News from our Founder
I am pleased to announce that we have joined the Fair Wear Foundation.
With the support of Fair Wear we will be able to ensure that all the people involved in making our clothes are treated with respect, receive a decent wage, work in a good environment and have full rights.
Our suppliers are a key part of our business, and most of them are long-term partners. We have ten main factories making 95% of our clothes, and on average we have worked with these companies for 14 years. So we already know them very well. They are small factories, focused on making high-quality clothes, each with their particular area of expertise. I have personally visited them many times over the years and so I am confident that they share our values in terms of respect for people and the environment.
However, we are a small business without the resources for continuous factory audits, so we looked around for someone to help us with this. There are a number of organisations in this field but I was particularly impressed with Fair Wear because their approach is very pragmatic and focused on driving real change in the workplace. They will regularly audit our factories and then we will agree together with the management of our suppliers on areas for improvement. Together we will make a real change for the better.
Founder and Creative Director
Packed with love and care
We send all our orders out in sturdy recycled cardboard boxes that are made locally in Nottingham by Boxes Direct. This is a company we have used since we started, we have never imported cardboard. These boxes are made from 70% recycled material and are themselves 100% recyclable. The same firm also collects any cardboard waste we produce and recycles it for us.
We ask that anything that is unsuitable, or the wrong size is sent back to us in the same box which ensures that the item is protected whilst being shipped. If you choose not to return your garment, the cardboard can easily be recycled at home once you are finished with it.
All returns are opened by hand and the items carefully checked for damage. If the items are unworn, other than for the purposes of trying on, they are steamed, to take out the creases, and re-packed in recyclable bags, ready to be re-sold. These bags are made by epi using TDPA™ technology which means that the bags are degradable and will rot much faster when exposed to oxygen.
If the items have small faults such as a loose button, these repairs are made by our in-house seamstress. If the items are damaged beyond repair for re-sale, they are still repaired but will go into our warehouse sale of end of lines and repaired returns. Held intermittently at our site in Leicestershire, these sales are very popular locally, with the proceeds going to charity. In the last years, some of the local charities we have supported are LOROS - a hospice near us in Leicester, Coalville Stroke Club, and Crohn's & Colitis UK.
We also regularly make donations of repaired items and end of lines to charity. Throughout the pandemic, we have given significant amounts of clothing to Helpforce, and we are building up a network of NHS initiatives that we support across the country. Through donations, we have also been supporting smaller local charities and are able to help women leaving unstable homes to start again with a new wardrobe.
You may have read about online retailers sending some of their returns and unwanted stock to landfills. We never have and never will throw away a single piece of clothing. Our clothes are made with love and care and we treat their production with respect.
Made from 99% natural fabrics, our clothes are environmentally sustainable and designed to bring years of joy to the wearer. If many years down the line, a much-loved cardigan was to be thrown away, it would naturally biodegrade.
We have been working in this way since we started over 20 years ago.
Thank you for taking the time to get
to know us a little better. A family-run
business based in Fulham, we've been
designing womenswear for over 18 years.
Committed to making beautiful clothes;
our West London studio is home to a small
team who meticulously design every single
piece from sketch to sample to shoot.
We believe well-made clothing has the ability to make you feel confident and stylish whilst relaxed and comfortable as you go about your busy lives. Made using only the finest natural materials: from linen blends and gorgeous cotton to pure cashmere and silk, for us, a great piece of clothing always begins with exceptional fabric.
DRESS UP IN EVERYDAY
Attention to detail and touches of femininity
make our everyday styles feel luxurious, yet
laid-back and wearable. Floral embroideries
and abstract prints elevate our essential
denim and sleek leather styles to create
an off-duty wardrobe that is effortlessly
gorgeous and unique.
How are Wrap London clothes made?
Designed to elevate everyday dressing, Wrap London clothes are defined by distinctive details, exquisite embroidery, unique colours and intricate stitching. We are joining Fair Wear to give greater transparency and reassurance to our customers so that we can be proud of what we do and have a positive impact on the wider community as well as the environment.
