Member Interview With Knock On The Door
Industry member Charlotte Bramford set up Knock on the Door in 2009 after finding a gap in the ethical fashion market. Her revolutionary concept brings emerging design talent, best practice strategies and financial stability together to create a water tight business model. The Industry takes five minutes with Charlotte to find out more.
Christine Hall in collaboration with Knock on the Door
Tell us a little bit about what your company does and how you set up your business?
Knock on the Door head hunts emerging designers, often recent graduates, and commissions them to develop a capsule collection exclusively for us. We then produce the collection using ethical fabrics and UK manufacturers; however the range is sold under the designers’ name.
When looking to set up my own business I wanted a concept that was truly original. In 2009 I became interested in ethical fashion, an area I previously had no knowledge of, and the idea from Knock on the Door grew from there.
Ethical fashion had a niche market that was growing and spreading into the mainstream. However, many of the ethical fashion brands lacked a strong or directional fashion element. Then there were talented graduates who were leaving university full of creative ideas but often without the experience or funding to develop and produce them into a commercial collection. My idea was to combine the two. Knock on the Door would source the ethical fabrics and fund the manufacture; however the graduates would have their name on the finished garments.
The aim was to create a platform for talented designers to launch their career without them incurring crippling start up costs. In turn these future stars provide a much needed injection of style and creativity into the eco clothing market.
What is it that Knock on the Door look for in the emerging designers that you work with?
We have two main routes for finding designers. First is Graduate Fashion Week, which provides a fantastic opportunity to see hundreds of designers in one place. Second is through competition briefs we issue to our large database of designers. Applicants will send in illustrations and technical drawings of their entry. We will then assess them on various criteria, including their aesthetic appeal, the cost of production and the ability to source the relevant fabrics.
What do you think the future holds for a more ethical fashion industry?
Many of the larger retailers are becoming more aware of the need to implement sustainable practices into their supply chain and I hope this will continue. Ultimately it should be something which is done as a matter of course and not something which is done for publicity. Producing locally and supporting UK manufacture is something I encourage all new designers to do. It is important both for our economy and to prevent the loss of skills our manufacturing industry is facing.
Where would you like to see Knock on the Door in five years?
As word spreads that we work with new designers we receive more and more enquires asking where to source this, who manufactures that or just questions on general issues which new designers face. It is for this reason that we are currently developing a support package aimed at designers who are setting up their own label. Working with a few select designers, as we do at the moment, is good but being able to help hundreds more with the designer support package will be even better. We see this side of the business growing rapidly over the next few years, complementing our retail side and allowing us to add many more emerging designers to our website.
What other Industry members have you worked with?
The first member of The Industry I met was Courtney Blackman through an event at the Ethical Fashion Forum. After joining The Industry, and being a regular at their events, I discovered I already knew some of the members but the events also provided me with the opportunity to make some great new contacts. Most notable is Olivia Pinnock from TellusFashion, partly because I love the work they do with emerging designers but partly because Olivia is just a lot of fun!
Get in touch with Charlotte via The Industry Directory
By The Industry's Features Editor, Harriet Bowe
Charlotte Bramford, Christine Hall, Courtney Blackman, Ethical Fashion Forum, Graduate Fashion Week, Harriet Bowe, Knock on the Door, Olivia Pinnock, TellusFashion, The Industry