According to Gillian McNeill, founder of Law Design Studio, there are some big problems in our relationship with fashion. After working as a high street designer for the last decade and witnessing fast fashion and throwaway culture, Gillian was troubled by the frivolous attitude people had towards clothing.
That’s when she decided to make a change. The Atlantic Dispatch sat down with Gillian to talk about the journey she has been on since founding her sustainable fashion brand, Law Design Studio.
Love, mend, respect
Sustainability in the fashion world has long been on Gillian’s mind, but she sprang into action after she had started a family.
“When I had my two daughters,” she explains, “I started to think about things differently and wanted to be a part of a positive change in attitudes to clothing instead of being a part of the problem.”
This powerful urge to make a change led her to start Law Design Studio, a Glasgow-based slow fashion venture. Instead of producing garments on a mass scale, Gillian creates made-to-order pieces, so each item is created especially for a customer. On top of this, Gillian prides herself in using fabrics that are 100% natural (mostly linens and Organic cotton).
This slow and deeply personal approach to sustainable fashion was inspired by a desire to be kinder to the planet and reduce waste. When asked why it is so important it is to redefine our relationship with clothes, Gillian didn’t hesitate:
“The way we are treating our planet with our fast fashion bargains that last a couple of wears is deeply impactful to our environment and is just not a sustainable option.”
The circular system
As well as paying greater respect to the planet and to the people who create the pieces in our wardrobes, Gillian is passionate about paying respect to the garments themselves.
“Clothing should have some sort of emotional attachment,” she argues, “so we take care of it, mend it when worn, and respect what has been handcrafted by someone.”
It was with this in mind that she created the #LAWCircular system that sets this progressive brand apart.
The circular system is all about reusing clothes and finding them a new home rather than letting them gather dust in your wardrobe. Gillian encourages her customers to send her back any items of Law Design Studio clothing that they no longer wear, so that they can be fixed up, replenished, and sold on through the Law Circular marketplace.
Each customer who sends back a pre-loved item is rewarded with vouchers for the Law Design Studio site so that they can invest in more sustainable designs and keep the cycle going strong.
One of the reasons that the Law Circular system works so well, is that Gillian is committed to creating timeless designs that aren’t constricted by trends or age groups. She explains that one of her primary motivations for starting the business was to “create timeless ageless clothing for everyone.” She continues:
“I love that I have customers who are as young as 16 and in their 70s wearing the same styles and looking and feeling great wearing them.”
This timeless, cross-generational approach to fashion counters the damage done by the fast-paced world of high street clothing brands. One survey of 2,000 women found that, on average, a piece of clothing was worn only seven times before being discarded. Clearly, clothes are not often built to last or to be re-worn. The fact that clothes from Law Design Studio are created to withstand the test of time and suit people no matter what the current fashion trends dictate disrupts this throwaway culture.
The business of fashion
Of course, it hasn’t all been easy for Gillian, building a new business up from the ground. Especially considering she has a family to look after at the same time! For her, achieving a healthy balance between work and family life is the key to success.
When asked about any advice she’d give to budding entrepreneurs in a similar situation, she said that it’s important to remember that family comes first.
“Your business becomes “your baby” as you are so invested from a mental and physical point of view. So, sometimes it is hard to take a step back to remember why you are doing it in the first place.”