What Makes The Last Kult an Ethical, Sustainable Goth Brand?
Hi, I'm Natalie, and I'm the designer behind The Last Kult.
There are increasing numbers of fashion brands claiming sustainability these days, and not being entirely transparent with how their clothes are produced in the process, so I thought I would write this article to be as upfront with you as possible, and give you all the information you need to make a proper, informed choice when deciding to buy sustainable goth fashion from us.
I'm going to detail every step of the production cycle, so this will be a somewhat length article, but I hope you will bear with me!
To be honest, this is such an extensive subject, I will probably write a separate article on the pros and cons of each particular fabric as they all have varying environmental impacts in their production; some more so than others, but suffice to say we use a wide range from polyesters to viscose, linen and cottons, PVC and leatherettes.
How we source them is a little different though- many of our fabrics are overstock/ mill ends, where companies and fabric mills have produced excess fabric and sell it off to the secondary market in the UK, which is why we often have limited amounts of a certain design in a particular print/style. I'm also very fussy about the quality of the fabrics used, as this is a cornerstone of producing clothing that will last and last, making them valuable to the growing circular economy of secondhand and future vintage (or just being a long term staple of your wardrobe!)
Moving forward, the plan is to work towards using more low environmental impact fabrics, such as lyocell viscose and linen blend, recycled cottons and other natural fibres, and phase out microplastics as much as possible. We currently already don't use synthetic fleece in our garments, as this fabric is extremely bad at shedding large amounts of microplastics every time it's washed.
2) Production Model and Manufacturing
Made to Order-
Currently all our designs are made to order, which simply means that when you place an order, we then make it. This is not the same as custom made to measure, but it does allow us to easily accommodate such requests if we are asked for it.
It can be a little frustrating to have to wait a little longer for your order, but it's excellent for sustainability, as we don't overstock certain sizes, or if we release a design that's not popular, there's no excess garments produced that end up in landfill or burnt, which is a huge problem with mass produced fast fashion, with hundreds of millions of tons of unsold clothing being disposed of every year.
We Don't Do Season Collections-
We don't do the endless treadmill of Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer collections. I release new designs as and when they're made, and they're available for as long as there is fabric to make them, or they stop selling. I only say a design is limited edition if it really is, so no more FOMO for most things.
Made in the UK-
All our clothing and accessories are made here in my little workshop in Birmingham, UK, and currently everything is made by hand by me. We don't outsource production of anything outside the UK, and we don't use dodgy British sweatshops either.
We Pay Above the Living Wage-
Our hourly wage rate is £15ph, well above even the suggested Living Wage. Most sewing machinist jobs, even in the UK, only pay minimum wage (I know, because I applied for such jobs before I started my own business) despite it being a skilled and demanding job. This is the rate I pay myself, and is also what any future employees will be paid as we grow. Many companies will baulk at publicising pay rates, but I think it's an important piece of information for customers to be sure fair wages are being paid.
I'm still in the process of making our packaging 100% plastic free and fully biodegradable in an eco-friendly way, but we're about 90% of the way there. The goal is to have sturdy packaging that can survive the rough treatment of international delivery, whilst being fully recyclable AND compostable. For most orders we use strong cardboard boxes, tissue paper and a newer innovation; biofilm bags. These are made of starch from food waste, such as potatoes, and are certified compostable. These keep your garment safe and waterproof in transit, and don't leach harmful chemicals, unlike biodegradable plastic bags which have simply had an additive included to break down the plastic quicker.
For smaller items, we're still using Jiffy bags (which have a bubblewrap lining) as experiments with paper padded versions have been less than successful so far, plus we still need a good eco-friendly packing tape, but these are improvements we are working on.
As well as the shift to more low impact fabrics, and attaining our goal of 100% eco-friendly packaging, one of the other big improvements we want to achieve is making the workshop where your garments are made more energy efficient. This is a long term project that will involve installing sustainable insulation, replacing lighting and electricals, as well as more energy efficient equipment.
I hope this article is helpful to you, but if you have an questions, please feel free to email me. Our contact info is at the bottom of each page.