There is a lot of noise around sustainable and ethical fashion, with many companies using it as a marketing tool, without any substance. However, the unisex clothing brand CWT and its founder, Karandeep Mattu claims to be doing things the right way.
CWT was set up during the first lockdown when manufacturing ground to a halt, and it’s underpinned by a British manufacturing heritage that dates back to 1972. Luxurious Magazine’s Deputy Editor, Sabi Phagura, caught up with Karandeep Mattu, the brand’s founder, to learn its story and understand its ethical and sustainable goals.
LM: You have been in clothes manufacturing for years. How did it all start?
Karandeep Mattu: It all started in 1968 when my grandad and his brother had just brought their first house together. There was a coal shed in the garden that had an overlock and lockstitch machine that the previous owners had left. At the time, they were both working at Russell’s steel foundry in Leicester. At first, they used the machine to repair their clothes and eventually, they started to repair clothes for their friends and family.
Over time they learned how to take clothes apart and put them back together again, and they gained the necessary skills and knowledge of basic garment construction.
In the 1970s, my grandad’s shift pattern changed, and he worked during the night. His brother, my great uncle, continued to work during the day, and somewhere along the line (nobody remembers who or how!), they decided to approach a local factory to ask them for sewing work since they had got pretty good at it!
They were overjoyed when the factory agreed as they were behind on orders, and that’s how it all started! My grandad eventually quit the factory and was sewing full-time day and night. It wasn’t long after that my great uncle also quit to begin working with him.
In 1972, they registered a Private Limited Company and rented out a 1000sq factory and the rest is history, it’s been in the Mattu family ever since!
LM: There is a lot of noise around sustainable and ethical fashion right now. Is this what prompted you to launch the CWT brand?
Karandeep: I grew up in a factory, my brother and I spent all our school holidays there jumping around on the rolls of fabric or playing hide and seek around the factory. I just loved being there and fell in love with the atmosphere, the noise of the machines and even the smells!
Ever since I was a little boy, I have wanted to start a clothing brand, mainly because I thought it was glamourous. When I had some time to think during the first lockdown, it was time to strike and launch my own brand with my own ethos and beliefs. I have always wanted to strive for sustainability, so sustainable business was a priority, and that sustainability element just carried on running through into the products.
LM: What do you think has spurred people to take an interest in ethical and sustainable clothing?
Karandeep: I think people are waking up to the fact that not only does clothing have to be sustainable, but everything we consume in our lives have to be sustainable, from food, cars, water, power, etc. We cannot keep turning a blind eye as it can’t go on forever without having serious repercussions on the environment.
LM: Tell us about your work and the products that CWT produces.
Karandeep: We supply high-end brands with T-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies; we source the finest cotton worldwide and turn it into long-lasting products.
Our products are made to last by using extra-long-staple cotton. The fabric is 40% stronger than normal cotton, and the long fibres mean the colours are more vibrant and stay within the fibres for longer.
The result of this is that the colour doesn’t fade over time, which means you can wear it for longer. We launched with our T-shirts in the summer and expect our hoodies to be available on the website in early December.
LM: What sets CWT apart from other similar brands? Do you have unique working practices?
Karandeep: CWTs knowledge and expertise set us apart in addition to the cotton, dyeing, cutting, and sewing. We know what it takes to produce garments that will get better over time. We believe the best way to reduce waste is not to create it. The packaging we created is designed to keep your t-shirt clean and dry during the delivery process is all recyclable and biodegradable.
LM: How can we do as individuals ensure we are buying and looking after clothes ethically and responsibly?
Karandeep: Look out for third party accreditation on swing tags or company websites, which tell you the claims have been independently verified.
LM: What is next for CWT? Will you be producing a wider range of clothes in the future?
KM: We intend to introduce a new style or colourway every month; we don’t want to produce garments that do not sell as that’s a waste. We want to make sure we test it, perfect it and launch it.
CWT – Where and How?
For more information on CWT or shop the look, visit www.cwtstore.com.
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