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Sunday, 12 June 2016

Ethical Sportswear Brand: Silverstick Review & Interview

Ethical Activewear

It's always pleasing to discover a homegrown sportswear brand standing up for their ideals. So I was excited when I came across Silverstick: based in Lewes in East Sussex, working with organic cotton and producing a bijou range of sweats, tees and accessories for ladies and gents.

ethical sportswear 

Adventure Goods

Silverstick refer to their products as adventure goods. Even a quick browse through their site will show you that they mean business: classic shapes and styles with no extraneous details give no concessions to trendy, which is admirable. 

A glimpse at their Outdoor People tab gives you an idea of their market: these tough garments are meant to be put through their paces by serious outdoor types who surf, skate, ski... and let's face it are just cool. Yes, these are ethical products, but they are made to be worn hard. 

organic and fairly traded sweater...

Product Review:

I chose an Arugan Logo Sweat in ash marl to review. I was looking for a simple jumper without a hood to throw on after yoga, for bike rides, or to keep the sometimes chilly Cornish wind at bay.  

Made from organic cotton, fairly produced and individually screen printed with eco friendly inks there is nothing to quibble about, but do these beauties stand up to the test...?

...featuring the Silverstick logo

Product Characteristics 

My first impressions were of a top quality item: feeling plush and squishy in my hands, the jumper promised to be really snuggly and it didn't disappoint! It is nice and warm without being over hot. I guess this might be partly down to the fact that it is 100% cotton- most sweats these days are polyester blend 

It is very nicely made, and the placement and scale of the print are pleasing. 

Priced at £49 this is not a budget buy, but the quality means that I would call it very good value. 

I have washed my jumper (after I wore it for a muddy bike ride- whoops!), and it feels just as new as before. This was a pleasant revelation as often sweats can deteriorate after just one wash. 

My only comment would be on the sizing: this is a unisex item, and so women are advised to go down a size. I stuck with XS, which is described as a 10-12. I usually wear an 8-10 (which would have made me an XXS here), and it is pretty snug. Personally I love the fit, but I wonder how many size 12's would find these dimensions comfortable? 

I particularly like the narrowness of the sleeves, and the length and the neckline are also great. 

lovely quality & fit

Would I buy again?

I would definitely buy from Silverstick again. The supremely lush quality means that although not budget items, their sweats seem to be well worth the money. When I need joggers I will look here first. I'd also be tempted by their t-shirts- I love the tree print, and also some of the gents styles like the bike. 

Moreover, I want to make ethical choices with my purchasing power, and smaller eco-conscious brands like this who are flying the flag for homegrown design and a short (and entirely transparent) supply chain deserve not only our respect but also our cash. It's easy to blame fast fashion for unethical practices and exploitation, but activewear is still part of the garment industry, and if we want anything to change in these businesses we have to vote with our wallets. 

I also want to wear natural fibres which, when they can be repaired/re-used/recycled no longer will eventually biodegrade back into the natural environment, and seeing as most sportswear is made from polyester this is not always easy. 

All credit to Silverstick for everything they have achieved so far. 

still messing around in crow pose...

...and working on my inversions!

Q&A with Sam from Silverstick

I was lucky enough to be able to put a few questions to Sam, co-founder of Silverstick. Enjoy this little window into the world of an independent eco-conscious brand. I particularly love the "buy once, wear often, love forever" attitude:

How long have you been running Silverstick?
The Silverstick journey started in 2010 when a love of adventure and the environment inspired us to create a collection of T-shirts for people who enjoy outdoor sports and activities. We wanted to put the outdoors and sustainability at the foundation of our design. Buy once, wear often, love forever was epitomised by our made for life ethosSince then we have expanded our mens and women's ranges, continuing to develop products with an active ethos and strong connection to nature. We call them adventure goods as they are perfect for exploring the ocean, the trail and the mountains.

That's an interesting name- where does it and your bird logo come from?
Our bird logo symbolises the freedom of the outdoors and commitment to create clothing in harmony with nature. The name Silverstick is inspired by the sports and activities our customers do in the outdoors. Stick is a general term to denote a surfboard or a skateboard. 

As a brand, what is your primary aim?
Our primary aim is to create clothing for outdoor people in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. This starts at the design phase thinking about the purpose of the garment and how we can optimise comfort, durability and style in each piece. All our garments are constructed from high quality fabrics in accredited factories that go the extra mile to get all the details right. Our customers want clothing that they can rely on and will last a long time, which is obviously better for the environment too. On top of that we only use GOTS certified organic cotton. This is cotton that has been grown naturally without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

Who is your typical shopper?
Our clothing appeals to a broad range of outdoor people, whether you are a keen mountain biker who goes riding every week or you are having a laugh trying to surf for the first time. All our customers are united by a love of adventure and the natural world.  

What's the best part of your job?
Seeing people in our clothing enjoying the outdoors and getting positive reviews from customers. We are very lucky that we are still an independent company owned by our two founders. This means we have complete control over everything we create. We make things based on a set of principles and it is great to see people out there enjoying the outdoors in clothing that doesn’t cost the earth. 

What is your favourite thing that you sell?
If I was to pick out one item it would probably be our logo tee. This was the first style we ever did, so it has an emotional pull for us. It brought together the active, high quality and eco-conscious strands of our design ethos. We sourced high quality organic cotton fabric, created an active fit, flatlocked every seam for greater comfort and hand printed the tees with our bird logo in eco friendly inks. We wanted to make the perfect T shirt for adventures in the great outdoors.

Who is your heroine?
There are many people who have inspired us on our journey so far. We are a small company up against much bigger ones. So anyone who keeps going and overcomes set backs is a particular inspiration to us. One person who is currently doing this is the surfer Bethany Hamilton who survived a shark attack and is now competing on the professional tour.

How would you like to be remembered?
That we left only footprints…

With grateful thanks to Sam at Silverstick