"If they grow, then I grow"- Mona, Embroiderer and Head of Bow Sewing Centre, Poplar.
At Birdsong, we create original clothing staples that are ethical and sustainable, made by expert women makers facing barriers to employment in the UK.
Our mission has always been to create clothes that women feel good about wearing and use our brand to inspire and implement change in the fashion industry.
When we started our journey five years ago, we were hungry to create the most revolutionary and thoughtful fashion label we could. We were advised that it would be impossible to run a business with so much ethical clout at its core, but it has become clear that what we’re doing is more important than ever. We were determined not to settle for fashion as it is, and boy have we made some noise about it.
"...brands celebrate international women's day, but they're still oppressing women workers...As fashion brands cash in on the women’s day hype with feminist slogan T-shirts, ethical label founder Sophie Slater of Birdsong asks who made those clothes, and who is making the money?" - i-D magazine
We all know that time is running out to make a change, if we want to stop the harmful impact of the fashion industry on our earth, and on the people who make our clothes. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It is also estimated that 60 million women worldwide – aged 18-35 and working in the garment industry – make less than minimum wage. Shockingly, thousands of garment workers in the UK are paid £3.50 per hour.
We know it is near impossible to track where our clothes come from and who made them – and that’s why we’re here. Together, with your support, we can change the way fashion works.
We know that women want more from their wardrobe, but we also know that the world of ethical and sustainable fashion can be hard to grasp. We’ve made it our life mission to create clothes that tick all the boxes.
Being eternal optimists, we’ve set out to make a brand different in every way we could. How does that work? We start by designing in house and then:
- We work with expert women makers who face barriers to employment – from artists and printmakers to seamstresses and painters, and we pay them a London living wage to bring our creations to life.
- We handpick super-soft, environmentally friendly fabrics like TENCEL, cotton khadi and bamboo.
And finally, we sell products made lovingly to last.
We’ve been working really hard for months on the perfect dress. There have been weeks of fit testing, sampling and designing around five years of feedback from what our customers wanted most. We were tired of dresses that were made to fall apart, didn’t fit different body types properly, or couldn’t be styled for every occasion. We created a classic, comfortable wrap design, with a slight puff detailing at the sleeves, in perfect midi and maxi lengths that you could wear to a wedding, or to work.
Our designer Susanna sourced our TENCEL™ fabric for its brilliant sustainable credentials, drape and popularity with other brands such as Patagonia. It’s strong and long lasting, absorbs moisture, making your garment work harder, and is buttery soft and gentle on your skin. Once at the end of its life, our TENCEL™ garments are biodegradable and home compostable, so you can be assured your purchase will never contribute to landfill.
“TENCEL™ Lyocell fibers have gained a commendable reputation for their environmentally responsible closed loop production process, which transforms wood pulp into cellulosic fibres with high resource efficiency and low environmental impact. This solvent-spinning process recycles process water and reuses the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. Consumers can have the assurance that their fashion choices are not contributing to an adverse impact on the environment.”- Our suppliers at TENCEL
In addition, the rewards we would like to offer 20% off all Birdsong products in our Pop up shop on Poland Street, London, W1F 7ND. Open from 14th- 17th November, just state your name in store to claim your discount.
All rewards will be send out after our Crowdfunder has closed, see delivery date for details.
Your new favourite dress will be cut and sewn by Fateha, Malika and the gang at Stitches In Time community arts charity in Limehouse. Once a dress reward is claimed, it can be expected in 3 to 6 weeks.
Local community legend Mona does all of our t-shirt embroidery, and uses the wages to fund her classes for low income women. Most of our t-shirts are ready made and ready to send out.
Our knitters are two groups of golden oldies based at an Age UK day centre in Kingston, and a community centre in Enfield. Once a reward is claimed, you can expect your knitted scarf, hat or bib in three to six week.
Our postage and packaging is carried out by adults with learning disabilities in Kentish Town, and all orders will go out via Royal Mail First Class.
We’ll make this collection the way we always have. We work hard, treat everyone in supply chain excellently and go out of our way to deliver beautiful, thoughtful clothes in the finest sustainable fabrics we can afford.
- We want to unlock even more potential as change makers in the fashion industry, and use these funds to create a new, minimal waste, size inclusive collection.
