Good quality leatherwork takes time, as does building an ethical accessories brand. It's a common misconception that launching with a 'pretty product' spells success for fashion brands, and it's a mistake many fashion brands make. The fact is, good things take time, and quality is the key.
When it comes to manufacturing good quality accessories, the slower the better. Leatherwork is a careful craft, and when it's executed with love, precision and intent, the finished product can last centuries, and hopefully, can be handed down from generation to generation.
Bridget Weiske and Claire Davies design with this concept in mind, and as the Founders of Empire of Bees, they too value good quality, timeless and sustainable accessories. The Empire of Bees brand was borne after Claire's experience living and studying in Indonesia, and her exposure to skilled craftsmen and women who would ordinarily go unnoticed...
Why are you so passionate about ethical fashion?
We are passionate about contributing to the change of slow, ethical fashion. Fast fashion has devastating impacts on our environment as well as the human factor too. We all need to do our part from thoughtful design and production methods through to conscious consumerism.
Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
It is devastating to see industrial waste and pollution as well as the unethical human element of factory work, which all results from fast fashion. Fast throw-away fashion is destroying our environment at a rate we can never recover from and as one of the largest industries in the world contributing to this, we need a change and we need sustainability to be at the forefront.
What inspires you to do what you do?
We started our venture after being continually disappointed with the price we were paying for products that were not lasting a season, let alone a year. We saw how wasteful this was on a global scale and thought it would be wonderful to not only make something through sustainable methods but to enable, empower and help people in the process.
Why did you choose the materials you use and how did it influence your design process?
We aim to build and create a product that lasts a lifetime, not just a season. We hate seeing the toxic waste, industrial pollution, and landfill from P.U and vegan leathers. We make sustainable products that purposefully don't break down or get thrown away; instead, they are products that can be passed down through generations. We also love supporting traditional craftsmanship and seeing these skills being handed down.
How do you ensure Empire of Bees operates with zero-waste practices?
We have spent many years educating our tailors and makers about the importance of zero waste, however they were already familiar with many aspects such as saving leather and fabric off-cuts for later use, as working for themselves it was always of the utmost importance to be thrifty and re-use whatever they could to save an unnecessary expense. Our education has been more about plastic alternatives for packaging and labelling, as well as transportation, shipping and power usage.
Support an ethical and sustainable fashion future, and shop the Empire of Bees leather range here.
The Fashion Advocate x