CHARLOTTE INSTONE - know the origin

CHARLOTTE INSTONE - know the origin


Having the courage to speak up and question the way things are done is something Charlotte Instone founder of Know The Origin completely understands.

Whilst studying Buying and Merchandising at London College of Fashion Charlotte was so moved by the Rana Plaza collapse (the deadliest garment factory accident in history) that she not only questioned the way the fashion industry works, but also questioned her own perception and beliefs. 

Feeling a huge disconnect between garments and the people making them Charlotte decided to find out for herself how Rana Plaza affected the survivors and the fashion industry. After visiting more than 150 factories (including Jordan, Burkina Faso, Bangladesh and India) Charlotte has devised a system by which she is confident the factories Know The Origin work with meet her high standards.

We have really robbed ourselves of the value of that connection and we don’t value our clothes because we don’t know how they’ve been made or the amount of work that’s been involved.
— Charlotte Instone, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 12
Charlotte Instone, founder Know The Origin, Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Brand

Often what is not audited or certified is as equally or perhaps more important that what is reported and given a rating. Are people happy is more than a question of pay. Feeling valued, having the opportunity and right support to fulfil our potential both in and out of work is something we can all identify with. Fashion is an amazing medium for creativity, self expression and social change. Yet we often focus on the visual imagery and branding associated with fashion rather than the impact it can have beneath the surface level. 

Determined to make a difference to the people making garments Charlotte founded Know The Origin and Certified by Know The Origin (a sister company that wholesales customisable screen printed garments) enabling customers to buy radically ethical and sustainable garments at an accessible price. Garments retail between £22 and £54 due to the fact that Know The Origin takes the hit on margins and sells direct to the consumer. Often ethical and sustainable clothing is seen as unattainable, for those who can afford to pay more, not with Know The Origin. 

No wonder Know The Origin have been awarded Ethical Consumer Top rated brand ahead of the likes of People Tree which is a huge achievement, especially considering Know The Origin only opened for business on 23rd November 2016.

Charlotte (who has just turned 24, I'm hoping Forbes 30 Under 30) has a busy year ahead speaking at events such as Yonder Collective’s 'Cultivating Courageousness’ and holding a series of retail pop-ups where people can exchange ideas and learn from guest speakers. Plus the big news is today Charlotte launches her crowdfunding campaign to raise £10,000 for Know The Origin Marketplace which will bring over 60 UK and overseas brands online under one platform.

In this podcast I speak to Charlotte about; why she felt compelled to start Know The Origin, what it means to the business that they have been awarded Ethical Consumer Magazine Top rated brand, and about her exciting plans for Know The Origin Transparent Marketplace.

Listen to podcast above, on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher

I was horrified that it wasn’t something I’d thought about before. My degree was looking at the processes behind ordering clothes working with factories and how you maximise the profit. It just hadn’t crossed my mind, there was a huge disconnect there. So I spent the next year and a half just learning as much as I could about where our clothes were made and how they were made.
— Charlotte Instone, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 12
Seeing that they were building garment factories just outside the (Zaatari, Jordan) refugee camp purely because they could get the most vulnerable people with no documentation that were desperate. The fact that somebody in a boardroom somewhere has made that decision, thinking hey where can we get cheap labour...(is disgraceful). You look at why brands produce in Bangladesh and Cambodia and a lot of these developing countries and it’s not because they’re doing it out of the good of their heart, it’s because they are some of the most unregulated countries in terms of the laws around wages and they can get away with the most.
— Charlotte Instone, Black Neon Digital Podcast Episode 12

Support Know The Origin Crowdfunder campaign (pledge by 12:00pm 11th April 2018) and keep an eye on Know The Origin Instagram for details of their pop-ups in London, Bristol, Manchester and Brighton this year. 

portrait photos of charlotte instone taken by bec o'conner for black neon digital 

all other imagery courtesy of know the origin

podcast recorded at jodi muter-hamilton's home in south london

The 2013 Savar building collapse or Rana Plaza collapse was a structural failure that occurred on 24 April 2013 in the Savar Upazila of Dhaka District, Bangladesh, where a five-story commercial building named Rana Plaza collapsed. The search for the dead ended on 13 May 2013 with a death toll of 1,134. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. It is considered the deadliest garment factory accident in history, as well as the deadliest accidental structural failure in modern human history.

Zaatari is a refugee camp in Jordan, located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of Mafraq, which is gradually evolving into a permanent settlement. It was first opened on 28 July 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian Civil War that erupted in March 2011. On 26 March 2015, the camp population was estimated at 83,000 refugees.

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