Tales Of Thread: Ethically Sourced Sleepwear from Ghana
We can't get enough of the beautiful pyjamas and lounge-wear created by luxe British and Ghanaian start-up Tales of Thread. Celebrating pan-African arts, design and textiles, they work with the finest raw materials to create limited edition, hand printed quality pieces, whilst employing women in Ghana who are paid above market wages in safe working environments.
We speak to the founder Rebecca Fordham about why she was inspired to create the brand, African textile heritage and the social impact of Tales of Thread:
What inspired you to start a luxe ethical sleepwear brand?
I saw a gap in the market for high quality sleepwear that can also guarantee customers a traceable and sustainable story. This was lacking amongst other products. What we choose to wear to bed are the items we choose to wear hundreds of times over while being very close to our skin. It therefore makes sense that the materials should be as high quality as possible.
Previously working for the BBC and UNICEF, often travelling at short notice, I needed something not only to sleep in but that could also be used for other occasions. Through my work, I have also seen the dreadful impact of poor working conditions on families and communities. I wanted to create a sustainable business that provides good, socially responsible employment.
Historically pyjamas have always been worn with pride. Think of the Gatsby’s French Riviera or Hollywood’s golden era.We are bringing that back while having fun with our prints. A nighttime suit if you will!
Rebecca Fordham: Founder of Tales of Thread
Like us, you have taken inspiration from the Ghanaian Adinkra symbols for your designs, how important was it for you to use these traditions?
Textile heritage is central to our brand. Ashanti, the first collection, is inspired by the people of the region. Adinkra symbols are central to this culture. For example, our unique Fern print brings protection and strength to the wearer – a lovely idea for sleepwear. Our Kente print honours the famous ceremonial robes of the same name. By celebrating the beautiful arts from this region, we are creating lasting pieces to be cherished while sleeping in style!
Every element of the product has been carefully thought through to link with the brand’s values. The packaging is made from locally sourced cotton, using recycled glass beads. Beads carry huge significance in Ghana, having previously been used for trading.
How do you see Tales of Thread making a positive impact in the garment industry?
It is an opportunity to positively impact the garment industry, which has been tainted by terrible human rights and environmental violations. Women make up 80% of the work force in Ghana. Tales of Thread is contributing to proper wages and conditions. We do this by paying above market wages, in safe working conditions, in female owned and run factories that offer professional development and training opportunities. We work with two female-led factories in Accra - Cadling and Edtex Batiks.
Our transparent supply chain shows people the complexity of the garment industry but also that it is possible to have a positive impact on the people working within it.
There is a growing understanding across the industry, driven by consumers, that what we wear doesn’t have to be fast throw-away fashion. We are proud to promote and be a part of this movement. Vive le revolution!
Cadling Employee Team: Tales of Thread
You speak very passionately about Africa. What is your biggest wish for the continent in the next decade and how do you see this becoming a reality?
We want to help create a sustainable garment industry, one that can compete on the international market while avoiding the human and ecological disasters that other regions experienced.
I have been coming to the continent since I was a teenager; inspired by the energy, vibrancy and creativity across music, fashion and arts. Much of this stays within communities or loses its individuality when mass-produced because the technical expertise at a manufacturing level is not there.
The three greatest challenges that I see are:
- Lack of processing of raw materials. Specifically within the garment industry, domestic cloth is hard to come by. Raw cotton and silk needs to be woven into fabric rather than being exported. The ‘field to fashion’ movement is helping change this.
- Lack of consistent power source is a major problem for the factories we work with. This is a problem across the continent. Governments and the private sector need to invest in alternative renewables that will help reduce costs.
- Lack of printing facilities. Textile creation is an incredibly complex and specialised skill and sorely needed to be able to operate on a larger scale.
At Tales of Thread, our goal is to support the establishment of a specialised printing facility with links to a design school.
You can find out more about their social mission or shop the range on the Tales of Thread website.