Everything that is produced, processed, and consumed has an impact on the earth, whether it be sustainable, organic, or not. As makers we have more choices than most. We choose colour, shape, style and fit so we can remake our favourite styles again and again knowing that we will not wear these for just a season but year on year; less is more. This is the essence of sustainable clothing. And we can also choose sustainable fabrics.
At Merchant & Mills, we are committed to offering our customers the best choices available. We thoroughly research and verify the provenance of all our cloth. We still need to do more. We still need to learn more.
Over the past two years, we’ve moved our core fabric collections to more sustainable options and have discontinued ranges that did not meet the right criteria. We focus on natural fibres, especially linen and we have been expanding our Hemp and Tencel offerings as these two fibres score high on the eco-charts. Where possible we have moved over our cotton ranges to an organic base. The landscape with sourcing raw materials is constantly changing so we are having to react and find the best option available at the right price for our customer. We also work closely with partners around the world to offer a selection of deadstock. Deadstock fabric is excess fabric from fashion designers, movie sets, and fabric mills that is no longer needed for the job it was originally intended for. This fabric would otherwise end up in landfill.
You can find more details about our cloth on our Fabric Pages.
Merchant & Mills is a diverse group of individuals – all with a passion for sewing. Even people that have come in with no knowledge or interest in sewing have gotten hooked after team sewing classes! You can read more about our team perks on our Hiring page.
Beyond our team based in Rye, we prioritise diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business from our photography and partners around the world.
We want people to see themselves in our images. We have always chosen ‘real models’ and are proud to have such a diverse range of women and men who do such an amazing job in showcasing our designs.
Sustainable cloth and fabric is more than the fibre content or production process. We ensure that the mills we work with prioritise ethical business practices, and that their employees have a safe and positive working environment. All of the major mills and factories we use we visit on a yearly basis.
We strive to make Merchant & Mills to be as inclusive as possible, we want everyone to be able to make our patterns! We currently offer a wide range of patterns in a UK size 6—28, and all future patterns will be available in this size range. Our aim is to offer all of our patterns as PDF and paper, however we regularly review sales on paper patterns, and ‘retire’ any that are especially slow sellers. With so many patterns coming out, it’s unfortunately not sustainable financially or physically to have a printed copy of everything. If you buy a PDF pattern and don’t know how to get it printed we can recommend a pattern printer in your country.
We support a diverse range of charities throughout the year, but we donate to the following organisations on a monthly basis.
• Medicines San frontiers
• Stephen Lawrence foundation
• Rainforest alliance
Packaging, shipping, retail, wholesale and warehousing
We operate from two locations, one serving our online retail customers and the other our wholesale customers.
All retail orders get sent out with no plastic packaging in 3 ply paper mailers or cardboard boxes. We endeavour to re-use any cardboard boxes that come into us for orders. We also offer a packaging free option for our retail customers – you can choose to have all your items simply placed in a box without being pre-wrapped.
Wholesale & Warehousing
Many of our fabric suppliers are based within Europe so the fabric comes by road on pallets in a lorry. In these cases, we have requested no plastic around the rolls as it is not necessary. The rolls arrive just in paper which then gets recycled.
There is a huge issue in the textile industry that there is currently no good alternative to sending out large rolls of cloth in plastic. We currently use 50% recycled- recyclable plastic. We are very open to sharing our source of this recycled plastic blend, the more people who start to use it over 100% plastic the better! We are continually looking for better solutions for sending out cloth rolls internationally.
- All plastic that comes into us in gets re used wherever possible. We hope that people re use our plastic where they can.
- Both our couriers DHL and DPD deliveries are climate neutral, by offsetting through a range of climate protection projects that promote the economy in less developed countries and improve the lives of local people.
- Within both our locations we use Splosh soap and detergent which is an online refill service.
- Our warehouse and wholesale buildings run on renewable energy suppliers.