Sublime: What should a shopper look for when shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable products online?
Rina Einy: I would always recommend visiting either the website or shop to clarify what the brand means by ‘eco-friendly' and 'sustainable'. There are no world-wide standards in this sector which means aligning your values and understandings with a brand are entirely dependent on you, the consumer. For Culthread, we break down the materials we use, who makes them and how we look after our whole team. We are not quite 100% sustainable yet, but we are on the pathway to being as sustainable as possible and will keep you updated on this journey as we move towards our goal.
S: Being an outerwear company, what qualities does the perfect coat need? And why?
RE: A coat is a considered purchase and has a big responsibility. It needs to look great, feel comfortable and be fit for purpose by which I mean rainproof, warm, practical and long lasting. Our lives are more 'casual' than they used to be, and we want to be free to move and be protected whilst always looking stylish.
All our coats have multiple pockets, hoods and styling features for all the reasons I have already mentioned but fundamentally, if you love a coat enough to be wearing it year after year, then you have chosen well.
S: If you could choose just one item from Culthread what would it be and why?
RE: I am very attached to my Sutherland at the moment as it is my daily go-to coat which serves me well in all weather conditions and occasions. It's a traditional wax material but that is its only nod to being conventional; the zebra lining, multiple inside and outside pockets, extendable cuffs and puffy hood always provoke compliments.
S: Being a female owned and managed business, how has this helped to aid female empowerment?
RE: I believe doing the best job you can and being able to make things people love to wear is very empowering full stop. Add to that, 95% of the Culthread team are women including all the senior management, and, every single one of them works collaboratively and supportively. I am so proud to be a part of this.
S: Being an eco-conscious company, has this caused any challenges when trying to use the highest quality materials?
RE: Whilst it is true that the range of high-quality sustainable fabrics and accessories are more limited, there are many more options available now than there were before. Educated consumers can provoke industry change with their purchasing behaviour.
S: What are the positives to producing only a few of the same pieces of clothing?
RE: Being a limited-edition company means you won’t see a lot of people wearing the same item. Culthreads are made from vegan re-cycled or 'deadstock' materials, so often the quantity produced depends on what materials are available. The major positive is reducing our carbon footprint – we don’t discard or destroy any culthread fabrics, something that is usually common practice in the fashion industry.
S: Could you tell us about your atelier and why you chose Vietnam?
RE: Having experienced the high-end outerwear manufacturing sector for a large number of years in Vietnam, I have first-hand experience of the quality of the workmanship and internationally certified factories there. Our family owned business has been a major outerwear supplier to international brands for decades, with production in certified Vietnamese factories.
Our atelier in Ho Chi Minh City has experience creating the highest quality prototypes, samples and small runs for complicated outerwear styles, and thus an obvious choice for Culthread. Owning our own atelier means that we can be sure that the pay and working conditions of our skilled team are set and adhered to by us rather than a second or third party.
S: Could you please explain what four different sources of materials you use and why?
RE: The materials that we use most are 100% recycled polyester and Thermore Ecodown. Recycled polyester is made by melting down existing plastic and re-spinning it into new polyester fibre. Around 10 used plastic water bottles would contain enough recycled fibres for the fabric of an outer shell of one Culthread coat; similarly, around 10 used plastic bottles will be recycled to insulate one Culthread jacket.
Recycling polyester prevents plastic from ending up in landfill or the ocean and uses 60% less energy in production compared to virgin polyester. Clothes made from recycled polyester can be recycled over and over without quality loss, so that one day polyester recycling and usage could become a circular system.
We also use ‘rescued deadstock’ at times in our collection. These are leftover fabrics from production by other brands, often owing to buffer stocks, which would otherwise end up burnt or sent to land fill. Occasionally we will use fabric that is existing stock at fabric suppliers.
S: When wearing culthread, how do you want people to feel?
RE: Confident, comfortable, stylish and proud to be wearing something that has had the most positive impact on the planet.
S: What is the importance of having both functionality and style when it comes to designing outerwear?
RE: Culthread designs high quality products which look great and work for you. Often, pockets in women's clothing are not of a sufficient size to be useful. Culthread has multiple pockets in every single coat and jacket so it is possible to go out without a bag. We also always provide hoods, either discreetly or as features and often practical styling features such as extendable cuffs, hood and hem adjusters and poppers/zippers on side seams for comfort and changing the silhouette.
S: From start to finish, what is the process behind creating an item from Culthread?
RE: Everything starts with an idea and sketch for a style or product, and then we start sourcing the materials and accessories that we will need. We begin with any stock materials that we have and consider whether they can be of use. Then we look further afield. Certification from the mills and suppliers has to comply with our strict vegan, recycled and quality ethics.
We use CLO technology which enables us to design and then see what those designs look like on a virtual body. This process avoids the negative footprint of a series of prototypes made for each style and often travelling between team members to sign off. The length, fit, pocket placement can all quickly be amended based on what the garment actually looks like on a body. From here, our prototypes are made which we personally test by wearing; once we are happy with every single element, the prototype goes into production before being photographed and made available to our consumers.
S: Have you adapted Culthread in order to work alongside covid-19?
RE: Our Atelier in Vietnam strictly adheres to Covid guidelines as we endeavour to keep all our team safe during this time. Vietnam has managed a very successful covid-19 policy which has effectively closed all its borders to travellers. Following all guidelines in the atelier has meant that we have not had any production disruptions and the team have remained healthy and well. In the UK and Belgium all are working remotely. It's not that bad in terms of efficiency and practicality but we are all missing human connection....
S: What plans do you have for Culthread in the future?
RE: We want to extend the range and make it available to more people in Europe and the rest of the world. We are looking closely at new technology that could make individual items for consumers closer to home from recycled fibres with no waste whatsoever, and, of course, we strive to be 100% sustainable! After a long search we have just found re-cycled zips and poppers of a quality suitable for Culthread, but the pulls are not right, so we have decided to use a hybrid of both until the quality is there. We are getting there and are not compromising our Values in order to do so.