This brand has an amazing story to tell, a concept to be inspired by, a phylosophy that should be emulated more and more. “It all started back in 2012 when I was one year into my BA in fashion design and still had very little knowledge of how the fashion industry was put together. While I slowly gained greater insight into the pollution and treatment of animals in the industry, I one day went with my mom to collect raw wool from a local sheep farmer who owned a small herd of Texel sheep – a breed which is bred for its meat qualities and not its wool. My mom has always been keen on using her hands for knitting, weaving and has even spun her own yarns on her wooden spinning wheel. When we drove home from the sheep breeder I asked my mom what would happen with the loads of wool we didn’t collect and to my surprise she answered: “If no one else picks it up, the farmer will discard it by burning it.” I was in chock and thus my work with Danish wool began.
I finally realised the concept for my BA exam in 2014, where I did a great deal of research into the fashion industry, and learned about mulesing of sheep. I contacted a sheep breeder, picked up wool that was supposed to be burned, and saw how well taken care of his animals were – and I liked having that control with animal welfare. I then sent it to an old spinning mill on the Danish island of Funen, where I had my yarns spun and finally I used them for knitted and woven pieces. After graduating from my MA in sustainable textile design at UAL in London I was certain I needed to start SANDERMANN and it became a reality in February 2017.
What’s the concept of your latest collection? To 1) use wool that would have otherwise been discarded, spun into yarns in Denmark and knitted by us in Ikast, Denmark, on domestic knitting machines and 2) to source deadstock fabrics from the remaining local textile industry for trousers, tops and dresses – and to design them with a zero waste approach.
Creatively, we’ve been working around the theme “Through Another Prism” which is about looking at the fashion system and industry through another prism and trying to do something different than everyone else. We took it very literal in the beginning and started the creative process by taking photos of objects through prisms, glass, mirrors and water and we got some pretty cool imagery out of it, which led to the final designs made of waste materials. So, the final designs are somehow my thoughts transformed into form.
What does “rethinking waste” mean? When working on SANDERMANN products we try to be as mindful as possible in all phases of the supply chain. We source end-of-roll newspaper for constructing garment patterns, we use old bed linen for toiles and we always sort our waste (if we produce any) for recycling. Design-wise we use to types of materials: the wool for knitwear and deadstock fabrics for trousers, tops and dresses. For the trousers, tops and dresses we use a zero waste pattern design approach and the knitted garments are fully fashioned which means they are knitted into their shape – also zero waste.
We try to mostly let the knitwear shine in it’s natural colour, but if we have to dye, we use as little dye as possible. When we dye the wool, the exhaust method is applied, which means there’s no dyestuff left in the dyebath after dyeing. Only clean water comes down the drain. We knit all SANDERMANN knitwear on non-electric manual knitting machines and all of the other garments are sewn at our base in Ikast, Denmark by a Danish seamstress. So I think it’s safe to say we put our focus on solid waste management and thus are rethinking how we use and produce waste.
How is your brand ethical ? I try very much to always “avoid activities (…) that do harm to people or the environment” and therefore I call it ethical. I would, for instance, never support harmful shearing of sheep, mulesing or bad working environments for the people who produce my yarns. Also, I believe I’m doing something good by using resources which would otherwise have been discarded. Afterall I think it’s insane that we import wool and yarns from Australia, New Zealand and China when we have wool here in the country just going to waste.
What’s the future of fashion according to you? I think, and hope, we will see a great shift in fashion towards a more mindful and conscious consumption pattern, like we have seen with organic food (especially in Denmark). I hope consumers will engange, be critical and not buy garments because they’re fashionable, but buy them because they love them and will continue to love them. Some of the best kept items I have in my wardrobe are knitted wool sweaters my mom knitted for me years ago and I will never, ever throw them out.
What’s your next project? I just finished and shot photos of my latest collection Through Another Prism, and this collection will be shown at a collections presentation event in London in the end of October. Then I’ll move into a phase where I’ll start producing those garments in small quantities and put them on my webshop. Hopefully people will love them and love the story behind!