- We want to use eco-friendly TENCEL™ fabric, which means investing in this more expensive, but totally worth it, fabric.
- We want to extend Birdsong out to be size inclusive in all styles going forward. This crowdfunder could help us unlock fit and sizing for so many more gorgeous women who want to wear our brand.
- We want to create more much needed London Living Wage work for our remarkable makers.
- We want to use crowdfunder for pre-orders to be able to see which styles are popular with our customers, reduce waste and make everything ‘to order’.
- Expanding our collections, making Birdsong more inclusive and offering the sizes our fans have been asking for = Grading (£15), sampling (£60), fit tests, (£20) and fabric costs (£50) = £145 per each new size
- Employing a freelance garment technician, which will improve the fit of our clothing for all of our customers going forward = £220 per day, or £1760 per collection
- Researching orders for more innovative, eco fabrics, such as the TENCEL™ plant fibre we’ll be using for this collection. (More information on TENCEL™ here.) = £2500 for fabrics
- Running more pop up shops and empowering, inclusive events so we can meet all of our supporters in person, and get live feedback on our brand to make it the best it can be. = £500 towards hiring body positive performers for our launch, £2000 for each pop up shop we run.
- Providing around 2000 hours of Living Wage work for communities in East London that really need it = £30k
We are an independent, women run business, and we’ve always prided ourselves on doing everything right. Doing things properly is expensive - which is why we’re taking pre-orders for our stock - but so worth doing in order to future proof our industry and the environment.
Not only have we promised 50% of our profits to be reinvested into women’s organisations, but around 30% of our revenue goes directly to our women’s organisations through our manufacturing.
This is really important to us, as Sarah and I started Birdsong because we had previously worked with brilliant women’s charities. We wanted to make sure that women in need of extra support could access it, and work towards a better life for themselves and their families.
“We see it as our job as a smaller, braver brand to create an alternative industry. Using natural, sustainable fibres and respectful labour practices, strengthens not only our connection to one another, but to the Earth. While brands pump out slogan T-shirts with feminist slogans made for terrible wages, we always intend for ours to make statements that last longer than the time it takes to read them.” - Co-Founder Sophie on Vogue.co.uk
We are Sophie, Sarah and Susanna, and we run our independent company together in London. Our supply chain is a host of other brilliant local charities who do all of our sewing, cutting, embroidery, even down to our thoughtful postage and packaging.
All of this is done for a London Living Wage, and in the most sustainable, ethical way possible. When you buy from us, you’re supporting dozens of remarkable, talented makers to work in great conditions, who need the money most.
“When Birdsong first exploded onto the Sustainable Fashion scene, their combination of uncompromising ethics and feminist swagger felt like such a breath of fresh air. It’s not just a clothing brand, it’s an inclusive sisterhood, a community and a code of ethics.
Birdsong care equally about the wellness of the women who make their clothes and the women who buy them. Their strap line, “No Sweatshop, No Photoshop”, isn’t a marketing ploy, it’s a line in the sand, reminding us that from worker to wearer, they have our backs. ✌️
And they cast real women, real Birdsong customers who all also happen to be kick ass business women in their own right...Their whole vibe is like your feisty sister and stylish best mate got together to craft really conscious clothing!”
“I’m hesitant to add the loaded word “ethical” to what Birdsong do. Their tagline “No Sweatshops, No Photoshop” is perhaps a more comprehensible way of describing what Birdsong have collectively created. I can crow “social enterprise”, “fair fashion” and “ethical sourcing” at you from dusk till dawn. Those phrases can daunt a shopper.
The crux of Birdsong is, that they’re selling lovely things, made in partnership with lovely women’s organisations and charities and you feel lovely as a result.
You can delve deeper and look at the incredible women’s knitting groups or impoverished migrant women’s circles that create these things. Or you can stop and admire aesthetics alone and just count on the fact that by shopping at Birdsong, something good is coming out of that credit/debit card swipe.”
We wouldn’t be able to become a blueprint for a better world without you. So choose a reward by clicking on the right, fill in your payment details and we’ll work hard on your long lasting, super soft, beautifully made clothes. We can’t wait to make a better way of doing fashion with you.