Tucked away in the country hills of Cheshire, sits a quaint little warehouse surrounded by green. Inside, busy sewing bees craft the masterpieces of Uskees: fashionable workwear, made to last.
UK fashion adores traditional workwear, with brands like Dickies and Carhartt earning admiration from all generations, and many high street stores producing their own cheap knockoffs. But there’s a new kid on the block, and they might just be the UK’s answer to sustainable unisex clothing.
Further West, venturing into Salford, is where the brain behind the brand resides. In a city full to the brim of creativity and diversity, there’s no wonder genius was created here. After working in the retail industry for many years, Paul Clapham relaunched his business Uskees just last year, designing a functional yet fashionable clothing line, made using purely sustainable practices.
“I saw a change in the general relationship with fashion and clothing; a gradual shift to a faster, quicker model - built on ever changing trends and the cutting of corners.” Paul said.
“When the time eventually came for me to create the first Uskees range, I knew that the cycle of fast fashion was going to be my number one enemy.” Paul said.
“I wanted a range that rallied against the pitfalls of modern clothing, without compromising the quality and design of the garments.” He said. “Something that was made entirely for the modern day, without succumbing to the glut of unsustainable present-day processes.”
And he did just that.
Almost 100% of Uskees clothing is made from organic, ethically-sourced materials, with the exception of the thread – although we have been informed that this is due to change. The brand also has a great bond with the independent tailors who craft their GOTS certified cotton, a relationship that has lasted over 7 years. Paul prides himself on this, visiting the team on several occasions to ensure ethical working conditions for the tailors, and a living wage too.
What’s more, Uskees clothing is dyed using non-toxic, organic dyes, meaning no nasty chemicals are being released back into the environment during the production process. The fight for environmentally friendly clothes is something that this Mancunian brand holds very close to their heart, and is a driving force in every stage of manufacture. The fight against the fast fashion industry is proving to be a tough one, but brands like Uskees show us that on-trend clothing can be produced without using unsustainable practices, and will continue to be in style for decades after.
One of the most interesting parts about the clothing line is, funnily enough, the buttons. Uskees have created the unimaginable: buttons made out of nuts.
“In a world full of plastic, I knew we needed to use something much better for the environment for our buttons.” Paul said. “We did a lot of research and came across the Tagua Palm, a tree that grows in the equatorial rainforests of Central America.”
The nuts from the Tagua Palm are carefully harvested and used as something called ‘vegetable ivory’. From what we know about the real ivory trade, this material is sturdy but can be easily carved, making these nuts the perfect natural resource for some beautiful, plastic-free buttons. And they look pretty cool too.
The Uskees clothing line boasts a whole range of products, from dungarees and overalls, to shirts and blazers. The new star of the show, however, is the 3004 Organic Blazer. This little black beauty has been flying off the rails, due to its utilitarian silhouette and functional design; a simple yet classic design reworked for a contemporary audience.
And the best part: each item of clothing is packaged up neatly with its very own ‘repair kit’. These repair kits include extra materials for customers to fix any patches, or areas of wear and tear, themselves. This means that, instead of throwing away the clothes when they falter – which is bound to happen if you wear it a lot – you can fix them up instead, saving useful fabrics from heading straight to landfill.
Paul said: "The idea was developed from the fact that, whenever you buy an item of clothing, you get a spare button. We wanted to take that idea a bit further, supporting the brand message of 'make do and mend' as opposed to just chuck away and buy another one."
“We wanted to acknowledge that things can go wrong,” he continued, “but here’s something to put it right if it does.”
"How do I get my hands on some?!"- we hear you ask. Do not fret, for Uskees have now gone international, and they have their very own dedicated US domain HERE. So you can get your sustainable threads no matter what state you’re in.
BQ - Fast fashion has been king for too long. Long live Uskees.