Our Founder and Creative Director, Luke Dashper, is addressing the production of our garments below:
In summary, all the knitwear, most of the wovens and about half of the jersey styles are made in China. We have always had a significant amount of production from Portugal, specifically garment-dyed linen trousers, jeans and jersey which the Portuguese are very strong at. We have been working over the last two years with one supplier in India, slowly growing our business with them focusing on clothes in cotton which is grown and spun in India. We do a small number of leather and suede styles each season which are actually made in very small quantities in a long-established workshop in East London. Recently we have started doing a small amount of outerwear from Romania.
What these various factories all have in common is that they are based in areas where there is a history and therefore the related skills and knowledge of making a certain type of clothing. Chinese knitwear, Portuguese jersey, Indian cotton, Eastern European tailoring and so on.
We have worked with all of our suppliers for many years, the majority of our clothes being made by factories we have worked with for at least ten years. I know the owners of the factories and I have visited them many times. They are all high-end factories making relatively small quantities, at a very high-quality level. As a result, their workers are highly skilled and experienced. These are not the factories making huge quantities of clothes that are sold at incredibly low prices by big high street retailers, it really is another world. There are absolutely no children involved. The factories are bright and spacious. The labour laws are strong and adhered to.
Some of our customers question the use of Chinese factories. A few things to consider in relation to China. Over the last thirty years, China’s economy has been opened up to international trade. As a result of this trade literally hundreds of millions of people have moved out of poverty and as this has happened the wages of workers in China have risen steadily to the point where China is now considered an expensive place to have clothes made. The Chinese government has steadily increased the protection of the workers so the additional costs of employing people in China have risen progressively as well. As a result, low-cost clothes making has relocated from China to places like Cambodia, Vietnam and Bangladesh. These countries are able to make clothes much cheaper than China but the clothes are of lower quality and the workers are paid less and in many cases less well treated. Even if we were comfortable with the working practises in these other countries, which we are not, the factories there would not be interested in our low volume, high-quality orders.
Whilst China has undergone a process of economic liberation, the same cannot be said of its politics. I have concerns about some of the policies of the Chinese government. However, we don’t deal with the government, we deal directly with privately owned businesses, the owners of which I count as friends and who I believe to be decent people trying to run a business for the long term, with people working for them for many years and across generations. We carry on with our trade regardless of the politics. I think this is the right thing to do?
One thing the Chinese government has done over recent years is to increase the protection of workers and also the environment, and these new laws are enforced. This has resulted in higher pay, more holidays and less pollution. So in this respect, the Chinese government is doing some good.
When looking at where clothes are made you need also to question who has made the clothes and in what conditions. Actually, some of the worst abuses of labour in the textile trade happen much closer to home. There are sweatshops in the west where immigrants work, often in much worse conditions than in developing economies. Bangladeshi workers in factories in Leicester, Mexicans in Los Angeles factories and lots of Chinese workers in Italian factories.
So it isn’t really a question of in what country the clothes are made. What really matters is who made the clothes, in what conditions and with what pay and rights. In this respect, I am proud of the clothes that we make, confident that the workers are well treated, in the same way as the people who work directly for us are well treated.
This is not a finished job though. We operate in an ever-changing world and we will continue to evolve and adapt. From one season to the next, the vast majority of our clothes are made by long-established suppliers, but we are always looking to improve our business and trying new things with new people. You can rest assured that in everything we do we are guided by our core values and beliefs. Decency and respect for our fellow human beings, whether suppliers, customers or employees is more important to me than maximising this year’s profit. In the long term, decency and respect deliver financial security and without the support of the people we interact with there would be no business.
An interview with our Founder Luke Dashper
Luke was interviewed last year and asked questions both about the opening of our new Poetry shop in Marylebone High Street in London and more broadly about how his company started and what is important to him.
Wrap London and Poetry are sister brands so we are sharing this article here.
Poetry in Motion (Marylebone Journal, Feb/March 2020)
To read the original interview, please click here.
The Journal pays a visit to the London design studio of Poetry, a fashion brand with a penchant for slowness in an era obsessed with speed
WORDS: LAUREN BRAVO
It all starts with the fabric. Never before have I looked this intently at a linen shirt, or possibly any shirt. I’ve stroked many a velvet trouser in my time, don’t get me wrong, but not cooed over the superior warp and weft of a hemp-jersey blend, or admired an extra-wide placket. You see, I’m under the influence of Poetry—not freeform verse but its textile equivalent, Marylebone High Street’s new kid on the block.
