We can positively, or negatively, affect the wider world when we make choices about the fashion we buy. As strong, informed consumers we can, and should, ask:
What is it made of? Where did the material come from? Is it natural or synthetic? If synthetic, was it recycled? If natural, who harvested it?
Were they fairly paid, well-valued and decently treated? Was the material dyed with safe dyes? Does the brand offset its carbon emissions? Was every step in the production process, from genesis to garment, ethical and sustainable?
These are just some of the questions we at LEE KLABIN ask ourselves when we create a new product. We do this, so that when you ask the questions, we have the answers.
Here is the provenance of LEE KLABIN designs...
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OF OUR STORY.
"Nothing compares to Scottish cashmere. The way it looks, how it feels, the way it drapes" - Todd & Duncan
The cashmere used in our designs hails from Todd & Duncan, known for the world's finest cashmere. They are based in Loch Leven, Scotland with a long history spanning over 150 years. Their yarn is produced at their Loch Leven mill using methods that are true to the ways of the past.
The Scottish cashmere story starts with goats. Not Scottish goats, but a hardy, mountain-dwelling breed that has adapted to the harsh environments and extreme temperatures of the Gobi Desert.
To survive, the goats develop wonderfully thick coats made up of a coarse outer guard hair and a fine, soft undercoat . Todd & Duncan use only the finest fibre – the white, downy undercoat that runs from the throat to belly.
This yields a tiny amount: it takes fibre from one goat to knit a scarf, three to make a sweater.
Traditionally, farmers would collect cashmere fibre by ceremonially combing their goats in the spring. Combing is still widely used today, alongside some farmers who prefer shearing.
Animal welfare, sustainability and traceability are the three pillars of their ethical sourcing initiatives.
Working in partnership with their approved de-hairers, Todd & Duncan encourage sustainable herding and grazing practices, promote high standards of animal welfare, and work to protect this traditional way of life within nomadic communities.
Lee chose Todd & Duncan's 100% cashmere yarn because of its ethical origins, luxurious softness, ease of care and supreme quality. The reason cashmere feels as gorgeous as it does can be seen throught the microscope.
The structure of it is thinner and less 'flakey' compared to coarse wool, fine wool or even alpaca. This gives it the luxurious softness we all love.
Moreover, the processes involved in creating cashmere yarn play a big part. Todd & Duncan have refined their traditional techniques over two centuries to create a cashmere yarn that pills less than any other.
They check, double-check and triple-check every batch of raw fibre; it’s sorted and de-haired, then quality-checked for micron, length, whiteness, and impurities. The fibre is checked once more when it arrives at their mill where only fibre that meets their strict criteria at every stage makes it into their dye house.
The yarn is also inspected at every stage of the production process, with each batch uniquely identifiable and traceable from fibre lot to cone. www.todd-duncan.co.uk
The fibres of Todd & Duncan cashmere are dyed before they are spun into yarn. This helps preserve the incredible softness for which they are renowned.
The dying process takes place in their mill on the banks of Loch Leven in Scotland, and for good reason: the water’s natural purity and softness helps to open up the cashmere fibres, resulting in wonderfully consistent colour, and the Todd & Duncan texture which we love so much.
Their dyes are carefully engineered to be environmentally friendly, so the water they use can be cleaned and safely returned to Loch Leven once dying is complete.
S pinning -
Todd & Duncan have perfected the methods for superior yarn spinning back in the 1950's to produce the consistently high-quality yarn for which they are known. According to them - "Traditional methods give superior results."
All their yarns are spun on modern mules. This means long draws for a more level yarn during spinning. Compared to the alternatives, it’s a slow process, but yields an exceptionally rounded and voluminous yarn.
Manufacturing sustainably has always been deemed 'difficult'. But Lee Klabin says it's actually not. Ethical producers may be harder to find, but it’s not difficult once you know what you want and how you want to produce it.
"The rigorous process of selection becomes that much easier when you have a very clear set of rules that you're just not prepared to break for anything. We set our standards high, so those who can meet them rise to the top and, together, we can raise the fashion industry's game."
That's why we chose to produce all our garments with a small London based knitwear company called KH24. Founded by Asif Dhanani and Farah Giovanni, who both have fantastic expertise in both ethical and sustainable practices, knitwear design and manufacture. KH24 has become the force behind bringing our designs to life through the talented hands of their machine knitters and technicians.
Being London based neighbours to Lee Klabin also reduces transport emissions and the carbon footprint, helping us towards our goal of becoming a carbon negative brand.
We strive to find the most environmentally conscious way to deliver our sustainable designs to our customers. To that end, we have partnered with UPS, who say they have been using alternative vehicles since way back in the 1930s. The new Arrival lightweight composite vehicles will join UPS's existing fleet of eco-friendly vehicles, which already includes more than 300 electric vehicles and nearly 700 hybrids. It has also placed an order for 125 Tesla semi trucks when they become available. Together, we aim to deliver sustainable luxury goods worldwide to our customers, whilst offsetting carbon emissions, eventually approaching our goal of being not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative as well.
Our commitment to 100% sustainability even even applies to the labels inside. Our labelling hails from the Welsh part of our United kingdom story. The National Weaving Company who are a small family-run company based in Pembrokeshire, Wales. were able to accommodate our sustainable requirements and provided us with U.K made 100% cotton labelling throughout our garments. Thus, ensuring our garments preserve the exquisite 100% natural composition we cherish.
The National Weaving Company was set up in the 1980s by Christine Astley and her daughter Louise, (now the M.D). Over the years, the business has grown exponentially, becoming the UK’s largest name-tapes manufacturer having supplied hundreds of designers, schools as well as the Royal family.