Thomas Woods looks at the group of individuals that are farming their own clothes for the greater environmental good, looking to push this production into modern fashion.
While you may not pin Blackburn as the fashion capital of the UK, a group of farmers are looking to place the Lancashire town on the map. Earlier this year, a group of 30 volunteers were led by homegrown fashion designer Patrick Gant. They decided to grow, spin, and weave their own fields of flax and woad in order to produce their own clothing. This group is named collectively as Homegrown Homespun.
Blackburn’s deep-rooted industrial history means that flax and woad are commonplace in the north-west town. Patrick Grant, most famous for his work on the TV show ‘Great British Sewing Bee’, saw an opportunity for the town to prosper. He teamed up with local arts commissioning group Super Slow Way and North-West England Fibreshed to get the project going, taking in a high number of volunteers across varying stages of the process.
Environmentally, this project is said to have many upsides, not just in its ability to produce jeans and jumpers, but even more so in its direct contribution to local wildlife. Mr Gant stated that the various stages of growing the core materials of these items will create “new habitats for wildlife” and help “regenerate the soil”. Founder of North-West England Fibreshed, Justine Aldersey-Williams, says that despite the hardy and hands-on process of making linen and its subsequently inflated final price, the environmental benefits are unmatched. This is especially true when compared with the commonplace importation of shipping fabrics and garments into the UK.
Moving forward, Homegrown Homespun is looking to upscale its production by going commercial by 2023, looking to push the idea of sustainable UK clothing into the mainstream market by utilising even more plots of unused land in Blackburn.