W H O A R E W E ?
Based in Brighton, ILK + ERNIE create quality, comfortable and sustainable clothes. Our vision is to see every woman wearing clothes that not only turn heads but have a positive impact on the environment as well.
For generations of women that live in a society that want to pit women against each other, we see it as our job to resist that tyranny. We are for spirited, free thinking females. Our collections are there to empower you and to ignite your confidence of self. We are passionate about our amazing community and invite you to join us on our mission for change.
W H Y S U P P O R T U S ?
We are fashion forward, without compromising on ethics.
If there’s anything we’re learning in the news at the moment, it’s that fast fashion is one of the most harmful industries affecting our planet. Larger fashion corporations throw away huge quantities of fabric every season. This fabric is considered dead stock, waste fabric, that if not bought by little brands like Ilk + Ernie, would soon end up in landfills.
Every season, we travel to India and spend weeks trawling the markets where these fabrics are cast off. We purchase, recycle and re-use these disposed fabrics by taking them off the street and turning them into the clothes you see on our website! Our method of doing things also means that we don’t produce fabric, saving on greenhouse emissions and the millions of litres of water used to produce fabrics worldwide every year.
We not only want to reduce waste with the fabric we use, but in our factory's supply chain as well. Once a year, left over samples and unused garments from all the brands working with our factory are collected and distributed to homeless children in Delhi.
HI! I'm Jess, the founder of Ilk + Ernie.
Like many others on a similar path, my career began after a somewhat rocky stint in the fashion Industry. I wouldn’t say I had the easiest start to my career, the fashion industry is TOUGH!
I worked in various roles but the job that got me onto my sustainability path was during my time as a visual merchandiser at Topshop. I was based in the flagship store on Oxford Circus. It blew my mind how much people shopped. An endless flow of people, day in, day out. This was 10 years ago, around the time that Fast Fashion was solidifying it’s permanent place in the market and changing our mindset and relationship with clothes.
For some time even I was momentarily sucked into the mindset that I needed more in my wardrobe than was necessary. I think we all have. That exact thought process is what drastically needs to change, not just within the industry, but as the consumers that have been marketed to this way of thinking.
I realised quite quickly that I wasn’t fitting into the industry in the way I'd hoped. Which is what eventually led me to launching Ilk + Ernie.
The fashion world has needed to change for a long time, we’ve lost touch with reality not just as consumers but businesses owners too. Working in high street retail opened my eyes to how wasteful the industry was, I knew that when it came to my business, I was going to do things differently.
Some facts: fashion is responsible for 10% of the worlds green house emissions. That's a pretty huge deal. Polluted rivers, landfill pilled with clothes, millions of clothes incinerated every year and the horrific mistreatment and exploitation of garment workers world wide. We need to change or face up to the fact that we are aiding in the continual destruction of our planet.
SO! The first thing I wanted to tackle was the potential waste in my supply chain. Fabric waste is a huuuge issue, especially in large high street supply chains. I decided pretty quickly that I wanted to avoid producing fabric as much as possible. As a result, all our fabric is hand sourced from suppliers I have been working with for over 5 years. So far, my mission has worked. We don't produce ANY fabric, which i'm immensely proud of.⠀
If you've been following my brand for any amount of time, you'll know by now that my garment workers are very important to me. Garment workers have become some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. If there’s anything we’re learning in the news at the moment, it’s that terrible things are happening right under our noses. Poor unsafe working conditions, people trafficking, harassment, low wages. They are mistreated and exploited beyond belief. This culture of mistreatment is an injustice that most of the fashion industry has yet to fully address.
So when starting this business, I needed to know that the people producing my garments were cared for, not just financially but physically, they needed to be safe. All of our collections are ethically made by a talented team of men and women in Delhi, India. They receive all of the amazing treatment that a lot of us take for granted: fair wages, holiday pay, health insurance, safe working environments and EU standard working hours.
Sam our factory owner has worked tirelessly to achieve these ethical standards through out his factory, so much so that he is now officially Sedex certified, meaning his factory is recognised worldwide as doing things ethically - which is pretty cool!
Meet our heads of departments
This is Sam, AKA boss man. His father Sanjay opened their factory 30 years ago. Sam and him have been partners for 15 years. A few years ago Sanjay decided to semi-retire, leaving Sam in charge of the runnings of the factory. Don't tell him we said this, but he works his ass off ❤️. We appreciate him A LOT.
Meet our Master Ji Javed. He has the most important role in our factory. The Master Ji is the factories head tailor. Javed oversees the pattern cutting, sizing and fit of every single one of our designs. He's a bloody wizard and we'd be lost without him.
This is Prabhu he's the factories accountant, which is probably more of an important role to Sam than us, but we like him because he's got a fantastic smile.
We're super proud to also have women heading the departments in our factory (which can be a rarity in India!). Meet Samita our head merchandiser, she holds her own amongst all the men. We're big fans.
Finally meet Rohit (right) and Nafees (left). Rohit is the head of quality control. That's right, if there's a missing button, dodgy zip or wonky seam, he'll know about it. Nafees is head of sourcing, you'll often find him by our side, battling the crowded streets of Delhi looking for the best surplus fabric we can find!