Meet the Couple Behind Leeds’ Latest Sustainable Fashion Store
Jo Wanner and her partner James Fenwick wanted a space in Leeds where people could shop for sustainable clothing at ease so they set up their own store, Tråd Collective in Headingley, putting sustainability at the forefront of everything they do
Making and growing new fibres for clothes uses a huge amount of fossil fuel, and around eight to 10 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions come from the fashion industry alone. However at Tråd Collective, the aim is to be part of the solution rather than adding to the worldwide problem.
‘We’ve been open since September last year and we kind of came up with the idea in lockdown after my partner and I started to realise there was a gap in the market for sustainable clothing. We had also made a New Year’s resolution to only shop sustainably, and found that it was really difficult to do that in Leeds, so we thought why don’t we start building something that is good for the environment and actually make it easy for people to be more sustainable?,’ Jo explains.
Over the last few years people have started to notice the impact the fast-fashion industry is having on the environment and are moving towards sustainable alternatives, and Tråd Collective is helping people to do this. ‘We have a combination of pre-loved and new sustainably made clothes, so I think we’ve got a pretty good thing going in terms of sustainability and it’s all in the same place – there will be something for everyone here,’ Jo says. Prior to opening the store, Jo launched her own sustainable fashion brand, Wanner Label, which has been widely recognised for offering garments which have been made from upcycled, second-hand sourced materials, and this means the production for making new materials is cut out completely.
Jo’s Wanner Label collection is stocked within the new store, alongside other sustainable clothing brands. ‘We try to stock mainly local brands. We do have a few others which are London-based, but we try to focus on Yorkshire and keep things as local as possible,’ she tells us.
There are three key pillars Jo and James stick to at Tråd Collective – reuse, recycle and reduce. The reuse pillar covers stocking a large selection of high-quality, curated pre-loved clothes, whilst the range of sustainable brands stocked which have used recycled materials within their production incorporates the recycle element. The third pillar, reduce, comes from the alteration and mending service which Jo and James offer. ‘People can bring in anything they need altering, so things like hems or waists that need taking in or out. We do occasionally get some special requests like when someone wants to upcycle something which is broken and they want to give it a new life rather than throwing it away. I believe a lot of people think sustainable fashion is too expensive and they don’t really want to spend the money on it, but they don’t mind having something altered that they already own and love. Our altering service means those people might be making more sustainable choices that way rather than purchasing something which has been sustainably made,’ Jo adds.
‘We had made a New Year’s resolution to only shop sustainably, and found that it was really difficult to do that in Leeds, so we thought why don’t we start building something that is good for the environment and actually make it easy for people to be more sustainable’
At the moment, the fast-fashion industry is still creating more than 92 million tonnes of waste every year and although Jo has noticed more people taking an interest in sustainable fashion and paying more attention to where garments come from, or how they are made, she admits there is still a long way to go. ‘I think people are definitely becoming more aware of sustainability, but I don’t necessarily think people are making the right choices towards being sustainable just yet – instead they just realise there is a choice to be made. I therefore want people to come into Tråd Collective because they like our clothes and then realise that everything is sustainable,’ she says.
Jo felt strongly about not only starting a sustainable business, but also about having some of her Swedish heritage shine through. She explains that Tråd, meaning thread in Swedish, became the name of the store because their thread binds together the complete, sustainable concept through stocking sustainable brands, creating new pieces from second-hand fabrics and upcycling pre-loved clothes. ‘It’s always a challenge when you’re trying to make something niche – we can’t just source whatever we like, we have to think about which products are actually sustainable and within the values that we hold as a brand. It takes a lot more research and it’s time consuming,’ Jo says. ‘You can’t change everything all at once either, and I think if people can find one thing to focus on and start small they won’t get overwhelmed and give up. If you want to consume a bit less then look at your clothes and see what you can change from what is already in your wardrobe, make small changes to start with, and then you can grow from there.’