The Level Collective was founded in 2014 by British designer Mark Musgrave.
The broken system
For me, it all started with watching a number of exposé documentaries including the award winning True Cost – which highlights the harrowing prevalence of unethical fast fashion in the production of clothing for high street brands. It shows the cold reality of the mistreatment and degrading injustice to our fellow humans and the raw abuse of our environment – all in the name of fashion and profit.
It challenged me to ask questions of my own purchasing habits; who made my clothes? In what conditions? Were they paid fairly? And what impact did this have on the planet?
In my early twenties I worked for a couple of different high street fashion retailers and got to spend some time at head office. I found that my questions about ethics, transparency and sustainability were met with vague answers and awkward silences. As if it was a taboo subject. The elephant in the room.
Fast fashion is a broken system and there is no quick fix. The way forward has to come from both brands and customers; brands taking responsibility for making their products in a way that is respectful to people and our planet. And as customers we should recognise the power of our voting tokens (money) and choose to support responsible brands.
Meanwhile, I travelled to Romania to volunteer with a charity who work in disadvantaged Roma communities. One of their many practical projects; Dece – training people how to hand make knitted products which are then sold to provide living wages to support their families.
I saw the difference this was making to the everyday lives of these families, creating a sustainable income – helping them out of the vicious cycle of poverty.
This blew my mind. This is how clothing should be made: in a way that is liberating, that gives people dignity – that benefits everyone in the process, not just the tiny few at the top.
I knew I had to start something new.
The start of something new
I wanted to provide an alternative to unethical fast fashion. The old system is broken. Slow fashion is the future.
I wanted to create an example of how clothing should be made. Clothing that is proudly made by fellow makers who are respected and paid fairly for their skills.
Clothing that is made using natural, organic and recycled ingredients – working with nature, not against. Clothing that is designed to last a long time that can be enjoyed for many years.
As a designer, I wanted to collaborate with other skilled artists and makers to create products that are beautiful and functional. Products that are inspired by mountains, waves and forests. Products for work and play – for the commute and wilderness pursuit.
The commute & wilderness pursuit
Like many people, I aim to live a balanced or Level life – embracing the richness of day-to-day work and general life, yet carving out time to reconnect with our favourite people and places.
I enjoy the creative process, moments of inspiration – collaborating with others to bring my ideas to life.
But for me there’s nothing quite like the connection and freedom of experiencing the vastness of mountains, the stillness of the forest, and the ferocity of the ocean – especially with my closest friends.