Sometimes a fashion item becomes so much a part of your life that you start to feel naked without it. This winter I have been reaching almost daily for a warm caramel-coloured cashmere-blend scarf (£275) with a zingy border of hot pink. It’s fine enough to knot around my neck and wear indoors with a a crew- or boat-neck jumper, or wrap around as a generous scarf outdoors. I find it incredibly comforting and, to my surprise, it goes with everything, giving life to a black coat and a glimpse of spring when worn with a chartreuse-green one. It looks good, feels good – and also, pleasingly, does good, having been produced by a small brand called Thread Tales with exemplary ethical credentials.
Thread Tales was founded by Katherine Maunder specifically to work with and support artisan weavers in remote communities. It’s not an original idea, but the quality she achieves is more luxurious than other similarly produced products, which, she says, is due to the close relationships she has forged with workshop owners in Myanmar and Nepal. “Over time, we’ve earned their trust and I’m now allowed access to their secret stash of royal-quality fabric.” The results are classic lifetime buys in mixes of sustainable silk, wool or cashmere that can be hand-embroidered to order with delicate designs.
And the dyeing process? I learn that the bright-pink edge is made without harmful dye chemicals, and residues are collected rather than entering rivers, so my wrap comes with a clear conscience. It’s not quite as soft as all-cashmere but it has charming handmade details – the threads twisted together in the fringe, a tiny metal label personalised with my initials. This is genuinely slow fashion: Thread Tales’ items – from the vibrant dip-dyed scarves (£110) in ultra-fine wool to the deep-blue ikat-woven shawls (£650) in lotus and Mandalay silk – are handmade without electricity. Only low numbers of stock are held, however, so orders can take six to eight weeks to process; bespoke designs can be ordered.