It’s Day 3 of London Fashion Week and today we’ll be chatting about Doc Cotton - a unique, sustainable fashion brand that sells bespoke clothing from organic cotton.
Not only featuring garments with fun patterns and prints on their site, Doc Cotton also offers a design your own option that allows clothes to be made to order.
Supporting independent designers, the website acts as a marketplace, enabling designers to launch their design ranges in just a matter of minutes, with all production being managed by Doc Cotton locally in Peckham.
The brilliant brand upholds their #LovedClothesLast policy, which enables customers to return used Doc Cotton clothes in return for 20% off their next order. Doc Cotton then collects the items, re-using or upcycling in an enironmentally way, to ensure no garments end up in landfill.
1. Hi James, hope you’re having a great week. To start it would be great to hear a bit more about Doc Cotton, why did you start a fashion business?
James: It definitely has to be being able to purchase the clothes I wanted to wear and letting the nation design their own garments through sustainability. Making that opportunity possible for others was the starting point. People tend to think sustainable fashion is muted colours with no shape but we’re all about transforming that. You have fitted garments and loose garments here at Doc Cotton.
After researching for a few years, talking to friends, family and industry insiders, looking at existing companies and websites as well as small boutiques, I envisaged one vision in mind: to make bespoke sustainable printed garments the norm.
2. Have you always been involved in the fashion sector? How has your experience to date helped you with Doc Cotton?
James: I have worked in the fashion industry for the past ten years in a very different area but was always keen to learn more about garment construction and print on demand.
Spending lots of time and doing my own research has definitely helped, as well as the foundation laid down by my previous roles within the industry. All my prior knowledge has been invaluable with the setting up and running of Doc Cotton.
3. What were your biggest challenges when you first started out? Funding is difficult for any business owner, was it difficult obtaining finance?
James: What we do is very different compared to the normal way of garment manufacturing so there have been many issues that crop up but I’m really lucky that I have a great team around me who have helped along the way. We continue to encounter problems on a daily basis but work through them and effectively finding the best solution.
Funding is difficult for any business owner so you need to work relentlessly on your pitch/business plan.
4. How have you enjoyed the journey of growth since launching, what have been your greatest successes?
James: Launching the online Marketplace and getting designers on board has been the biggest challenge and success. We also have over 2,500 prints on offer and well over 30 different types of garments. We have over 250 designers on board which is incredible and we’re always seeing new designers sign up. We’re giving them an opportunity to set up their store and launch their very own line using their own artwork they’ve put passion and hard work into.
The feedback from designers have been overwhelmingly positive with many designers spreading the word and showing off their products on social media. One of our other highlights is that our tote bags were reviewed by the Independent against other brands and we were voted Best Buy - we were incredibly happy with this as we pride ourselves on them being both durable and stylish.
5. That’s amazing! Sustainability is at the heart of Doc Cotton’s philosophy - we love that! Can you explain to us why it’s so important, and how you’ve incorporated it into your brand?
James: As everything is made in-house in Peckham, London, this cuts out any excessive transportation costs and carbon footprint, so we can solely focus on making the process as ethical as possible. We say garments will be delivered within 5-7 working days to give our team the ability to create a high quality garment in an ethical environment. Our production team go on to sign their finished item with their name on a tag, so you always know who made your clothes.
As we use 100% organic cotton from sustainable and ethical suppliers, we are continually making progress and striving to achieve this with our suppliers. When it comes to printing garments, we use the digital printing process, which lowers water use by 60%, energy consumption by 55% and CO2 emissions by 95%. This, in turn prevents the industrial water pollution caused by fabric dyeing and treatment in emerging markets.
6. Wow that’s great, so important in today’s climate. Do you think that more businesses should be doing their bit to fight fast fashion issues?
James: Of course, companies and massive corporations are part of the problem, contributing to the issues we are seeing today. The fashion industry is only one aspect of it but more companies and businesses can be doing their bit to ensure they’re tackling fast fashion issues.
7. London Fashion Week is 3 days in now. Do you enjoy LFW, or use it for inspiration at all?
James: A major part of LFW is that it’s all about trends, which is what we’re trying to eradicate. We want people to wear clothes they like, in patterns they have chosen or designed themselves. London Fashion Week is interesting to see what is working out there in the general industry but so much of it could incorporate sustainability and ethics into it and make it as accessible as possible.
8. Would you say there is enough of a support system in place for smaller businesses within the fashion sector?
James: Not really! As a startup, it can be hard to gauge where to get the right support from and who has the same values as you. We’d love to see more communities where makers and creatives can come together for photoshoots, garment construction and so on. Do you think it’s difficult getting exposure amongst the big high street retailers? We’re not worried about standing out against high street retailers, we’re confident enough that our items and how we do things at Doc Cotton speaks for itself. One thing we can pride ourselves on is that we’ve remained ethical and sustainable as possible from the beginning whereas high street retailers are turning towards sustainability as a commodification.
9. What do you and your team enjoy the most about working in fashion? Do you enjoy being a business owner?
James: I love being a business owner because Monday morning is my favourite time of the week whereas most people dread it. I love working in fashion and in particular the sustainable arm. So much needs to be done to change the way that the fashion world goes about their business so it’s great to feel as if we’re part of a revolution against that.
10. What does 2020 hold for Doc Cotton?
James: We want to make our fashion a bespoke model for the industry and the norm when it comes to shopping sustainably and online.