Meet the Maker: Elliot Organics
Welcome to the very first instalment in our ‘meet the maker’ series, where we’ll be offering a peek behind the scenes at some of the incredible brands on Buy Me Once, the ones daring to do things differently by building their products to really last.
We’re delighted to be kicking things off with Elliot Organics. Based in Brighton, this one-woman operation creates beautiful organic cotton basics - sumptuously soft, ethically crafted, and impeccably made so as to last you many years. Without any further ado, let’s meet the maker.
What is your role at Elliot Organics?
My name is Alex Elliot and I’m the designer and founder of the brand. I’m also the director on official papers, and the one who packs and runs to the post office with orders. I’m laughing about it, but I do everything! It’s a one woman business but it feels like a team, thanks to all the amazing people I work with, from pattern cutters and machinists to photographers, my PR and the great stores and online retailers who stock the brand.
What was the driving force behind setting up Elliot Organics?
I’m actually a menswear designer. I spent about 15 years designing for luxury brands and high street names, and for a long time I loved my job. I was travelling all the time, going to places like Paris, Florence and Milan, and I got to live and work in some amazing cities (Barcelona, Singapore and Hong Kong), not to mention London.
But after a while I started to become disillusioned with some of the working practices I was seeing. Suppliers were always being pushed to reduce their costs, and no one was considering the environment at all. I was becoming more conscious myself, both of the environment and how our relationships with others impact the world, and I knew I wanted to do something to combat those negative practices.
But it was a spell working in fast fashion that really gave me the push I needed. I was designing knitwear, and the low price points meant that most styles were made of acrylic, which is essentially a plastic. These were volume styles that were largely destined for landfill, and it broke my heart to see it.
Tell us a bit about your materials and production methods?
All the cotton sourced for elliot. is GOTS certified, which means that not only the fabrics that we use, but the whole supply chain of the fabric manufacturer is certified to the highest Global Organic Textile Standard.
Organic farming is proven to support biodiversity and wildlife, protect animal welfare and reduce exposure to pesticides for the farmers and the land they farm. It could also help combat climate change, by using much less water than conventional farming methods.
But those aren’t the only benefits. Organic cotton really does feel better; it's softer, allows your skin to breathe, and is much less likely to irritate.
I only work with small, certified manufacturers, who pay their staff a fair wage, because launching elliot. was about doing something I could feel good about at the end of the day. I wanted to build a brand that supports everyone in the supply chain, and that is great for the consumer too.
Tell us a bit about the designs of your products?
The range began with only 5 styles (3 of which are still best sellers today). They were based on my wardrobe favourites: styles that I would buy again and again, with very little variation. The perfect rib vest, knickers that looked great and were so comfortable you could forget you were wearing them, and a bra that you weren’t desperate to take off at the end of the day.
I wanted to design styles that were timeless, understated - that would look as good now as they would in 5 years time. Classic, simple pieces that felt great and washed well. They’re investment pieces for your skin.
What frustrates you most about the clothing industry?
People have become used to being able to buy clothes at really low prices. What they don’t understand is that it’s impossible to make a t-shirt for £3 without someone, somewhere suffering. For the company selling that t-shirt to make a profit, the man or woman who sewed it will be paid just a few pence an hour. It’s not ok.
What frustrates me is that people are still happy to shop in those places - even though that t-shirt will probably only last 2-3 washes before it becomes misshapen and unwearable.
What key things make your products different from others on the market?
A lot of people don’t want to hear about the realities of the clothing industry, so I wanted to start a brand that would make caring for yourself (and also the planet) attractive and desirable. I wanted to inspire change from the inside, surreptitiously. To spread the word about climate change while showing that it is possible to look good, feel good and do something good, all at the same time.
So elliot. products are made to last. I am careful to source fabrics that I know will wash and wear well, and improve with age. They are made carefully and in limited numbers; I don’t make more than I think I can sell, and I’m not under pressure to sell through in one season, because I know that the styles I design will be as great this year as next.
Which is your favourite piece in the collection and why?
That’s a great question. I think it’s probably the Ribbed Soft Cup Bra. It’s the first proper bra in the range and I wanted it to hold your shape while still being comfortable. So it doesn’t have underwires or hard cutting straps, it’s soft and gently supportive, and it washes well. For me, it’s the perfect everyday bra. It feels great, and it looks great too - what’s not to love about that!
Have you got any exciting plans for Elliot Organics over the next year?
I would really like to launch some menswear. As a menswear designer, I know that there are far fewer alternatives for men, if you are looking for something ethically sourced and produced. I love that fashion is becoming more inclusive, the whole unisex movement is really exciting, and I think elliot. would really work well for men too. Just a couple of basic shapes initially, a short, a brief and a t-shirt - all beautifully made and as comfortable as the women’s range. It’s an idea that’s still in the works at the moment, but I can’t wait to make it a reality.
Tell us about a product in your life that has lasted a really long time?
Coats and shoes, always. They are products that it’s really worth investing some money in, if you can. I have overcoats that are just as good now, as they were when I bought them; one is nearly 10 years old. If you choose good fabrics and classic shapes, you will always look stylish.
The same goes for shoes. I walk a lot, so it’s important to me that my shoes are both comfortable and hard wearing. Of course I have shoes for special occasions, but my day to day shoes are chosen to last. They’re often very muddy, at the moment, from walking my dog in the rain, but they’re always stylish and well made.
Tell us about a frustrating time a product of yours broke?
I’m laughing - it’s far too embarrassing to share! Let’s just say it involved a favourite pair of knickers and worn out elastic - that day ended up being cold, draughty and uncomfortable!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Some of you might have recognised me from the loungewear shoot - there were a couple of reasons that I wanted to do that. The first was, of course, cost: I didn’t have to pay myself! But also I wanted to work with a model who wasn’t so young, and there aren’t that many out there.
It’s important to me that the brand is really inclusive; age, skin colour - I’d like it to feel accessible for everyone. I also think it’s important that we get used to seeing women as they really are, so I don’t airbrush any of the shoots, and we haven’t used heavy make up, if at all. I can’t help feeling that so many images of artificial beauty are adding to our mental health issues, and I wanted to do something to counteract that.