Dropping by the very morning that Goodone found out they’d just missed out on a key upcycling article in the national press does beg the question why a brand with such strong ethical morals and the remarkable success that Goodone has is still being overlooked?
However, we at Volt Café don’t miss a trick! Nin Castle, the founder, was able to fill us in with all the nuts and bolts of Goodone.
Volt Café: What is the origin of Goodone? I believe it all started with a charity bag worth £1…
Nin: The idea of Goodone started while I was at university, and it was originally started as 100% upcycle which has slowly morphed into what it is now. We are not 100% upcycle but what we say is that we incorporate reclaimed fabrics into every possible area that we can. Before you were so restricted, now we will buy some new British knits for that back of the skirt section, so you get that long piece and then we can panel up the side with recycled fabric. Suddenly you get a much more quality item and it is a lot nicer as it is not so patch-worky.
We then discovered the textile recycling factories, where you can handpick the cashmeres, the pure wools, things that are actually just really nice. You would be surprised at just how much really good stuff gets thrown away.
VC: The concept of Goodone happened after university. Did they spur you on or did you always have an innate attitude to ethical design?
Nin: No, university didn’t encourage me at all, I think my tutor thought I was a complete fruit loop. It really makes me chuckle as I now go back to give talks, and I always start with well I got a 2:2 so don’t worry about what the tutors say cause they don’t always know.
VC: You first started out with your friend and business partner Phoebe Emerson, I believe she has since gone on to other projects…
Nin: She left about 2years ago now… Still good friends!
VC: You then had to take the reins of the brand, how did you find that?
Nin: Quite difficult. It was a real challenge. I got nominated for the RE: New Designer of the Year award and I thought if I don’t win it I might just give up because it is just too much. Then I met Filippo and Orsola from Estethica and they sponsored me to show at the next London Fashion Week which resulted in new stockists and a project with Tesco, doing an online fusion line for them which will be out in mid-October 2010. It has just taken off massively from then. That year was not the easiest of my life so when I started getting money in from the sales I was able to get Claire on board and employ staff. Before that it was literally just me. It was a horrible few months…
VC: How does the process work from recycled items to producing beautiful fashion-led pieces?
Nin: The handpicked items from the recycled factories are brought back to the studio, we make some of it in-house and then we get some made out in little manufacturing units in London. We sold really well this season and it was a more high-end collection. What we do now is show a more design-led collection, using standardized colours such as greys and blues, something that we know we can repeat over and over again, mixed in with other colours. This piece, the bodycon shift dress is mainly new apart from the back bit and the lining; made up of old UK stock that had just been sitting around for years, they are all a mixture of new and old sections.
VC: Was your ‘Do I look like a fucking plastic bag’, (which personally I thought was genius) hinting towards another well-known slogan bag sold in a supermarket?
Nin: Of course! It happened at a time when there was a little spurt of eco-shoots and they would always mention this bloody bag despite not one item within that bag being sustainably sourced. It was all made in China, in factories that were uncertified. It just felt like a typical jumping on the bandwagon! We found it really quite frustrating, so we thought, let’s do a bag as a response to it. It showed we can do things in a right and proper way but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
VC: With numerous awards under your belt, what has been your proudest achievement to date?
Nin: My proudest achievement is being able to employ people in the business and getting to the point where I can actually pay myself as well.
VC: Congratulations on your mentoring with Yasmin Sewell.
Nin: It was for last season, she is involved with Estethica, which is where we exhibit at London Fashion Week. She feels that there is still a gap between Esthethica and the industry. In response the BFC suggested a mentorship, Yasmin picked Goodone and one other label. We had her for one season, we are still in contact with her and it was a really, really good experience.
VC: How would you describe your A/W2010 collection?
Nin: I think it is one of my favourite collections. We are quite sports influenced, making things that are statement pieces but very wearable. The fabrics we have are a massive influence on what we do as it restricts us but you end up with something that directs you in a certain way. It is quite an important part of the design brief of ‘how can we make it work?’ and thinking about it like that.
VC: You offer consultancy to other brands showing them ethical high route and offering lecturers and workshops to students and consumers. You obviously have a great vision to inspire others, what is your main aim or ethos for Goodone?
Nin: We have our main projects with Tesco and Topshop at the moment and we are designing a fusion line for them, which is coming out in mid-October, it is really affordable sustainable products. Tesco are very pro-active in doing it, as they should be because they are huge…. I see very much the fashion industry as a complete inter-woven with kinds of political and environmental things. It is one of the most damaging industries in the world; the pesticides used in the production of cotton, so much oil used in the production of man-made fibers and the treatments the fabrics go under.
VC: What can we expect coming from Goodone in the future?
Nin: Next season we’d like to pick up new stockists, would really love to keep working with Topshop and do bits and pieces for London Fashion Week. I’d also really like to continue with the projects with Tesco, push that forward and be more innovative with how we produce it. The main aim is to have the collection we have at Fashion Week as the aspirational collection. To showcase what you can do with recycled fabrics, show the potential of them. We could just sell the collection to 50 boutiques and have a nice life but that is not really why we started the business,- we did it to try have a positive impact upon the industry. To work for a lot of companies and to design recycled collections for them or helping them include it in part of their production, pushing forward with that message, that is what really gets us going. Even if just 5% of all clothes were recycled, that would make a huge difference.
Words by Zara King
TagsEstethica, fashion, Goodone, Nin Castle, Tesco, topshop, Yasmin Sewell,