Preston based UCLan graduate hoping to change the industry with her sustainable fashion company
Eleanor's clothing and accessories company, 'Wild Strings' offers an ethical alternative to high street brands.
A University of Central Lancashire alumna is fighting against fast fashion and hoping to change people's shopping habits with her Preston based sustainable fashionable company.
‘Wild Strings’ was founded by 25 year old Eleanor Bradley in 2018 after she completed a degree in Fashion Design at UCLan, and she still runs the company single handedly from her home in Preston.
Although Eleanor always had a passion for fashion, the idea to create a sustainable brand, with a slower, more personal approach, came about in rebellion to the modern fast fashion industry.
Eleanor, originally from West Yorkshire explained: “I always pictured myself having my own fashion brand, but as part of my studies at UCLan, I had an internship at a fast fashion company for a year, and it was an incredible experience, I learned so much, but I also saw a lot of things that I didn't want to participate in going forward.
"Things like overconsumption; low cost price, like some of the dresses, they were buying in for maybe £4 and selling for £20; also new styles out every day; a massive reliance on new plastic base materials like polyester and sort of an attitude that that was all okay.”
In terms of how Wild Strings works, Eleanor creates a range of ethical clothing and accessories for "creative women", focusing mainly on dresses and denim pieces that are created from secondhand materials, and she allows her buyer to pick their own fabric, which she then handmakes their order in.
She said: "I have a slower approach, I open the shop once a month, and the amount of orders that come in that month, is how much I sell.
“It's really going against that fast fashion module, so no waste, everything's handmade to order and making sure that people are really thinking about the purchase that they make, rather than just buying it on a whim because they've seen an advert for it.
“It's all about connecting with the clothing that we buy, and giving an opportunity to give life to secondhand materials that would otherwise go to waste or go to landfill."
Eleanor believes its important for shoppers around the globe to shop more sustainably and conscientiously, due to the strains our environment is under, and she hopes that companies such as hers offer an accessible way to do so.
She explained: “It's just mind blowing how much clothing waste we already have in the world. When Oxfam did Secondhand September, they released a statistic that 30 million pieces of clothing go to landfill a week, which is insane. I really think that it's on companies to slow down their consumption but I think as a consumer, we have a massive power in where we put our money and where we spend our time, and I think it's really important to be more considerate, with what we're buying to stop all of this waste going to landfill."
Eleanor even appeared on BBC North West in October, during the COP 26, to speak about the issues surrounding sustainability in the fashion industry.
For the programme, she also let camera crews follow her around "in a day in the life of me" as she went charity clothes shopping, where most of Wild Strings fabrics are sourced.
Eleanor added: "I spoke about how we can change the fashion industry so that it's not geared towards this massive consumption module, and instead we’re thinking more about reusing, rather than creating new materials, and the feedback from that was incredible, so many people messaged saying that they loved what I was doing, and they resonated with the message, I even had phone calls from people asking if they could donate fabric, which was just amazing."
Not only did the exposure on the BBC help promote Wild Strings, but Eleanor says that in general business has picked up since the pandemic, and she believes it could be part of a cultural reset.
Eleanor said: "I think, in many ways, lockdown’s been really tough, but it's made a lot of people slow down. I've definitely had people come to me who might not have before the pandemic and been like, actually, I don't need three new pieces of clothing a week, and I do understand the waste we create, so I think people are starting to connect with it a lot more."
Although the business is growing from strength to strength, Eleanor has no desire to expand much more out of her current Preston based studio in her home.
She explained: “Obviously, I'd love to keep growing, but I think, as a sustainable business, I have to be careful about how I do that. At the minute, I'm happy with where it's at, and running it from home means I'm not using extra energy, so if I was to expand, it would probably be to a back garden studio or something, where I could have more face to face interaction with customers, but I don't ever see myself having a big warehouse, with hundreds of thousands of employees, because I don't think that that fits with the ethos of what I do.
"Ultimately the business is all about sustainability, reusing and upcycling, and I think that that travels across lots of different industries, and especially around Christmas time, it’s important that we all start thinking more mindfully about how we can reuse everything."