Physiotherapist and Housing Officer by day and budding entrepreneurs by night, former flat mates Bilal and Tom recently teamed up to create a brand that has me really excited! Sustainable, playful, with tongue in cheek slogans and most importantly at an accessible price point (YES, I AM SURE!), re: think Clothing – the brainchild of this duo, brings competitiveness to the market in terms of emerging affordable brands.
With sustainability being all the rage at the moment, I was keen to get to know the guys more, find out the inspiration behind this project and exactly what makes them different.
By Shabnam Choudhary
Both Tom and Bilal are light hearted, friendly and passionate about their products which is emanated throughout the designs and cheeky slogans of their soft launch Christmas Jumper range. My favourites are best sellers “Co-Co-Covid” & “Hands off my puds”! As with a lot of recent projects, being in lockdown during the pandemic fuelled their motivation to do something they had been pondering for some time. During the past 6-9 months they had noticed that their buying habits had naturally evolved and this had been a result of increased exposure to issues concerning climate change, increased plastic wastage and eco-friendly initiatives, from food to clothing and household products.
This led them to research more in to articles and documentaries exploring how detrimental the fashion industry is when it comes to wastage and lack of sustainable processes within the supply chain – from farming methods to buying habits and consumerism.
Inspired by iconic t shirt designs, social media and current trends, re: think’s main aim is to be future proof and not feed in to the cycle of fast fashion demands. The brand is conscious about circular economies of scale and this lays the foundation of everything from manufacturing to packaging. “If we can change belief, we can change behaviour” and in order to do that we need to think. With a play on words, the re: think brand name encourages the consumer to consider re-cycling, re-learning and being responsible in regard to shopping habits.
Let’s talk about sourcing and manufacturing. With extensive research in to organic and traditional farming methods, Bilal and Tom were able to gage the differences and how these impacted costs throughout supply chain. Albeit more expensive, certification to denote fair trade and end to end supply chain visibility was essential to building the foundation of this brand. Ensuring that workers are paid fairly, cotton is in fact organic, 100% renewable energy is utilised and that sustainability is followed all the way through to packaging is not something that will be compromised for profit margins, as we see with many established and new fast fashion brands.
Manufacturing predominantly from North India, Bangladesh and South Asia, re: think works with only certified suppliers, who are benchmarked and audited by regulatory bodies. With a mission to reduce their carbon footprint and support UK trade, they have also sourced local suppliers where possible and continue to do so.
After testing the receptiveness of the market with their compact Christmas range, being experimental, bold, and playful paid off. Upon receiving a positive response in terms of sales, as well as customer feedback, the below points are well worth noting and remembering!
- All jumpers were printed using water based vegan ink, therefore not harmful to the environment
- Print on demand service meant no stock holding and no wastage
- The ability to re-cycle all jumpers means zero wastage and the creation of a circular economy
- There was also a recycled range, demonstrating how product will be once it has gone through this process
- All the profits from the soft launch were donated to charity (Birmingham Central food bank/Unmuted) in support of the struggles caused by the Covid 19 pandemic
- The brand will continue to support local charity initiatives going forward
So, what we can expect from the first range due to launch this February 2021? Staple wardrobe essentials – a core leisurewear range with understated hoodies, embroidery and print designs using organic cotton. Due to the success of the Christmas Jumpers, I am also thrilled to know that there will be more themed, “risky” sub ranges; all of course using sustainable manufacturing methods.
As with all small businesses, I am keen to know if there are growth plans and how re: think would upscale their initiatives to change consumption on a mass scale. At present, the focus is on growing a loyal following – through the website and social media platforms. Long term goals are quite impressively focused on a B2B model, targeting UK companies that have a consistent need for employee uniforms. I had never previously considered the impact of uniform supply wastage and how once an employee leaves and discards of their clothing/requires new uniform items, these are disposed of and often end up in a landfill. With little investment required by these companies, re: think’s capacity to offer recyclable garments could make a massive difference to this unnecessary wastage.
This is not a fad! Let’s support re: think to create a movement and disrupt an industry that has contributed so heavily to the destruction of our environment.
Ensure you follow them on Instagram @rethinkclothinguk and check out https://rethinkclothing.co.uk/ for their new range.
Q&A SECTION – Quite enjoyed getting to know the guys!
What makes re: think stand out from the crowd of emerging sustainable fashion brands?
- Wearable yet fashionable clothing
- 100% Organic cotton
- Print on demand service – no wastage
- Water based vegan printing methods
- Support local and international small businesses
- Charity initiatives
- Conscious and affordable lifestyle brand
- Opportunity to upscale as B2B
- Conscious of corporate responsibility & circular economies
Do you plan on expanding your product range any time soon?
We are working one step at a time, and it is important that we follow a gradual growth model. This way growth is sustainable, and we won’t be forced to compromise on our fundamental values as a company. Having said that, we are currently looking at developing our accessories range to compliment the clothing.
How did you meet?
Bilal: We met at university through a mutual friend, David. I think we agreed to live with each other before we met, and then spent a very late night in the library on campus, doing anything but the assignments we went to do. He kept asking what I was drinking..
Tom: First time I met Bilal was outside the uni library. He was going in with a mug of tea, but not a travel mug like any other person, but one from the kitchen…at that point I questioned why I said yes to living with him
What is your top sustainable fashion tip?
Bilal: Never throw clothing in the bin
Tom: Wash on 30 degrees
What is an absolute fashion no-no for you?
Bilal: White socks, black shoes
Tom: Clashing patterns: too many loud pieces – you look like a supernova of loud.
What’s your controversial fashion opinion?
Bilal: Double denim
Tom: I quite like white socks, black shoes
Which part of the process have you enjoyed the most so far?
Tom: Designing – it’s been entertaining to brainstorm and bring ideas to life
Bilal: Changing Tom’s designs