In fact, Poetry isn’t ‘new’ at all: the womenswear brand has more than two decades under its belt as a catalogue and e-commerce line, winning loyal fans across the UK, USA and Germany with its elegantly understated aesthetic. Still, it’s taken years to foray into bricks and mortar. Poetry’s first stores, on Chelsea’s Symons Street, opened in 2016 — and now, a little over three years later, they’ve come to Marylebone.
“Our process has always been slow,” laughs founder Luke Dashper, at the brand’s Putney studio. “We’re in a different world to fast fashion.” Unlike the big high street chains, which can take clothes from the drawing board to the shop floor in a matter of days, patience is a virtue here. “Good things take time,” he says, showing me around the light- filled space covered in swatches and sketches. “You can’t believe how much time it takes, when you consider every detail. We sit around for hours, analysing fabrics and discussing shades of blue.”
That willingness to work at a different pace from most of the industry gives Poetry a very timely selling point: sustainability. There’s nothing like a bout of eco-anxiety to take the shine off that brand new outfit— but at this point, the facts are hard to ignore. The global textile industry produces 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 a year, a carbon footprint larger than civil aviation and maritime shipping combined. Every year in the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of clothing end up in landfill—often barely used, as these days the average garment is worn just seven times. At the end of many complex and unwieldy supply chains you’ll find poverty wages, inhumane working conditions, even modern slavery.
And while it’s the cheapest brands that tend to come under the most scrutiny, a higher price tag is far from a get-out-of-guilt-free card. Premium fashion is often no more ethical than its budget counterparts. The annual Fashion Transparency Index by industry pressure group Fashion Revolution lists high-end labels like Chanel and Max Mara as some of its worst offenders, alongside Matalan and River Island. In fact, it’s a confusing time for fashion fans all round, with many brands falling over themselves to announce ‘conscious’ collections, and grandiose pledges to do better, without necessarily making good on those promises.
“I get a bit irritated because I see fashion businesses that are not sustainable, but they’ll do one fabric that’s organic and say they are,” says Luke. “Lots of people are just bandying terms around.” Still, making clothes with minimal impact to the planet is no easy feat, especially when you want them to have sartorial impact too. Poetry’s clothes are all made from natural fibres, mostly linen, hemp, organic cotton and eco-friendly favourite Tencel. The brand is now in the process of switching all its viscose to EcoVero, a more sustainable, traceable fabric made with wood pulp sourced from responsibly managed forests. Orders are sent out in cardboard boxes, not bags, and thanks to small manufacturing runs,no clothes are ever sent to landfill.
But Luke is keen to point out that there’s always more to be done—next up, eliminating plastic bags and hangers from their warehouse — and that growing interest among customers in traceability and ethics is keeping the brand on its toes. “I think all of a sudden, everyone is really conscious. Certainly in my world anyway. I can’t buy a vegetable wrapped in plastic anymore,” he says. Yet, he admits, in some ways Poetry’s clothes are sustainable by chance. “We started using hemp not because it was good for the planet, if I’m honest, but because it’s a lovely fabric and it makes nice clothes. That’s always been my starting point: what makes beautiful clothes?” Focus on designing the best possible garment, he believes, “and the rest will take care of itself”. Luke has been obsessed with beautiful clothes since he was a teenager. “I used to spend all my money on one jumper,” he says. Under the influence of an eco-conscious mother (“her philosophy was ‘buy once, buy well’”) and an entrepreneurial father who ran a textile business in Loughborough, he left a corporate job in finance and logistics to launch Poetry—without any fashion or design training. “I’ve never drawn a dress,” he admits. “But I learned through hiring good people and then through experience.”
Two decades later, the Poetry team is still small and focused. There are just 14 in the brand’s studio, with a warehouse and operations team based in Leicester, run by Luke’s wife Hannah. Then there are the factories; mostly small, owner-managed businesses in China, Hong Kong and Romania, which Luke regularly visits. But we might ask, can a ‘Made in China’ label truly be considered sustainable? Shouldn’t they be made here? “There’s just no way on earth this range of clothes could be made in Britain,” he says. “There aren’t the factories, they just don’t exist.” Once upon a time, they did. In the 1970s, the UK textile industry was booming. British-made brands like Viyella, Daks Simpson and John Smedley comfortably outfitted the nation and specialist factories employed around a million skilled workers across the country. But the turn of the millennium saw a mass exodus as the majority of western garment production was offshored, mostly to south and east Asia, a process known as “chasing the cheapest needle around the world”.
