On a mission to make climate beneficial clothing in the UK, slow fashion kwitwear brand, its founder Ruth Rands tells us more about Herd slow fashion clothing brand.
Can you tell us the back story of the brand? Why was it started? Was there a particular trigger or event or idea that helped to form the concept?
I founded HERD in 2020 in response to the climate crisis happening simultaneously to the crisis in the wool industry despite one being a solution to the other! While living in California I came across the Fibreshed movement which talks about the need for local, natural supply chains for fashion which is the second most pollutative industry on the planet as a result of synthetic fibres, supply chains covering thousands of wasteful miles and the laundry list of toxic chemicals used in the process.
On my return to the U.K., I uncovered the long neglected British wool industry, on its knees but with all the factories, knowledge and skill to make the world’s best knitwear from local fibre. Key to HERD is the fleece of the Bluefaced Leicester, the finest of the British wool breed and silky soft rather than scratchy like much of the other wool from the U.K. We re-created the historical wool supply chain with local scourers, carders and combers and launched HERD with our first batch of Herd Wool in five natural shades.
Our first design was the Wyre stitch based on a bud and vine, a whimsical ode to the infinite creativity of hand knitting stitches and the landscape of HERD’s origins, the Northern Uplands.
What is the brand’s mission?
We are bringing joy, by connecting everyone along the knit journey to credit and celebrate the wonder of craftsmanship and creativity that goes into each piece. We are sharing our passion for regenerative farming, re-educating ourselves together about how natural fibres are made and supporting farmers who are farming sustainably. Ultimately we will prove climate beneficial clothing is possible in the UK, creating positive feedback loops within the environment, rural communities and our local economy.
Why wool is so important for the future of fashion and the planet?
Wool is nature’s perfect fibre innovation – it is beautiful, warm, doesn’t need washing often, is non-flammable, easy to repair and keeps it’s shape over time. From an environmental perspective it is absolutely ideal, as it is naturally occurring every year and the sheep need to be shorn for their health. It is abundant across the world, with the U.K making over 80,000 tonnes of wool every year. Crucially it is completely biodegradable and – if processed naturally and without chemicals – will even benefit soil as it contains potassium.
What is unique about the products?
HERD’s knitwear is made from soil to skin within a 150 mile radius of the sheep farms, completely naturally by the skilled craftspeople of the heritage wool industry in the UK, and because we buy the fleeces directly from the farms we can guarantee how it’s made and who by, personally.
Your favourite piece – a recommendation for a customer who hasn’t heard about the brand before.
Our heritage collection is the Wyre, key pieces for elevating the everyday – and we have new colours Mustard and Charcoal launching in A/W23. Our fancy collection is called Lytham after the stunning coastal town in Lancashire, which showcases the very finest in detailed knitting with the shell-inspired lace stitches and finishing with its’ ruffs and frills.
Any plan for this year?
We are launching a new collection called Freckleton inspired by the patchwork fields of the Northern Uplands which I’m very excited about.
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