An Interview with Thought Founder Rachel Kelly

Since the beginning, Thought, the UK’s pre-eminent sustainable clothing and lifestyle brand have driven the conversation around creating a wardrobe that offers style with sustainable and ethical provenance.

As we approach the holiday season and turn our minds towards gift-giving, we catch up with Thought’s co-founder Rachel Kelly to get her thoughts on sustainable fashion in the modern world and how to create a sustainable wardrobe that you (and others) will love!

What is the ethos behind Thought Clothing?

We believe sustainability should be a joy. And that’s because you don’t have to choose between looking and feeling great and looking after the planet at the same time. And, the more joyful living sustainably is, the easier it is to do – things we like doing don’t feel like a chore. If you look at the way we design our collections, we focus on fabric that feels gorgeous on your skin, we look at bursts of color and print that are inherently joyful, we obsess over fit, so our pieces always looks great on and inspire confidence, and we want our clothes to fit your lifestyle – so we add things like hidden pockets in our ethical dresses and elastication on the back of trousers, dresses, and skirts, so you get that perfect fit whilst remaining comfortable. Thought is all about the little – thoughtful – details that will improve your day, whilst of course, making sure all our fabrics are sustainably made and ethically sourced – that underpins everything we do.

What are some of your top tips for a sustainable wardrobe?

Start with the basics. The world of sustainability can feel overwhelming for someone who is just starting their journey, but the truth is that every little helps so make small steps, and the rest will follow. I would suggest that if you are looking to overhaul your wardrobe or just start to dress a bit more consciously, think about those pieces you wear all the time, think about longevity and quality. It is much more sustainable to just buy one new Fairtrade organic cotton top that is high quality, will wash well, and last a long time than to keep replacing the same white t-shirt (as so many people do). But if you’re going to get one, make it organic cotton, make it Fairtrade, look out for those credentials that mean its footprint has been considered and kept to a minimum. We always consider people, the planet, and animal welfare in everything we do, so you know when you buy from us, we’ve done that thinking for you. So if you find a brand that resonates with you, that shares those sustainable values, that’s also a safe way to keep doing your bit every time you shop.

What should you do with an item you no longer love or need?

Gift to a friend, donate it or repurpose it. Our motto is wear me, love me, mend me, and pass me on. If you’re not keen on the customization or handy with a sewing machine, someone else may love that item as much as you used to and get more wear out of it! We have a long-standing partnership with TRAID, and we provide pre-paid labels to our customers, making it easy to send pre-loved clothing and accessories to TRAID to continue their life-cycle. I’m also a firm fan of hand-me-downs, we have three children, and so there is a constant flow of shared clothing and toys, which get passed on to friends whenever ours grow out of things. No good thing goes to waste in our household!

How can you tell good quality clothing from low-quality items?

There are a few ways. Firstly, you can just touch it and see how it feels, but that isn’t always easy if you are shopping online. If you’re shopping online, look for fabric composition and credentials. There are certain regulatory bodies like Fairtrade who certify that an item is of a high enough standard to be given that stamp of approval, and companies like Lenzing who make plant-based synthetics Tencel and Ecovero are of a much higher quality and much better for the environment than traditional synthetics. They create fabrics from sustainable sourced wood pulp, and the wood comes from FSC-certified forests only – you can check the provenance. It is also good to look out for words like ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ as this means there will have been some kind of approval or certification process, and the material is likely to be gentle on your skin. Plus, you can look at the price point. This isn’t an exact science, but if something is exceptionally cheap, it is unlikely to be well made, and it is very unlikely to be ethically made. At Thought, we have a range of price-points, from entry-level to some more premium items, but we always try and keep our prices as affordable as possible whilst providing a really high-quality product that our customers will love for a long time.

Keep Joy as part of your wardrobe

Living sustainably doesn’t have to be a chore, and Thought’s aim of making sustainability a joy is something that resonates with our readership. Stay up to date with the latest fashion advice with our newsletter, and get in touch if with any topics you want to see covered soon!

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