PROFILES SOCIAL ISSUES

Making a Practical Commitment to Sustainable Fashion

Sustainability, particularly sustainable fashion, can be a tricky catch all phrase. Often, we are committed to the idea of making more planet-friendly choices, but in reality don’t commit in a meaningful way. This is why entrepreneur Frances Grace has recently started a business focused on upcycled clothes and accessories. Already a popular Instagram resource, Frances is building a web framework to provide local knowledge, tips and information to help consumers practically integrate sustainable fashion into their lives; from local shop reviews, thrifting tips, upcycling projects, to fabric and brand information.

Upcycling: Making it Look Easy

Look at the projects on Frances’s Instagram account (@francesgracedesign), and you see how easy it is to be chic and conscious about waste. So we took the opportunity to track Frances down and ask her thoughts about sustainable fashion, upcycling; and what’s practical day-to-day.

Frances shows her upcycling projects on Instagram

Tell us About Frances Grace Design?

Frances Grace Design (FGD) is based on the concept of sourcing second hand clothes, fabric and accessories for curation and upcycling into new garments and other items. By upcycling items you can give them a longer lease on life; reducing waste, and providing unique alternatives to fast fashion.

What Does Sustainable Fashion Mean to You?

Sustainable fashion can be interpreted in a variety of ways; with some forms coming at a premium. An expensive price tag is not the only way to achieve a sustainable/ethical wardrobe. My aim is to share insight into exciting and satisfying ways to create your own style, whilst making it accessible to everyone. By providing knowledge and choices means that we can make informed decisions and small changes to our consumer habits. Cumulatively, this will have a big impact on reducing our environmental footprint, treating people (primarily women) fairly, and encouraging a regenerative design culture.

What Brought you to Focus on Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainability is a concept I am very experienced with, through my education and professional career in Town Planning. And EVERYTHING I learnt during this time and implemented into the work environment had ‘sustainability’ at its core. Particularly in a country like the UK (my home up until a couple of years ago) where land is a restricted commodity; using new land was the last resort. These concepts and the circular nature of them correlates to the current evolution of the fashion industry.

How did Life Changes Impact the Decision to Start a Sustainable Fashion Business?

Family life brought me to work for myself; as I decided that I wanted the flexibility to stay home with our two daughters. Also, my husband and I also moved our family internationally from the UK to the US. Initially to Little Rock, Arkansas; and two years later to Grapevine, Texas. Sewing has been part of my life for 10 years, and I was curious whether I could make a career out of something that initially started as a hobby.

Also during our time in Little Rock I studied fashion design for eight months; mastering a range of sewing skills, pattern drafting and couture techniques. This reinforced my love for sewing, whilst giving me insight into the different careers in this field. It was important to shape a path that could be adapted to our changing locations and provide flexibility to be available for our girls as their needs changed. 

What’s Next?

Since our move to Texas, I have taken a couple of classes in new skill areas — draping and fashion illustration. And then during 2018 I started to think about how I could make my sewing more mindful and deliberate. I set a few goals to use up my fabric stash, existing patterns and not to buy any new clothes; and started educating myself through sewing podcasts, books, and seminars, this resulted in reawakening my sustainable mind set. I think in part, this was a response to my new environment and the ease of overconsumption.

You can see more of Frances’s creations on Instagram @francesgracedesign.