A light, airy space filled with rails of completely unique pieces all made by hand. Believe it or not, this is no Bond Street boutique with couture prices. Tops, skirts, dresses and accessories – every item at The FARA Workshop has been lovingly created in-store by the project’s expert design team. Sustainable fashion is something that’s been widely discussed of late, and the FARA Workshop is a project that’s really rethinking style and design within the context of charity and sustainability. We found out more from the Workshop’s designer and manager Grace Clark.
How did The FARA Workshop come about?
FARA (a charity helping orphaned and abandoned children in Romania) wanted to establish a new social enterprise in the UK and to incorporate it in their mission to minimise waste and extend the life of the clothing that is so generously donated to their 50 existing charity shops.
About a year ago, the charity brought Anna Crawley on board as the Director of The FARA Workshop. Anna asked me to join her and work as the designer for the project. The original concept of upcycling damaged donated clothing was developed and Anna and I were both keen to have our own collection – alongside the reworked line – which could be made from scratch out of donated fabric and clothing cut up to be used as fabric.
Who are the designers and makers?
Anna and I are incredibly fortunate with our talented team of pattern cutters and makers. I am the designer and workshop manager. We have two main pattern cutters, Jess Williamson and Hannah Rooke who both have been working with us for 9 months now. Then we have three production and workshop assistants; Katie Bremner, Tola Mohiki and Helen Astaire. All are design graduates and the collaborative atmosphere in the workshop is fantastic.
How do you come up with the designs?
As we use only donated material and clothing to create the collection, designing is a constant challenge. The shapes of the styles are deliberately quite clean and simplistic so that we are able to experiment and play with the fabric choices as we never know what we might be given! A lot of the designing happens on the cutting table where I choose fabrics and cut most of it myself, so I can turn little quirks of the fabric into unique details.
The reworked line is dictated by the piece of clothing in the first place. We decide whether to cut it up, add new panels, dye it, shorten it – all sorts of possibilities emerge. This line is far less directed and I encourage the team to put their own stamp and style on the pieces, obviously all still fitting under our aesthetic umbrella.
How often do collections change?
We are keen to keep the shop looking fresh and exciting so we add new stock daily. Even the same styles can change completely when made from different fabrics. We are constantly working on developing new styles and adding to the collection too.
What’s next for the FARA Workshop?
We’ve just launched workshops, covering a broad range of classes from basic hand and machine sewing to pattern cutting and everything in between. Available for beginners and more experienced sewers alike, we offer one-to-one sessions as well as group workshops, starting at £15. We are also about to start selling THE FARA WORKSHOP online: ASOS marketplace is stocking our collection and you will soon be able to shop via on our own website too.