Adults or children, these hand printed sustainable clothing pieces are for everybody. The designs are timeless, handmade with vegan inks that last for long. LOST SHAPES is thoughtful, creative design, with an honest upbringing of wholesome crafts, having a good time in the party world of fashion.
We had the chance to talk to Anna, the creative mind behind Lost Shapes, where she explains how the process looks like and also how she manages to keep the waste to the minimum. If you share the same ethics and get the Lost Shapes style, get in touch with her and collaborate!
We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!
What does your brand stand for in the world of slow fashion?
Original designs on easy to wear clothing, built on the belief that we should never be exploiting other people or the environment simply to have nice clothes.
Why did you decide to start the business on ethical fashion related to printing?
In 2012 I had to move for my husband’s job and decided this was the opportunity to go back to being more creative (I have a degree in 3D design crafts, but had been working in youth and community work). I loved screen printing, and really like the democratic nature of printing on t-shirts rather than as an art piece, so started doing this for friends and family at first, then customers. I wasn’t specifically planning to start an ethical business, but there was no way I would want to build a business that was based on cheap unsafe labour or toxic chemicals.
On what type of fashion do you do the printings?
I call it Uniform For Living – comfortable, good quality t-shirts, sweatshirts etc for weekends, festivals, holidays, fun nights in…
What sort of clients do you have and how do they appreciate your products?
Some come to me because of the ethical aspect – they really care who made their clothes and that they are sustainable. Many just really like the designs – the optimism and gentle humour, and the retro style that comes from my hand cut and hand printed methods. Because I make clothes for adults and children I often see whole families kitted out in Lost Shapes, but they’re also popular with ethically aware students.
How does the process of creation look like?
I’m lucky to do everything myself so can respond to inspiration when I want. I often have rushes of lots of ideas, doodle them in a sketchbook, then come back to them later to see what I still like. I then develop it into a more finished design and assess whether I think it’s good enough to produce. If it is, I decide what garments and colours it would work on, and finalise the design into something that would work as a stencil. Unusually for a screen printer selling commercially, I work with stencils that I cut out by hand with a craft knife, which is what gives the paper-cut style. I then screen print each garment by hand, before drying and fixing the inks so they endure.
What tools or and techniques do you use?
It’s all printed with wooden framed screens and squeegees.
What type of inks do you use and how sustainable are these?
The ink I use does not contain CFC’s, HCFC’s, aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile solvents, lead, heavy metals or any toxic chemicals whatsoever, and is suitable for vegans. It’s great because it’s water-based so can be washed from equipment without solvents, and has a soft feel on the clothes, but once heat fixed it’s very durable and lasts many many washes.
How sustainable is the clothing you use to do your artwork?
Everything I print on is either organic cotton, Tencel lyocell, or recycled fibre. I’m increasingly trying to move away from garments containing any polyester at all, now I’m aware of micro-fibres, and where possible using fair trade cotton.
And the packaging?
I make every effort to keep packaging minimal, recyclable and recycled. Tags are made from recycled card and compostable twine; garments are wrapped in a simple recycled card belly band; brown paper envelopes or sacks are used for postage.
How do you treat the waste in your workshop?
There isn’t much: excess ink is scraped off and re-used; old newspapers get used until crinkled then recycled; test prints are done on old stained or broken t-shirts that I collect from family and friends, and re-used many times before eventually becoming rags.
What makes your art and creations different from others?
The method of printing with hand cut stencils adds an original style, and just the fact that I am approaching this as a designer, not simply an ethical campaigner with a message. I try to get the balance of fashionable cuts and garments, but avoiding jumping on trends, which will become copied by fast fashion brands then become obsolete quickly – some of my best sellers are still designs I produced right at the beginning, as they’re timeless.
Do you work under fair trade standards? Any certification you may have earned?
Because I’m not sourcing directly I don’t get the certification, but I make sure that the wholesalers I source from have GOTs organic accreditation, are Fair Wear approved for factory conditions, and where possible are using Fairtrade certified cotton.
Do you give back to any organisation?
A couple of my designs specifically give a donation to charity for each purchase. Beyond that, I personally give 10% of my earnings to charity each month – something I am committed to, but feel uncomfortable using as a marketing point, as that’s not why I give.
Would you be open to doing collaborations with other like-minded brands that appreciate your artwork on their clothing? Is there any specific type of clothing aside from t-shirts and jumpers you’d be keen on working with, let’s say accessories, trousers…?
I love collaborating with brands who share the same ethics and ‘get’ the Lost Shapes style. It was great designing for an indie coffee brand last year, and working with ethical blogger Tolly Dolly Posh recently. For Lost Shapes itself, I’m sticking with the t-shirts and jumpers after wandering down some others directions in the past, but it would be really fun to work on designs for brands that create other things – trousers, yes… trainers would be very cool!
What do events such as Fashion Revolution mean to a social creative entrepreneur like you?
I think Fashion Revolution is a fantastic campaign. It opens people’s eyes to the bigger picture of who made their clothes, which helps them understand why ethics are so important to companies like Lost Shapes. It’s really successful in giving an easy entry to campaigning for people just starting to understand that cheap fashion has a cost, but there’s some heavyweight research going on with their transparency index too.
You are based in the UK, how does a social entrepreneurial venture look like there? Do you feel there’s a change happening in the country?
It feels like loads is going on, but I’m aware that some of that feeling comes from the social media bubble of connecting with other like-minded people. I think we’ve moved on in our understanding from the very low point when clothes had got cheaper and cheaper without anyone stopping to think how, but I feel there are still big sections of our society who think this is just a niche left-wing issue that doesn’t concern them. I’m encouraged that mainstream fashion brands are responding to pressure to be more transparent, and by the sudden way people and politicians have grasped the dangers of plastic packaging, and in my optimistic moments, I feel like the tide is starting to change towards more thoughtful consumption.
What has been the greatest success of the brand so far?
Two of the Lost Shapes t-shirts from the Optimist range were requested for a big exhibition in London Fashion and Textile museum entitled: T-shirt: Cult – Culture – Subversion, ‘explaining the definitive history of t-shirts’, and showcasing my designs next to Vivienne Westwood and other well-known designers. It was a real endorsement of the originality of the designs, and encouraging that one was accompanied by a prompt to consider the sustainable aspects of fashion.
Is there any advice you’d like to give to other businesses trying to make a difference for good?
- It’s not enough to just have a worthy idea – you need to create something that people really want to buy too – especially if your target market is ethical consumers, as they’re not impulsive buyers!
- Unless you are deliberately giving your time for free for the venture, and have another income, make sure you factor in paying yourself, otherwise, it’s not truly sustainable.
If you could write a message on a big wall that the entire world could read, what would it say?
Love One Another
Finally, where can we find you? Shops, online, worldwide…?
I sell through a few online marketplaces, and some real markets too, but the best place to find everything I do is www.lostshapes.com , which ships internationally.
Is there any other similar brand you know or are curious about? Comment below, and we will make it happen!