This Autumn we proudly launched Francis Stories, a beautiful knitwear brand that focus on longevity, quality and production in a sustainable and ethical manner considering their approach towards people, animals and the planet. We spoke to Jose, one of the founders, to hear more about their vision, values and the future of fashion.
Tell us more about Francis Stories and who is behind the brand?
Francis Stories, in its core, intends to create high-quality 100% natural garments in a deeply ethical and considered way towards people, animal-life and nature. At Francis Stories, we believe that we have to be an active part of the change in the fashion industry, by educating the customers on the basis of a more considerate fashion consumption and at the same time, by providing them with fashion options that allow them to fulfill their fashion desires while maintaining a high-level of respect for nature, animal life and people. This philosophy is the mindset of the two founders of the brand - Sonia and Jose -, a duo that has been, through the past decade, increasingly growing concerned on the ethical and sustainable problems of the fashion industry and with the lack of viable and transparent options on the market and from the established brands, and wanted to give their contribution to the increasing movement of sustainable fashion that the new generations, born with a deeper concern for the planet and people, have been developing.
What are your core sustainability values?
We believe the best path towards sustainability is through a thoughtful and considered consumption - one where consumers consciously and in an informed way choose garments that are good quality, that will last and will not easily grow tired of which they can wear frequently without degrading rapidly. That's why we create high-quality pieces, whether it is construction-wise, or in the aesthetics. On top of that and because every garment degrades over time and eventually reaches the end of its lifecycle, we believe in using only natural materials, because this way we know nature will be able to reprocess into its resources. Finally, we foster the respect and ethical treatment of people, animals and nature throughout our entire supply chain, by working with highly qualified and educated partners who are able to align with our vision, by working with factories close to us (in Portugal), which we can visit and ensure fair treatment of people and the provision of high standards of working and employment conditions, and by selecting suppliers that are certified by independent entities on the sustainable management of resources and ethical treatment of animals.
You only use natural materials, can you tell us more about why this is, and the wool you use?
From the beginning, we were set on creating a brand and pieces that would leave a minimal and as ephemeral as possible footprint on the planet. Whilst we work into creating pieces that have as long a useful life as possible, we are absolutely aware that nothing lasts forever, and that garments, particularly knitwear, produce waste both during their usage, i.e., through the micro fibres that break free from the piece during wearing and washing, and after they are eventually disposed of at the end of their lifecycle. The solution, for us, is obvious - the use of natural materials, which nature knows how to absorb, how to break down and transform into new things. While recycling is undoubtedly important - particularly for plastic fibres, such as acrylics, poliesters, and the likes -, it will, unfortunately never cover 100% of the end-of-lifecycle garments and it will definitely not tackle the fibres that are released during wearing or washing of the garments, which end up polluting water streams, oceans and lands. That's why we believe so much in only using natural materials.
If you could change anything about the fashion/apparel industry, what would this be and why?
If there was one thing, I'd say it would be education of the consumer - I think that education moves mountains, it is the social sparkle that ignites the flame of change, in whatever situation and social problem we are talking about. Sustainability in fashion is no different - educating consumers is a job for all of us members of the sustainable fashion movement - brands, e-commerce platforms, brick and mortar stores, magazines and other media, blogs and sustainable influencers because with an educated consumer comes a sharp and acute mind One that asks the relevant questions and questions the doings of the brands, and demands transparency and accountability which is all things that the traditional fashion companies are afraid of, because they do know that once they do, they'll stand naked with all their flaws and the marks of their vices out there for the whole world to see. Once again, education will spark the change, and we are all responsible for it.
Can you tell us more about what's in store for Francis Stories over the coming years?
Francis Stories path for the next years is one of consolidation of our collections, of creation of a true core of pieces and designs which we ambition to perfect over and over again, until we virtually reach a set of garments that we are perfectly happy with, and with which our customers are also perfectly happy. These will be pieces that will be perfected to the point that they will be functionally very long-lasting, and aesthetically relevant for (we desire) several decades. We want them to be classics on their own terms, but with our own aesthetic touch. We don't aim to cater to everyone, nor have a wide range of designs that reach a wide audience. We want to focus, find our niche, test and perfect our designs in the immediately next upcoming years, so that we can reach that end game. In the meantime, for as long as we are at this testing and perfecting phase, we will continue to produce smaller quantities than what most brands do, to avoid ending up with deadstock and creating unnecessary waste. Sustainability also comes from the correct management of resources, and we do make our best to follow that as well.