Who is Will James?
Will James is a 4 y.o. boy who loves to scribble and draw… all the time… on all the paper he can get his hands on… and even on cleaned and dry icy pole sticks. He is constantly drawing pictures for all his friends at pre-school to give as gifts (much to the delight of their parents I’m sure 😅 Sorry parents!).
Apart from doodling, he loves jigsaw puzzles, swimming, eating ice-cream and other sweet treats! He enjoys being silly and cheeky to make others laugh.
Who is Will James’ mummy?
With a background in fashion, seeing these colourful scribbles and cute characters strewn around the house and stuck up all over the walls, Will’s mummy always visualised the drawings as prints on fabrics. As Will’s pictures got more intricate, it was only a matter of time before this idea would become a reality.
The brand, I am Will James, is a collaboration between Will James and his mummy, and showcases a time when things are simple, happy, and fun.
Join the slow fashion movement…
I am Will James does not mass produce its product. In fact, quite the opposite – The product is only printed when we receive an order for it. This policy is driven by one of our key commitments to balancing creativity and sustainability; championing the art whilst minimising waste and harm.
This means delivery is not as fast as you might be accustomed to because there is a longer process in place before the product reaches you. However, we hope that you will consider the product more special this way, and love the end product print design and product quality.
Why on-demand / made-to-order?
We think it’s important that the fashion industry changes the way it currently operates. At the moment, the fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000. In turn, people are buying more clothing and throwing items out sooner.
Products made in large quantities are certainly cheaper per unit, but the costs are not monetary – fashion is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions and textile dyeing is the world’s second-largest polluter of water. Overproduction is resulting in around 92 million tons (85%) of all textiles produced by the fashion industry ending up in landfills each year – The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes burned or dumped in landfill every second. (Sources: Business Insider and BBC)
We are constantly striving toward more sustainable and responsible fashion production. On-demand or made-to-order products tackle the overproduction waste / excess problem by only producing product when a customer buys them. Not only is it a more sustainable option, you won’t be settling for mass-produced apparel that every shopping centre is selling and every second person will end up wearing. You will also never see our product on a sales rack at half the price you bought it for!
“We need to slow down, take a little time to reconnect with our clothes and appreciate them again,” says Clare Press, Australian Vogue’s sustainability editor-at-large and author of the book Wardrobe Crisis. “Remember that whatever you are wearing, it took both physical and creative resources to make it.”
We want to give our customers reliable, quality products that are also as kind to the planet as possible.
Our youth t-shirt supplier Bella + Canvas, is a clothing manufacturer with care for the environment embedded in their brand identity. Bella + Canvas uses solar energy, limits water use, and recycles waste by-products.
Adult t-shirt supplier Stanley/Stella are GOTS, GRS, OCS, Oeko-Tex certified and PETA approved vegan. These certifications are a good indication of companies working towards building healthy environmental practices and greater respect for the planet, every step of the way. They have been attributed ‘Leader’ status by Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), for showing best practices in complex areas such as freedom of association and ensuring the safety of all workers. They have also started collecting their offcuts of organic
fabrics with the aim of creating recycled yarn in the production of their accessories range.
Our suppliers are also working on optimizing cut & sew production to reduce the leftover fabric scraps.
Each product is thoroughly durability, wash, and wear tested to ensure high quality and lasting performance.
A (long) word about fabrics
We will be constantly striving to do less harm with our fabric choices. It is a complex and evolving space with water consumption, water pollution, land usage, land degradation, toxic chemicals, carbon footprint, microfibres and more to be weighed up and taken into consideration.
Why not organic all the way? Whilst it may seem like the outright obvious choice, to assume that organic equates to sustainable is over-simplifying the situation. It’s certainly not without its drawbacks if everyone were to wear it. We love the fact that dangerous and toxic insecticides and chemicals aren’t used and this is so much better for the health of the people, flora, fauna and land surrounding the farm. However, lower crop yields mean comparably more land and resources being used to achieve the same volumes. Organic cotton for one is still incredibly water intensive because that is the nature of the plant.
