It’s well and truly sweater weather now. In fact, it’s more like wear every layer you own weather but there is still a sweater in there. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you will know that I love my knitwear. So when Flora from Collingwood-Norris invited me down to her studio I jumped at the chance to get to know about this Scottish knitwear brand.
Flora’s studio is in Galashiels which is only a short drive from where I live. So on a chilly autumn morning, me and the dog (who was also invited) jumped in the car to visit Flora. It was lovely to get to know each other over a cup of tea. Unfortunately, my dog who’s normally very well behaviour decided he would help break the ice by making a mess on Flora’s floor. Not the best way to start off a visit but it did break the ice and we had a good laugh about it. Luckily Flora is also a dog owner and was relaxed about Charlie being a little naughty. So let that be a warning to you all never to take your dog anywhere. Stick to working with clothes they are much better behaved.
After the trauma of Charlie’s introduction, we sat down with our tea and cake and chatted all things sustainable fashion. Below are Flora’s answers to a few of my questions for her.
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a little about your brand?
I’m Flora Collingwood-Norris, designer/ maker of Collingwood-Norris, a luxury Scottish knitwear company that I started last year. My knitwear is colourful, lightweight and minimalist, and made with superfine lambswool. The wool is processed in Scotland, and I make all the products in my studio in Galashiels on a hand frame knitting machine, finishing each piece by hand. The aim of the company is to create beautiful pieces that are kind to people and planet- ethically made, and with minimal environmental impact.
Why do you think the slow fashion movement is so important?
I have never really been a fast fashion person (well, maybe for a little bit in my teens). I think most people are now aware of the huge amounts of waste that fast fashion creates, not to mention the human cost and environmental impact of making processes. This is why the slow fashion movement is so important- picking items that will last and buying less. This doesn’t mean chucking out fast fashion clothes (I’ve had some H&M items in my wardrobe for more than 10 years now, and they’re still surviving!) it’s just a case of thinking about what you will buy more carefully. It’s this shift in attitude that is so important to me- if designers and consumers start asking more questions and thinking about clothing differently, then we have a lot of power to create positive change.
Why do you choose to work with wool and why do you think it is a sustainable material?
Wool is a wonderful natural fibre, so there are lots of reasons why I choose to work with it. To start with it’s renewable- shearing takes place every year, and then the sheep grow a new fleece. As a natural fibre, it’s biodegradable, or recyclable, so I know my products don’t have to go to landfill at the end of their life, which is an important consideration.
Wool is also naturally breathable, temperature regulating, and even very fine wool can be incredibly warm. It has amazing recovery- so if stretched, it should regain its shape (unlike cotton for example), which in turn should mean my knitwear will look good for longer- always a plus! It also doesn’t hold odours- so unless wool is actually dirty, you don’t have to wash it- give it a good airing, and it will be fine.
What are your top 3 tips for anyone trying to shop more sustainably?
- Only buy things you really, really like. It sounds obvious, but as a ditherer, my rule is that if I’m still thinking about whatever it is after a week, then it’s a good buy and I’ll wear it a lot. I’m less likely to keep something for years if I buy it on the spur of the moment.
- Do some research. Check out the brand and/or the item you are interested in. You can choose to buy from a company with ethical standards, who use more environmentally friendly materials instead of from ones who don’t. Transparency is becoming more common, and I personally am enjoying being able to shop from companies who can tell me exactly where there clothing is being made.
- Buy good quality where and when you can, so that your clothing has a better chance of lasting longer. Just buying clothes that you know how to look after will make a difference- fibres that can be washed less for example, or ones that can be mended easily.
What I love most about Flora’s pieces is how bright and colourful they are. I’m not normally one for bright colours but the happy shades of Collingwood-Norris pieces draw me to them. And as you can see from the pictures they really do cheer up a winter’s day. The jumper I’m wearing is made from super soft lambswool which is a joy to wear. I’m not going to lie this is a little pricey so definitely a considered purchase but the quality is amazing and it will last for years to come.
Flora also makes a range of hats and scarves in the same cheery colours which are much more affordable and would make ideal Christmas gifts. I particularly love the hats with reflector pom poms on them, perfect for dark winter nights.
Disclaimer: I was kindly gifted the jumper featured in this post. As usual, all thoughts and opinions are my own