At brm, we care about people and planet, and aim to be as sustainable a company as we possibly can.
We believe an 'ethical' company should have policies which address a wide variety of issues. Our policies cover everything from basic recycling to fair trade/fair wage initiatives. Below you can read about all of our current eco and ethical promises.
We encourage our customers to contact us via email or social media if you have questions about any issues which are not addressed here.
We source eco-friendly, fair trade, and sustainable fabrics. These are from predominantly UK-based vendors, who work closely with artisan weavers to develop unique fabrics. Our fabrics are woven using hand- and power-looms, for a fair wage, in developing regions such as Kerala, India. Some of our vendors also work to create their own fabrics in the UK.
Every fabric that we list as Fair Trade or Organic has a corresponding Certification. We ask our suppliers to share these certifications with us, so we can verify them. These certifications come from reputable organisations such as GOTS, Soil Association or Fair Trade Foundation. Fabrics which don't hold these certifications are not listed as Organic or Fair Trade in our item descriptions. Every fabric which is described using these certifications has been verified by us, and you can email us if you want to know more about a particular fabric that we use.
Please note that the fabrics have certifications, but not the finished pieces. brm products themselves are not certified, though we are confident that they do fit the criteria. Unfortunately, the cost of obtaining these certifications makes them unavailable to us as a start-up business. In order to receive the corresponding badge, each new product must have been certified by those organisations. That's why you won't find any GOTS or FairTrade badges around the site despite us using those keywords in listings.
Our future range might include fabrics such as organic cotton, plant-based fabrics such as bamboo or tencel, recycled plastics/polyester, undyed and cruelty free wool, peace silk, or vintage, factory second or end of roll fabrics.
One of the added bonuses of using natural and organic fabrics is that they are safe for all skin types and sensitivities. They do wrinkle easily, and are a little harder to care for than modern man-made fabrics - but we think that's a small price to pay.
Unfortunately, many of our trims can not be considered ethical.
The buttons we use are mainly plastic-based. We wish to source buttons made from natural materials in future, but are struggling to find a supplier with low minimums. We decided that currently, it is better to buy small amounts of plastic buttons that we will use, then large amounts of natural buttons which may be wasted.
Where eco alternatives are not possible, we aim instead to keep our carbon footprint as low as we can. Our printed satin polyester care labels are made at a company based only a couple of towns over from the brm studio. Our polyester woven brand and size labels are made with a UK company, and we source buttons only from UK vendors.
The sewing threads that we use are also, currently, polyester. We have a lot of high quality threads in the studio which we felt should be used before we purchase new ones. All newly purchased threads are cotton or organic cotton, depending on colour availability.
We are always working to find ethical alternatives to these necessary trims.
brm pledges never to use fur or leather in our collections. We're also committed to not using plastic-based leather alternatives - we're really excited by Pinãtex and other plant-based materials, and will consider using these fabrics in future.
Collection One uses a mix of organic cotton, non-organic cotton and non-peace silk. This will be the last collection to use non-organic cotton and non-peace silk. We aim to be 100% vegan-friendly from Collection Two onwards.
Most brm clothing is available on a made-to-order basis only. We hope that this will encourage thoughtful buying, and help towards reducing the amount of textiles going to landfill. It also means fabrics bought for one style can be repurposed easily at the end of the season.
We aim to provide ready-to-ship pieces as the business grows, but we'll always stick to small scale batch production.
The zips that we use are custom made. These are high quality YKK zips, often with plastic teeth (but sometimes with metal ones). Because of the low minimums we can order only the zips that we need, meaning none go to waste.
We have also adopted a season-less approach to our collection design. Our collections are numbered rather than arranged by season. This enables us, as a small self-funded company, to produce new collections when we can - not just every 6 months.
We believe that the current season-cycle encourages waste, but also ignores that what is 'on-trend' may not be suitable for every customer. A collection should include pieces which suit customers regardless of hemisphere, climate, or personal taste.
We recycle as much as we possibly can. All incoming packaging that arrives at the studio is re-used, either for business or personal use, and all of our paper, card and suitable plastic waste is recycled, as are our unusable fabric scraps.
Larger fabric scraps are repurposed for toiling or for small details like pocket bags - adding a pinch of the unique to your item. Any large scraps that we can't use are bagged up and sent to Williby Roc's. Williby Roc's are a local company who run children's arts and crafts classes and parties. They encourage creativity in kids using reclaimed waste and natural materials, and we are delighted to support them.
Our packaging and paper goods - marketing materials, business cards, etc - are made from recyclable materials where possible. We are slowly shifting suppliers of these goods over, as our current supplies run out, in order that they are also made from recycled goods. We don't use any unnecessary plastic in our packaging materials. Our sticky address label is not recyclable or compostable, but all of the other packaging materials can be recycled and everything other than the tape can be composted.
production & fair wage
All brm clothing is made in the studio in Gateshead for a fair wage. As the business grows we will look to offer freelance work to local women, and later, we hope to move production to a UK-based factory when our orders are large enough.
brm is labelled as "womenswear" because our pieces are cut for a typically feminine figure. However, we hope to be considered an intersectional feminist company, catering for and accessible to all women and people who identify as women.
We are committed to using diverse models in all of our campaigns - across race, age, ability, sexuality and gender identity, as far as is possible in our local area. On our shoots, we always try to work with local models and talent.
brm is not registered as a company, but a self-employed sole trader, as we don't, currently, employ anyone directly. We do not agree with unpaid internships. Though we'd love to grow large enough to employ people, we will only do that when we are able to pay a living wage to all employees.
We acknowledge that our price and size range means that brm is not currently accessible to all. In the future, as our company grows, we hope to be able to offer a larger range of sizes, and a range of products that includes smaller, cheaper items.
brm is 100% Carbon Neutral Certified. This means means that we have met the standards set by BLUEdot Register's Certified Carbon Neutral program.
BLUEdot worked with us to calculate the carbon footprint of all of our products throughout their entire lifecycle. This included everything from raw material sourcing, through harvesting, manufacturing, product assembly, finishing, and transportation, plus the processes (like washing and drying) that our garments will go through in their lifecycles. The calculation also included our day-to-day business operations.
BLUEdot used this information to calculate our Carbon Footprint, and now some of our profits go towards supporting BLUEdot approved programmes which offset those carbon emissions. These include schemes such as helping to fund wind farms and planting new trees. They check in with us every few months to see how many new pieces we've made and adjust our contributions accordingly.
You can read more about those programmes and brm's footprint at our dedicated BLUEdot site by clicking on the image below.