We feel strongly that the fashion industry should be more responsible.
There are many complex issues in today’s global fashion industry. We have decided to start small and be the change we want to see. We want to openly and honestly share information, so you understand what we do, how we do it, and why.
We may occasionally make mistakes but we will always be honest. Please remember that we are a young brand and learning as we go!
Ethics / social responsibility
Manimekala does not condone the exploitation of labour. This includes everyone from bonded workers in factories to unpaid interns in design houses.
Our clothing and accessories are labour intensive and are all made by hand by skilled professionals. Some pieces are made by the designer herself in her London studio. Others are made by local manufacturers who ensure good working conditions and specialise in high-quality, small scale production, as well as community services, such as technical fashion education and training.
Currently, all Manimekala pieces are designed, printed and made in the UK, either by Manimekala herself in her London studio, or by one of our manufacturing partners, also in London. From SS20 we will also be working with a social enterprise based in rural north India.
Each product we sell has an explanation of where the materials are from, and how and where it was made. In certain cases, it may not be possible for us to properly trace the materials (e.g. when we use donated fabric remnants), or we condense the list because it’s too long. If you would like to know more, get in touch and we will be happy to tell you.
Our packaging is all biodegradable or recyclable (or both).
We try to use only natural fibres, mostly cotton and silk. We know that even these fabrics cause ecological problems (e.g. cotton requires huge amounts of water and pesticides), and are always looking for more eco-friendly versions, such as organic or recycled. Natural materials are often more expensive than synthetics, but they last longer and age better.
We never use real leather, suede or fur. We are 100% vegetarian and hope to one day be 100% vegan.
We avoid virgin synthetic fabrics, e.g. polyester, because they are made from non-renewable fossil fuels (petrochemicals, i.e. crude oil) and shed microfibres when washed. However, we are willing to use recycled synthetic fabrics, as this reduces non-biodegradable waste.
We avoid semi-synthetic fabrics (also known as “regenerated” or “cellulose” fabrics), e.g. acetate, nylon, rayon/viscose, because although they are made from natural materials and are therefore biodegradable, their production involves heavy metals and polluting chemicals. However, some newer semi-synthetics, e.g. modal, Lyocell, are much less harmful and also use much less water than standard cotton farming.
We avoid mixed fibre fabrics (unless 100% natural fibres) because it is currently not possible to separate the different fibres for true recycling, and in a landfill, the synthetic fibres will not biodegrade. Most textile “recycling” is actually down-cycling, meaning the quality of the fibre severely degrades, and is no longer usable for fabric.
The exception to this is our Zero Waste line, where we use all types of leftover fabrics, with the aim of creating zero waste that goes to landfill. The most sustainable thing to do with existing non-biodegradable fabric scraps is to turn them into something that will be be used and loved.
To sum up: there are pros and cons for every fabric, but we hope you can understand why we choose to work with some and avoid others.
Due to the current fashion system, ethical and responsible production on a small scale is comparatively expensive. Add in the cost of materials, our own time, a profit margin and a retail markup, and the pricing quickly becomes “luxury”. We hope to reduce costs per item as Manimekala grows, but for that, we need your support.
Here is a (very basic) example of pricing one of our silk scarves:
Materials: High quality, print-grade natural fabrics are not cheap. 1m x 1m of 100% silk twill costs approx. £12.80, plus £2.80 for labels, threads.
Printing cost: digital printing silk in the UK costs approx. £15/metre so let’s say £10.70.
Manufacturing: This is a skilled job, so let’s pay them £18/hour (actually this is still low). Cutting, sewing, ironing and finishing takes 20mins per scarf so £6.00.
Packaging / shipping: scarves are light and fold small so let’s say £2.80.
Manimekala margin: this is the gross profit that we make on selling this scarf. So far, we have only covered our direct costs. We also have overhead costs like wages, this website, studio bills, e.t.c. These will be covered by this margin, plus some extra for profit. Our markup is between 1.2-1.8, depending on the product.
Retail margin: this is the gross profit that our stockists make on buying this scarf from us, and selling it on to the customer. We must honour the same retail price even if you choose to buy this scarf directly from us. This markup is typically 2.6.
VAT: per UK law, we must charge Value Added Tax of 20% for every sale.
If you choose to buy a Manimekala piece, your purchase supports the belief that every person involved in the making of this piece should be given respect and dignity, and should be fairly compensated for their time and effort in creating it.
We want Manimekala to be inclusive. We try to reflect this in our choice of models and collaborators.
It’s not currently practical for us to hold stock in plus sizes, but we are happy to make a custom size for you, at no extra cost. We consider our garments and accessories to be gender neutral, so again, if you need a custom fit, we would happy to make it for you.
We offer custom sizing for free, but material changes to a design, or a new design, will incur extra costs. Please note custom pieces are non-refundable.
Do you have an opinion on recyclable versus biodegradable mailing bags?
Or on fusible poly interlining versus cotton batting?