AFC Members Shaping the Future of Fashion
MEET | Thread Harvest
Davyn de Bruyn | Managing Director
We caught up with Davyn de Bruyn, managing director of Thread Harvest, to hear a bit about where he sees the industry changing, and how Thread Harvest is constantly adapting to offer the best product to their customers while advocating for a more transparent and socially conscious fashion industry.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO STARTING …
I have always believed that I am average and that my life wouldn't amount to much. Having grown up in South Africa for most of my life I was raised with the belief that one needs to take care of themselves as no one else will help you. After I qualified with my B.com in Supply Chain and Logistics Management and began working I moved to Australia in 2012 to see if there was more to life than what I was experiencing. I moved here and to my disappointment found the same life I had back home in SA. Every week felt the same and I lived with the hope that one day I would earn enough money to eventually be able to begin pursuing my dreams. In 2012 I had a revelation that there was more to life than just existing and that this one day wouldn't just come, I had to step out and create it. I had always wanted to start my own clothing label as my mom was a seamstress and I had a love for fashion and putting on an outfit that made you feel like you could do anything in it. I wanted to create something that made people feel like they were invincible when they put it on.
I resigned from my job, started a clothing label and off I went. I've made many mistakes along the way and failed many times but have met some amazing people who joined the journey and continue to move us forward towards fulfilling our vision.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE FASHION?
In 2015 we went through a business accelerator program and one of the impact investors asked us where we were getting our footwear from? My response was, "China, isn't that where everyone gets everything from?" The questions that followed left me feeling embarrassed as I had no idea what the answers were. Where are they being made?, Who is making them?, What are the worker's conditions? etc.
We wanted to be a profit for purpose business and use the profits to empower disadvantaged communities and thought that was more than sufficient as far as being an ethical business was concerned. The impact investor challenged us and we will never forget what he said to us: "I love the concept of profit for purpose guys, but you can't be an organisation that empowers on the one hand when you could be exploiting on the other." We went back to the drawing board and said if we are going to do this then we will need to do it right. Ethical fashion. What on earth is ethical fashion? What we discovered about the fashion industry when we began asking questions shocked us and what we quickly realised is that the greatest way we were going to make an impact was not through how we used the profits but rather how we created our products.
Not long after this experience, I was introduced to Jai, one of the founders of Thread Harvest, and after a couple of months and a number of conversations my team and I ended up buying into Thread Harvest and coming on board in an effort to take it to new heights and see this way of thinking become the norm.
WHAT IS IT THAT THREAD HARVEST EXCELS IN?
Connecting social and ethically minded fashion brands to a socially conscious market place of world changers.
WHAT BRANDS AND BUSINESSES ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING WITH?
Etiko, Elle Evans, Tasi Travels, No Nasties, Arture, Conscious Step and many more…
WHAT DO YOU FEEL ARE SOME OF THE GREATEST CHALLENGES THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS FACING FROM A TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION STANDPOINT?
Technology - access to new machines and equipment that improve the efficiency and quality of garments being produced. Access to new innovative processes of creating materials that are environmentally sustainable. Innovation - access to capital that allows brands/fashion organisations to continue to improve the quality, price and promotion of their offering. Communicating the impact that the products are having on the environment and the people creating the products. Grants and support for brands/organisations who are taking active steps to create a better offering that improves the industry. Platforms that promote, educate and offer brands that are sustainable and ethical in their treatment of people and planet
WHAT IS THREAD HARVEST DOING TO ADDRESS THOSE CHALLENGES YOU SPOKE ABOUT?
Creating a platform that promotes brands that are socially conscious, fashionable and affordable but also educates employees on their purchase and the various levels of impact they have. Going through the investment process and trying to improve the process for fashion companies who are seeking capital. Advocating for a more transparent and socially conscious fashion industry.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND THE BUSINESS?
Improving the way we communicate and report the impact our brands are having through the sale of their products. Being able to provide real time impact with every purchase that is made so consumers are connected to the present change they are creating with every purchase and can share that story with family and friends.
FROM YOUR INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER BUSINESSES AND DESIGNERS IN AN INDUSTRY WHERE CONSTANT CHANGE IS INEVITABLE?
Develop an optimistic mindset around change. Change is good and necessary and if we embrace it then it will mean that we can continue to evolve and increase the impact we desire to see in the industry.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ?
Head over to the Thread Harvest website by clicking below.