He’s 24 years old, and his chinos have already graced the lower halves of such luminaries as Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Craig, but British designer Tom Cridland is taking the long view of fashion — 30 years long, that is.
Also, 10 percent of his profits go to the UK charity Deki, which provides microfinance and training to entrepreneurs in developing nations.
PJMedia fired off some questions to Cridland, and here’s what he sent back (British spellings intact):
How did this idea first come to you?
I came up with the idea for The 30 Year Sweatshirt early in 2015 and spent a while developing it. It’s not just for those with an interest in the environment. It’s for consumers looking for a bargain and for designers who love designing a new collection every year.
Sustainable fashion doesn’t mean you can’t buy new clothes all the time! It just means we shouldn’t waste our valuable natural resources making clothing that’s systematically built to fall apart, as many high street fast fashion retailers are guilty of doing! Trends don’t last forever and brands need business from repeat business. That does not mean we need to make wardrobe staples to fall apart.
My brand, Tom Cridland, will continue to design more “on trend” or limited edition items every year, and my customers may recycle those clothes or hand them down should they tire of them. A Classic Navy sweatshirt or t-shirt, for example, is likely to be [a] cornerstone of a lot of people’s wardrobe though and it’s nice to “weave memories into the fabric,” as one of my more eloquent customers put it.
Is there a good reason why they should have to go out to replace something casual like that every year when they could be saving the money and buying an interesting new watch or pair of shoes?
Millennials are said to be in search of authenticity. Is that part of your motivation?
The 30 Year Sweatshirt seems to appeal to Millennials in search of authenticity, but also those who already have clothing they like that’s 20+ years old! There’s no harm in knowing what suits you well and re-wearing it.
Fashion has become a momentary thing, with styles changing from month to month, and fads coming and going, especially among your age group. Why do you think this is?
Trends have always come and [gone], and without fast fashion we would never have had flares or mullets! What would we have done?! I think, equally, something like a plain white t-shirt, for example, has never become unfashionable since it was first invented, so some wardrobe staples are here to stay — like The 30 Year Sweatshirt!
Much of manufacturing today is geared toward planned obsolescence, meaning people don’t expect things to last. What do you think are the obstacles you face to getting your philosophy out there?
The only obstacle I face is being a young brand, with no marketing or PR budget. I work very hard to get my press and try to be considerate in pitching journalists. It doesn’t stop me from receiving the odd email in block capitals saying “F*** OFF”!
It had to be an item like a plain-coloured sweatshirt or t-shirt that should have a long lifespan, as that’s the ethos behind The 30 Year Sweatshirt as a sustainable fashion project.
Are they suitable for men and women? (I’ve found that sweatshirts made for men often don’t fit well and have extremely long arms.)
The 30 Year Sweatshirt is a unisex garment and our tailors are able to adjust anything free of charge if it doesn’t fit well.
Why do you have a repair (but not replace) guarantee?
We don’t! Our wonderful tailors repair if possible as it is, after all, a sustainable fashion campaign. In the extremely unlikely event a sweatshirt is beyond repair, however, we will simply replace it.
How did you find your craftsmen?
I’m half-Portuguese, so I travelled to the wonderful country my mum is from, and found a group of world class craftsmen and seamstresses in the Serra da Estrela region, who have been making clothing since 1964.
What attracted you to Deki as a charitable partner?
Deki are a wonderful charity, who enable entrepreneurs in the developing world [to] work their way out of abject poverty by giving them grants to work on their ideas. As someone who started a brand with a government start-up loan, it’s so rewarding seeing others be a given a chance like I was!
If the sweatshirts are successful, what’s next?
Without giving away too much: the new shop in London, a promotional tour of the U.S., our charity event, the launch of our new ranges of blazers and then shirts, as well as another new product at the end of 2016 that I can’t reveal yet. We’re going to be busy!