WHY PRODUCE 100 HAND-CRAFTED ITEMS A WEEK WHEN YOU COULD BE PUSHING OUT THOUSANDS IN A FACTORY?
For Ceren Alkac-Lee, founder and creator of Oddbird Co, the decision to go slow comes down to quality and authenticity.
“Before I discovered the extent of global textile waste, most of the clothes I bought for my family came from high-street stores. Like most items in our wardrobes, they were cheap, easy-to-wear pieces made from polyester and other inexpensive fibres. To tell you the truth, I probably didn’t for a minute consider where it came from, how it was made, how the people who were making the clothes were being paid or treated, where the items would go after we were done wearing them and whether they were even biodegradable. My sister gave me a talking to years ago which sparked my drive to find alternatives that were both within my budget and classic enough to keep in my closet for years.
“The conceptual idea of Oddbird Co was born in the summer of 2014 when my children and I spent four months exploring my homeland of Turkey. I knew I had to create something that brought my culture to a new generation in a modern way, but at the same time was ethical and slow.
“Our clothing, robes and towels are all sourced in Istanbul, while our vintage kilim pillows and rugs originate from Izmir. What makes Oddbird so special to me isn’t just its aesthetic, but its ethics platform. We spent a lot of time forging the exact relationships we desired so that our products are fairly – and beautifully – made by a small group of artisans. Instead of sourcing factory-made, mass-produced or synthetic fabrics and pumping out thousands of Turkish towels a week, we use hand-woven textiles made exclusively from natural raw fibres, and the looms that our textiles are woven on can only produce on average 100 per week. I figure a thoughtfully created product will be thoughtfully purchased and used for a lifetime.
“It used to be that the fashion industry had four seasons a year but now it can [have] up to 15 or more. [This] means that the average consumer is purchasing new clothing far more frequently to keep up with trends, resulting in over 12.5 million tonnes of textile waste in 2013 in the US alone – and apparently it has doubled in the last four years. It can’t last; even ‘big box’ retailers like H&M are starting to implement recycling programs to combat their impact. I see that slow fashion is going to be a necessary and prevalent trend in the industry with people slowing down themselves and finally becoming aware of what they’re purchasing and why. I’m very excited to be a part of that.”