Most of our streetwear is made by our long-term partners in EU. In the following interview, you will learn more about Horsefeathers streetwear production, what it is packaged into and what all these pieces go through before they reach the shop counters or e-shops. The questions will be answered by the main designer, Pepe Šetele, who is in charge of the concept, design and development of the collections at Horsefeathers.
Hi Pepe, what exactly the term "streetwear" include?
Under this summary term we include basically everything except snowboard jackets, pants and snowboard accessories. This means that these are all products from street jackets to socks and underwear. But most of the streetwear consists of sweatshirts, T-shirts, women's dresses and tank tops.
Could you describe the process of creating for example a sweatshirt, from its design to its final placement in the store/on e-shop?
At the very beginning there is the concept or brief. With colleagues from the sales department and marketing, we brainstorm about what we would like to have in the collection, what should be represented there, what the particular product should look like and how much it should cost. Based on this brief, several graphic designs will begin to emerge. These are then re-evaluated until a final concept is created, on which we all agree. Then we begin to pattern it. Patterning is actually the creation of prototypes. Several prototypes will be created until the final one is reached, which is fine-tuned both in fitting and with all the details that the final product should have. The sample is then presented to our clients, who then order a sufficient number of pieces for their online or classic shops. We collect their orders and send it to production. The production then takes into account all the comments that were noted on the previous sample. Then the sweatshirt can be produced and delivered to our customers in stores.
Where is Horsefeathers streetwear made?
We produce most of the streetwear collection in Europe, but more technically demanding functional products, such as jackets, are made in Asia. We produce many things here, in the Czech Republic. It's great that there is still local textile production. If we can, we are always happy to support it.
Why is most of the Horsefeathers streetwear collection made in the EU?
Because firstly, there are still plenty of manufacturers who are able to produce these products, and secondly, it is much easier and flexible for us. We are in the same time zone as well and this is a practical advantage over production in Asia. And what is very important to us is, that it also brings with it a significant reduction in the environmental footprint, as we do not have to send parcels across half the world and thus reduce our carbon footprint. We actually have everything around the corner, so for example we can meet the belt manufacturer within an hour, which is located a few kilometers from our headquarters in Pilsen. It is then easier to solve any problem directly in the manufacturer's work place and thus speed up the entire patterning.
Regarding streetwear factories, do you go there as a lead designer, in person?
Yes, this is normally the standard. Before the lockdown we visited all the factories, including the Asian ones, at least twice a year. Although long-distance cooperation works, communication can be transferred to the online space, but this personal meeting always has a huge advantage. Not only in the sense that it is easier to solve some technical production problems, but also the cooperation with the manufacturer is strengthened. And for us creatives, it also has huge potential in the sense that we come to the factory, we see lots of new technologies, lots of new processes and details that can be adapted to our products. With technologists, we can come up with best practices on the spot to to fine-tune our products. It's great to have a person there, with whom we immediately take over the technical details on the jacket or sweatshirt, and whom can immediately comment on whether it will be possible to make it and so on. So for product development it is a huge plus to be able to look into the factory in person. And it is a pity that it is not possible now.
Do you have good relationships with with manufacturers and suppliers?
We have excellent relationships with most of our suppliers, which in several cases have grown into friendships. So we visit each other even outside of work and that is a huge benefit that we have here at Horsefeathers. We have been cooperating with some suppliers for decades. Those meetings are then taken on a completely different level and it is really very pleasant to work on a common project with people with whom you can have a nice conversation outside of work as well.
What's Horsefeathers streetwear packed in?
To protect the products, we pack them into plastic bags. Some time ago, we focused on these packaging in detail, because after each collection, we see the huge amount of plastic that is used only for packaging and basically has no other use. Few then use the packaging for anything else. So we tried to find some clever solution to minimize the volume of plastic packaging, and thus the impact on the environment. And we came up with some various ideas:
- Packaging size - reducing packaging by packing things so that they are more storable and packaging is as small as possible so that there is less waste from it.
- Recycled packaging from LDPE waste - use of recycled waste from the production of LDPE packaging (low density polyethylene).
- Bio-degradable P-life packaging - We pack the winter collection in packaging with the added patented P-life additive, which enables full compostability of the plastic packaging in the absence of air. This is basically the classic fate of unsorted waste: the garbage truck will take it to a landfill, where it will then be putted under ground, filled with soil, thus preventing the access of air. The packaging with the P-life additive filled in this way decomposes within tens of weeks, compared to conventional packaging, which takes a long decade.
(You can find out more about P-life packaging here https://www.horsefeathers.eu/article/108/p-life/ )
Let's get back to that LDPE waste. Is it actually a plastic waste, from which other packaging is made by recycling, which you then use to pack streetwear?
Yes, it is more-less like that. After conventional production, the manufacturer of plastic packaging has a relatively high amount of waste from how the individual packaging is cut. These are residues, cuttings and conventional waste that is sorted from this Low density polyethylene (LDPE). All this is thrown into one pile, it is melted again and from this waste a new recycled polyethylene (plastic) is formed, from which we then make packaging.
Is there a room in the production/packaging /transport of HF streetwear for the future to be even more sustainable?
I think there is always space. It depends a lot on technologies, such as the already mentioned P-life or the use of LDPE waste. These are things that have been appearing more and more in recent years, and we are working quite intensively with manufacturers and looking for ways to improve it further and thus reduce our impact on the environment. In any case, packaging is only a small part of the whole cycle of clothing. In this sense, as the most effective and efficient way to be sensitive to the environment, is to increase the life of the clothes to last as many seasons as possible. Then it would not have to be immediately thrown away and replaced with more and more pieces of clothing. This means investing in quality and materials that have sufficient durability. There are many posibilities, it can't be accelerated by a jump, but it goes hand in hand with technological progress.
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