For Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, serving the surrounding community is a priority that’s right up there with producing high-quality denim. Founder Han Ates explained that giving back to the community not only provides a more fruitful society, but also encourages a more personal relationship between a brand and its consumers.
“Without creating your local story, you cannot capture people’s imagination,” he said.
The Cut Project, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers’ latest community initiative, centers on local residents affected by knife violence. It takes knives and turns them into buttons for future denim projects. According to Ates, doing so helps turn a negative into something positive.
It also reinforces the message of sustainability, which Ates says can be broken down into three categories: social, personal and environmental. Though many throughout the industry focus on the latter, he argues that social and personal actions can make an even greater impact. In London, where the company is based, this has already begun. He notes the sense of community is getting stronger, and consumers are more eager to support local brands.
After receiving more than 1.2 million pounds ($1.4 million) from the Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology’s (BFTT) Small to Medium Enterprises Creative R&D Program in 2020, Ates launched the region’s first-ever washing lab. He aims to bring manufacturing back to London and establish a London-specific wash aesthetic, characterized by what he calls “Nordic simplicity.”
“Through the process of experimenting, understanding and learning, I am hoping that our know-how is going to improve,” he said. “With that, we are also going to have our own London aesthetic.”
Looking ahead for this year, the brand strives to be a net-zero company, and is focusing its efforts on turning waste into furniture.
Click here to listen to the full conversation with Ates.
This podcast episode is made possible by Cotton Incorporated, a not-for-profit company funded by U.S. cotton producers and importers, and whose mission is to increase the demand and profitability of cotton. Discover What Cotton Can Do.