According to Christina Dean of ReDress, 10-20% of all textiles in the fashion industry are discarded as waste. The guys at Offcut Caps seized an opportunity in all that waste, and began making 5-panel caps here in New Zealand from discarded offcuts sitting on workroom floors around the world. These scraps would have otherwise joined millions of tonnes of fabric currently going into landfill each year, releasing toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases.
Their caps are not only kind to the planet, they are cool as heck and easy on the wallet (they start at $69 NZD, not bad for limited run, handmade locally) . Did we mention they plant a tree for every cap sold?
We chatted to Offcuts co-founder Adrien Taylor about their creation and the “why” behind this innovative brand.
I always like a ‘best mates’ story behind a business, how did you guys meet?
Matt and I used to work together at a cafe called Joe's Garage in Christchurch. I walked in and asked him for a job and a few days later I was in the kitchen washing dishes. Matt was my boss but we quickly became best mates: working all day and surfing all evening together after work. We get on well during and outside of work which is pretty crucial for a good business and friend relationship.
You guys have created something very cool here, Why hats? Why take environmental factors into consideration?
Thanks! The idea for caps came to me because to use offcut fabrics, we needed a piece of clothing that requires small pieces of fabric. Everything I do takes environmental factors into consideration, so this is no different. Every business should be taking their environmental impact into consideration with absolutely everything they do, and consumers should be demanding that of all businesses. It's not acceptable in the 21st century - with climate change and the enormous damage our race is doing to the planet - to not make business as environmentally sustainable as it is economically sustainable. We want Offcut to be proof that a business can and should be both.
Do you come up against challenges that you wouldn’t face if using fast-fashion production techniques?
Manufacturing in New Zealand is expensive. There's no doubt we could get the caps made for a quarter of the current cost in China, but for the moment we're staying put in New Zealand. It gives us greater oversight into the quality and manufacturing working conditions of each and every individual cap, which is super important to us. I'm not ruling out that we'll ever go to Asia for production because if we continue to scale this would make the most environmental sense, since it's there that the vast majority of the world's fabric lives. Quality is at the forefront of everything we do. We want our caps to last decades, not the months other garment brands aim for.
Are you sourcing your fabrics here in NZ or do they come from all over? Can you talk us through the process for finding your killer fabrics? (Without giving away your trade secrets obviously!)
We mainly source our fabrics in New Zealand and Australia, but have also received some from the USA, Sri Lanka, and China. Sourcing the fabrics is a combination of me actively contacting brands we'd love to work with and brands contacting us. Once we've made contact, it's generally a pretty simple case of them sending us in some offcut or end-of-line fabric for us to work our magic with.
Do you have a sense of how much your customers are responding to the environmental story behind your product as opposed to just loving the designs?
It's a real mix. We want to be known first and foremost for making the world's greatest caps, and with the added benefit that they're great for the environment. We don't want people to buy the caps just because they're not damaging the planet; the designs have to stand on their own two feet. But what initially draws our fans in is a mix of both things: the killer designs, and our environmental credentials.
Can you tell us a little more about your partnership with Trees For Future?
From the moment we founded Offcut, I wanted to not only take something bad away from the planet - fabric waste - but also give something back. I was inspired by TOMS' great one-for-one business model but instead of choosing to give caps to people less fortunate than myself, I thought we'd plant trees. The planet needs more trees to absorb our carbon emissions and help us have a decent crack at preventing catastrophic climate change. I contacted Trees for the Future after reading about them and it quickly became apparent that our values were closely aligned. They do fantastic work planting fruit trees for Sub-Saharan African farmers so not only do the trees absorb carbon, but they also help feed businesses and create business opportunities. How cool is that!
MOM JEANS BECAME A THING, I HEAR DAD CAPS ARE GAINING TRACTION - ANY PLANS TO PRODUCE A LINE? :)
Hah, maybe =)
What’s next for OffCuts? Any plans to expand beyond hats? Global domination?
There are actually quite a few things we can apply the Offcut model to... you'll have to watch this space ; )
You can check out their their current range at offcutcaps.com.