Slowly the tide is turning again, with a small resurgence in UK manufacturing—Jaeger, John Lewis and Clarks have all opened new factories here. But for now, Poetry is proud of its international suppliers, a list which includes Italian wool, Chinese silk and Peruvian alpaca yarn. “The best suppliers for a particular material tend to be those located where the material has a long history and is part of the culture,” reads the brand manifesto. It’s a multicultural blend that reflects the brand’s birthplace, after all. “I’d say we’re more a London brand than a British brand. Our look isn’t traditional, it isn’t tweedy jackets or Guernsey sweaters. It’s much more contemporary,” says Luke. In a landscape where the word ‘luxury’ can mean anything from ash labels to whipped cream on hot chocolate, he’s clear on his personal definition. “Not ‘dressing-up’ luxury; it’s luxury in comfort. Clothes that feel lovely to wear.”
Poetry’s silhouettes are roomy, but not in a way that only Scandinavian architects can pull off. Colours are equally understated—in fashion speak, “greyed-off, subtle, muted”— with a harmonious palette that evolves from season to season but rarely ventures into the realm of the bright, the stark or the splashy. And what about (whisper it) trends? “Some brands dictate trends to their customers, whereas our customers have a point of view, an established aesthetic,” says Luke. “They know what they like. Understanding what they want is more important to us than whatever’s coming down the catwalk this season.
They’re clothes that our customers build their wardrobes around and they wear them for a long time.” He pauses. “Unfortunately.” Fickle fads might be the antithesis of Poetry’s long-wear philosophy, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s anti-fashion, either. “We plough our own furrow, but we don’t exist in a bubble,” he adds. “We don’t do ‘classic’. Nothing we do is classic. If we do a cashmere v-neck, for example, it’ll be a bit oversized with a dropped shoulder.”
Nor does the brand go after celeb endorsements (“Meryl Streep maybe?”) or chase certain demographics. “It’s interesting, we don’t ever talk about the age of the customer,” says Luke. “Last week in the Marylebone store we had a 20-something woman and a 60-something woman both trying on clothes at the same time.” Luke maintains that attitude and lifestyle have a much greater bearing. “If we started designing clothes ‘for older people’ then they’d definitely stop shopping with us. Nobody wants that." What they do want is a pleasant experience. In an age of mindless scrolling and one-click purchases, the tactile reality of an ‘IRL’ store serves two purposes: to introduce new customers to Poetry, and to provide kind of pilgrimage for the brand’s existing mail order fans.
“It makes complete sense to have retail,” says Luke. “I believe in real world experience, socialising and interacting with other human beings. We make clothes out of beautiful fabrics, and there’s nothing like touching and feeling the real thing.” How does he want people to feel when they step into a Poetry store? “Very calm, very comfortable and relaxed,” he says. There’s the warm, tonal colour palette. The artfully soft lighting. The fresh displays by florist Rob Van Helden. Not here the pushy sales tactics or sneeze-and you’re-dead tension of some high-end boutiques; Poetry wants you to get up close and personal with the clothes.
“The shops are not about maximising sales per day per square foot. It’s part of the whole relationship.” To complete the in-store experience, the brand has introduced a ‘Poetry by appointment’ service, where customers can book a shopping slot online and request the clothes they’d like to try on in advance, so they’re guaranteed the right items and the right size will be waiting for them (unlike the majority of sustainably-focused brands, Poetry’s clothes go up to a size 22). There’s no obligation to buy anything you try. Earning customer loyalty, just like making good clothes, is a long game. And it pays off. “If I ever need my day brightened, I just go onto our website and read the reviews,” says Luke. “Often I read reviews where people say, ‘thank you Poetry, I’m so glad I found you’. It’s an emotional thing. It isn’t just about keeping people warm and decent. If you like your clothes, you feel better about yourself. You feel good.”