Ethical accessories label Sans Beast has launched its second collection, 'The Book of Harlequin'. After just one season of trade, the brand has successfully secured David Jones as a national stockist. Founder Cathryn Wills talks ethical production.

"We aim to be transparent with our approach not imply perfection.

"Ethical behavior is related to moral principles and this is an elastic concept, with all of us having our own view of what denotes ethical credentials in fashion.

"We don’t use products derived from animals, as we believe the industry for mass raising + slaughtering of animals has too much wriggle room for unethical behavior.

"Farmed animals are not protected in the same manner that domestic animals are.

"This in my view is not ethical. We are PETA accredited + this means we have signed a legal document attesting to never using animal products in our collections.

"In terms of manufacturing - we work with a manufacturer in Dongguan (Southern China), who works with several large international retailers, all of whom put their factories through audits and regular visit schedules, to ensure compliance to a code of conduct is achieved.

"This code of conduct is displayed in the factory for workers and customers to see and it covers areas such as maximum working hours, provision for overtime pay, time off, guarantee of safety, no child labor, no corporal punishment, anti corruption and no unauthorized sub contracting.

"We visit the factory four times a year, work with the team there and walk the factory floor. When it came to choosing a manufacturer for Sans Beast to work with, it was about who would be willing to support a small business with less than ideal order quantities as well as who could deliver the quality for the right price plus adhere to a clear code of conduct with their workers. We have a partner in Tony and his family, and he’s thoroughly supported the startup process.

"We use quality polyurethane that is accredited REACH and CA65 compliant. This means that the chemicals used in the manufacture of the materials are at internationally compliant levels. In a nutshell, we work with good people who treat their workers fairly, we use man made materials that are as good as they can be for the price point tier they sit within and we don’t treat animals like a commodity in our ranges.

"We share all of this with our customer with an open, transparent approach."

Founder Cathryn Wills launched the label after a long and profitable stint at Mimco, working as managing and creative director. Adopting a vegetarian diet in 2015 led her to recognise a disconnect between her professional role and her ethical stance on animal welfare and the environment. Sourcing Eco PU’s that adhere to international standards on chemical ingredients, Wills works closely with a small team in China. Each piece takes around two to three months to produce, depending on availability of materials and the processes used.

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