‘The reports were appalling… The environmental issues surrounding the textiles and the pesticides poisoning, the deaths from industrial accidents and workers living in slave conditions… it had to change and it was hard. Even trying to get organic cotton was impossible, no one was doing it.
‘Today it’s totally different. We’ve got sustainable recycled polyester, and sustainable alpaca from Peru in natural colours. Swiss mills are making the most beautiful organic cotton. I don’t know why Burberry aren’t using it for all their clothes. They f**cking charge enough!’
– Fashion designer, Katherine Hamnett, 70, on closing her fashion empire in 1989, after she commissioned an impact study into her business and the environment.
The politically driven slogan t-shirt was her signature trademark – George Michael wore Choose Life and her picture wearing her anti-Pershing missile t-shirt meeting Margaret Thatcher is one of her most famous shots.
Katherine Hamnett is now making a comeback with ‘Cancel Brexit’ and ‘Choose Love’ t-shirts and a relaunch of some of her classic pieces (online at KatherineHamnett.com now and then Liberty and Matches).
I love her gutsiness to speak out on issues such as the environment, war or social injustice. She wasn’t happy with the status quo of the fashion industry so she shut down her business and found alternative ways of doing things. We can do the same too by trying to influence small, positive changes in the industries we work in and the attitudes of people we meet. If something isn’t right or should or could be done differently for a great good, why not say something and be bold like Katherine Hamnett.