A young British entrepreneur has created the "30 Year Sweatshirt" - a sustainable, ethical range of clothing that he says offers a practical solution to the cycle of consumption and waste caused by so-called 'fast fashion'.
Londoner Tom Cridland, 25, told Reuters he has combined old-fashioned craftsmanship with a unique silicon treatment applied to fabric that prevents shrinking. The result is a sweatshirt that he guarantees will last three decades, and because the items are priced at an affordable £55 ($83 USD), he insists that buyers will also save money in the long-term.
"It's made out of organic cotton and then a little bit of polyester, which doesn't sound so glamorous, but is very helpful for functionality, mobility, and comfort," said Cridland, "The cotton is very durable, quite heavy, 360 grams per meter. The seamstresses and craftsmen, who are from Portugal, and I decided on Portugal because I'm half Portuguese, they're the reason why I chose 30 years. I asked them 'show me the oldest sweatshirt you guys have ever made' and they've been in business since 1964 as a supplier, and they showed me a sweatshirt form the late 1970s which was still in perfect condition."
He added: "In terms of technology, what they weren't able to do in the 70s is treat it against things like shrinking and piling, which we've done with the unique silicon treatment that they've developed there. They have in Portugal - despite the fact these suppliers of mine are very old school, they have moved along with the times and they've invested in some great equipment."
Cridland says his eponymous company hopes to provide an affordable, ethical alternative to the prevalence of fast fashion in which consumers pay low prices for poor quality garments and then have to replace them regularly because the items have fallen apart or shrunk.
His sweatshirts, made by Portuguese artisans, use a traditional knitting technique that forms loops on the backside of the sweatshirt's fabric. Three yarns of loop-wheeled fabric are used. The material is 80 percent organic cotton and 20 percent premium polyester, which Cridland says helps increase garments' mobility.
The designer says the in-built obsolescence of much modern clothing can be bad for the environmental and that his product will help counteract such waste.
"The mere fact that we're guaranteeing the sweatshirts for 30 years implies that the sweatshirts are made really well and therefore we're not wasting our natural resources, which is the main reason is why the project is good for the environment," he said. "Equally, in the future when my brand Tom Cridland does designs that are more on trend or maybe people won't want to keep them for 30 years because fashions will change, we are going to try to encourage people - and this is what all people should be doing anyway - rather than chuck you're clothing out, give it to Oxfam."
In addition, Tom Cridland Co. has joined with international charity Deki is donating ten percent of its sales income to support entrepreneurs living in abject poverty, by giving them grants to work on their businesses.
There remains a peculiarly British tradition of relatives buying unwanted Christmas pullovers which are worn once and subsequently left in the cupboard, before being replaced annually. Cridland says the company could be persuaded to help end that waste by entering the 2016 Christmas pullover market.
"Maybe in the future we might venture into the Christmas sweatshirt market, but I'll always say that the 30 year sweatshirt, as it is, is a great Christmas present for anyone."