Something from Smithereens – Our Zero Waste Collection

Sustainability is a word that is now so important in all elements of our life. Millinery by its nature is already sustainable, it is slow fashion, using natural materials. Very few plastics are used so the millinery industry contributes very little to landfill and most hats will be completely biodegradable.

However in a world of excess and being able to get everything we want on tap, offering our bespoke services, means we are constantly buying, more feathers, more straws, to meet the specifications of the orders we receive, which won’t be used in their entirety for a bespoke order. Whilst many of our couriers either offset their carbon footprint or offer zero emission delivery, we are often still purchasing in more materials than required, due to minimum order quantities or needing larger pieces of fabric so we can use the bias, it often leaves us with excess than we require (albeit biodegradable).

This past winter season with a stockroom overflowing with materials, we set out selves on a mission to rid ourselves of our scraps. Bigger pieces of fabric that we could easily use in a design were safe, these were the small pieces, literal scraps, the pieces we had been saving for years…but with no real reason why or idea of how to use them.

We focused on sinamay offcuts, the baskets (full sized washing baskets) were overflowing with scraps, some pieces had been made into ribbons then left over in a box we may one day get round to using but never did, others just small pieces cut off from blocking, or small corners from cutting materials on the bias, but with no real useable size to them.

Our creative juices got going……and we have created our zero waste collection. Absolutely no materials were purchased as extra to create these pieces, all materials were already in our stockroom. As we made the hats, more off cuts of the scraps were made and these scraps went into our other designs until we were left with no scraps, nothing went in the bin in this process, until our baskets were empty….at stages this felt like a never-ending cycle, of using scraps, but in the meantime creating more scraps from using the scraps. But eventually we got to the bottom of the pile!

And so we created our ‘Something from Smithereens’ collection. Named because they are literally made from smithereens of fabric, just worked together to create new fabrics and deigns. All these pieces are one off pieces, and completely unique, we will not be offering these designs as bespoke orders (as that would defeat the object of the collection) but now is the time to get you hands on a completely unique zero-waste millinery concept. These designs were driven by waste, not by design…but we think we have shown that waste doesn’t need to be waste, by thinking outside of the box everything has a use and can be beautiful, sustainability doesn’t need to compromise on design.

Keep an eye out on our Instagram for some behind the scenes videos of how we created this collection.

The perfect unique millinery pieces to stand out from the crowd at royal Ascot.

Style can and should be sustainable. This is something I personally have been following through in my life, I now only purchase vintage or pre-loved clothing, whilst I’ve always loved vintage fashion, I think since switching to purely pre-loved and vintage, I have realised that buying second hand, not only feeds into the circular economy, but I am creating a far more interesting sense of personal style, not trend led, but led by what makes me feel good.

If you are thinking about hats and millinery this season and want to look at how you can make sustainable choices, here are a few tips that may be worth thinking about:

1) Shop our ‘Something from Smithereens’ collection!

2) Purchase a hat that has opportunities to up-cycle or re-trim in the future, a timeless hat style in a colour you wear a lot can always be re-trimmed with different trimmings and colours in the future, to offer a new lease of life to the hat, making it more sustainable and more budget friendly going forwards.

3) Already have a hat either from us or from another designer? Bring it in, let’s see what we can do, whether it is making the head fitting more comfortable, a few additional feathers or a complete re-trim…making use of what you already have.

4) Rather than purchasing something just because it happens to match your outfit, choose a piece that you LOVE as an investment piece, that you will want to get out and wear time and time again.

5) Choose straws and feathers in your designs as they are all natural, ethically produced and bio-degradable.

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