A cotton garment is more energy intensive than polyester during its life span, due to its differing properties in stain-resistance, tendency to wrinkle and shrink, and ability to keep garment shape. This results in cotton being washed more often at higher temperatures, ironed more at higher temperatures, and ultimately getting thrown out sooner. A recent study released June 2020 by Peter Ryan at the University of Cape Town in South Africa found 50% of microfibres drawn from several oceans were cotton, making up the majority of the 80% of microfibres that were plant-based (remaining 8% synthetic, 12% animal-based), suggesting they may not biodegrade as quickly as previously thought, and/or shed more microfibres into the ocean, with the health risks to marine life unknown.
Polyester requires less water but is much more energy intensive to make, and is dependent on petroleum to produce. Producing virgin polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton, and does not break down readily in the ocean.
There are other fabric options which are more sustainable, such as recycled cotton, recycled polyester, organic hemp etc but we have not found them readily accessible for creating on-demand product yet. We hope to be able to source these responsibly and evolve our garment offering as it becomes possible. Watch this space!
What’s the answer? The truth is there are no 100% eco-friendly fabrics, only more sustainable / less damaging fabrics and practices. There is nothing sustainable about mass producing anything. Even Piñatex mentioned in many green blogs uses pineapple leaves, PLA and petroleum-based resin – pineapple leaves can only be a by-product of the food industry until demand exceeds supply, PLA is only compostable in industrial facilities and currently contaminates already abysmal plastic recycling efforts, and would not completely solve the petroleum dependency.
The biggest change we can make to reduce our environmental impact is to slow down, buy less, throw out less, and wear clothes for longer. Opt for quality over quantity. Extending an item’s wear by nine months reduces carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% per garment, according to the Waste Resources Action Programme.
A study by Cambridge University found that the negative environmental impact of a cotton t-shirt can be cut by 50% simply by altering washing, drying and ironing. Wash at 30° C, don’t tumble dry and limit ironing. Washing your clothes with cold water on a quick cycle uses half the energy of washing warm. By doing one cold load per week for a year, you can save the carbon equivalent of driving 123km.
Printing process with a difference
The printing method we use is DTG (direct-to-garment), a more sustainable choice over other apparel printing methods, like screen printing. Traditional screen printing involves quite a lengthy setup process which involves plastic films, an array of chemicals, a lot of water and typically plastisol inks that don’t biodegrade. It’s also tended towards bulk orders which can lead to overproduction.
In comparison, DTG printing is suited to one-off production and detailed designs – it can be likened to a digital inkjet printer, except that it prints to fabric. Kornit and/or Brother printers are used for all our printed garments. Kornit printers produce almost zero wastewater and use less energy, lowering our carbon footprint. With regards to inks, genuine Brother GT-3 water-based pigment inks and/or Kornit NeoPigment inks are used. GT-3 inks are CPSIA compliant and Oeko-Tex® certified, which means they are safe to print on youth/children’s clothing and reduce environmental waste. Kornit’s NeoPigment inks are biodegradable, vegan, water-based, toxin-free and non-hazardous.
Typically, companies will bulk order their product and packaging from various sources and get it delivered to a central location where it gets stored until it is purchased and sent out again. We’re doing things a bit different in this area too. To reduce the waiting time for your made-to-order garment, double handling, and carbon emissions of transporting the product, your product is created in the closest region of operation to you, then packed and sent directly to you. Even so, please expect the product to take around 21 days to be delivered to you.
End of Life Options
We want to take responsibility for the products we produce and extend their use for as long as possible. If you are not able to hand them on, repair or repurpose our products, we give you the option of “end of life” returns and we’ll do it! Depending on the condition of your return, we will either resell it as pre-loved clothing, or repurpose them into new products such as cushions or totes for example. Scraps may be repurposed into coasters, or mending patches for those who love their I am Will James garments and are keen to add character to their existing garments. For your trouble, you will receive a code for 15% off your following order with us via email (so please include sender details with your return!).