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Claire Farrell: ‘There’s no reason for Primark to ever go on the cover of a magazine’

Grace Philip

22nd May, 2012

The duo behind eco label Goodone, Nin Castle and Claire Farrell, aren’t afraid of taking on new challenges. Next up: showing the big boys that green is good and persuading the press to say goodbye to Primark and co

Nin Castle is busy. Disillusionment with the fashion industry, and a crusade against waste has given her a lot to do. But she is not alone – her business partner, Claire Farrell, is at hand. Sitting in Goodone’s North London studio, their passion for fashion is infectious, while their ethical approach is as evident as their honeycomb leggings are flattering. For Castle and Farrell, fashion is about more than keeping up with trends – it’s about making an impact, and a positive one at that.

Along with From Somewhere, Castle and Farrell’s label, Goodone, was among the first to turn offcuts and textile waste into high-end, original and wearable design. The statement pieces are created from material that already exists, saving money, energy and water in the process. ‘It’s already been dyed, washed, finished, fabric tested,’ says Farrell. ‘Everything has already been done on it and then it just sits there gathering dust. I just think it is totally ready to go on someone’s back.’

But taking used materials and turning them in to high-end designs isn’t as easy as they make it look. ‘The problem we have is our fabric resources are un-standardised,’ explains Castle. ‘Buyers will be okay if it is a slight variation of grey but if it goes from a really blue-grey to a really dark grey – that is for them two different products. It has got to be really standardised.’ Not that standardisation and limited materials have stopped the duo from producing some spectacular stuff, or from taking aim at seasonal trends – their £199 silk bomber jacket nails this season’s sports couture theme. And you would never guess it was made out last year’s festival tents. ‘Over the years we have had to train ourselves to be very much design led,’ says Castle, ‘while having an understanding of what we’ve got as well. We try and get the two to meet in the middle and we’re quite good now at going “this is what we have got, so what can we get out of it?”

So far, what Castle and Farrell are getting out of it is considerable. In the brand’s six short years of existence, Goodone has gone global, been showcased at London Fashion Week and joined forces with mega brands such as Topshop and Tesco to take the eco message to the high street. With that in mind, you’d be forgiven for assuming that the pace would be slowing for the duo behind the label, but as Castle says, there’s still plenty more to do. ‘It feels like it [recycling] is so far behind where it should be,’ she laments. ‘We are in just quite an interesting place at the moment with the business.’ Although still designing, Castle and Farrell are heading in new directions. Not content with creating a functional fashion label, the pair has decided to take their experience to the big brands, showing them that recycled fabrics are a viable resource for them too. While working as a consultancy, Castle and Farrell are also handing companies opportunities and placing them firmly in their laps. They have set up a facility that specialises in mass-producing recycled clothing and are calling it – aptly – One Good Factory. The concept behind it is that brands use One Good Factory to build up their own internal production systems, and then take the recycling processes in to their own facilities. Currently they are producing a project for From Somewhere and trialling a run for Scottish eco design talent, Christopher Raeburn. ‘Basically everybody,’ is all Castle is prepared to say when asked who else they have lined up.

With so much going, do the duo think that their work will ever be done? ‘No,’ replies Castle, ‘it’s always a work in progress.’ Once they’ve got the fashion heavy hitters on board, the next step is to take on the press. For them, fashion journalists have a lot to think about. ‘Even if you [the fashion press] are just getting a basic understanding of the companies that you are promoting, even if you don’t understand the product, I think it is well within any journalist’s capability to look into a company that they are going to promote, and try and understand what they are about and what they are like,’ argues Farrell. ‘And for that reason, there is absolutely no need for anybody to ever shoot a piece of Primark’s clothing and put it on the front page of any magazine.’

With Goodone, Farrell and Castle are tackling the issues surrounding sustainable fashion. With One Good Factory, they are challenging other brands to do the same. Both are born problem solvers. But not everyone in the fashion industry is, while the high street in particular still has a long way to go. In the meantime, Castle has a suggestion for strapped-for-cash, eco-minded people. ‘Buy vintage and then save up for something that you want to buy from a label that you really like.’ And if you’re bored, you, like Farrell and Castle, can turn old bits of vintage into something special with a little help from your sewing machine. 

For more information, see www.goodone.co.uk

 

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