Global Artisans & Cooperatives
What is the relationship between TOAST and its artisans from around the world?
We have been collaborating with our network of craftspeople from around the world for over 20 years. We pride ourselves on working responsibly with all our suppliers. We have written a TOAST Code of Conduct that all suppliers must read, sign and agree to before carrying out any production.
We regularly work with fair trade co-operatives and smaller workshops on artisanal crafts such as block printing, embroidery, tie-dyeing, hand spinning and hand weaving among others. Our intention being to celebrate the profound and timeless skills of these makers and to do what we can to sustain them. We recognise that homeworkers are a vulnerable part of the supply chain due to their complicated employment status and remote rural locations in which they are based. We expect all our suppliers to commit to a transparent and accurate method of recording working hours and costing time frames for work conducted by homeworkers or artisans. As with all our suppliers we require that terms and conditions of work are legally compliant, clearly defined and communicated to the workers.
It is our requirement for all suppliers that wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmark standards, whichever is higher. In any event wages should always be high enough to meet all necessary living costs and to provide some discretionary income. We monitor this through investigation of salary payments, by observing regional wages updates from local governments, and inspecting working hour records at the factory, and through organised conversations with workers while on site.
Manufacturing & Supply Chains
How does TOAST choose its suppliers?
At TOAST we search globally for suppliers with the best strengths for their product areas, and put equal importance and emphasis on their ethical standards and working practices. Please read our Modern Slavery Statement. We pride ourselves in developing longstanding relationships with many of our clients.
How does TOAST audit its suppliers and monitor the ethical statement?
We have worked in partnership with most of our suppliers over many years. We visit them regularly and work through any problems constructively. We do this through a corrective action plan with an agreed time frame and do our upmost to support their efforts to conform to our standards. We have written a TOAST Code of Conduct that all suppliers must read, sign and agree to before carrying out any production.
What happens if a supplier is not conforming?
In the first instance, if we find that a maker is not looking after its workers, or the environment, in the way that we would expect, we dedicate resources to working hand in hand with that maker to help them carry out improvements, rather than simply cutting ties with them. In our own way, we are trying to help to broaden awareness and understanding of these important issues in the communities that we touch.
If we find repeated violations and the supplier is not willing to make corrective actions over an agreed timescale, it is our policy to terminate the co-operation with the supplier and cancel our existing orders.
Why do you produce in China?
We select our suppliers because they demonstrate specialist skills and techniques. China, which has come under attack in the past for labour conditions, also has some of the very best textile manufacturers in the world. We also try to minimise our carbon footprint by ensuring our garments are manufactured in the country where the raw materials are sourced. Whenever we work with a supplier, one of our team visits the supplier in person to examine working conditions, meet the makers, and ensure that we are satisfied that the supplier’s practises match up to our standards and code of conduct.
What processes have you put in place to minimise waste?
We forecast our buy and focus on maximising our sell through rate to avoid any excess product. We use our sales and our outlet stores, at Kilver Court and Llandeilo, to sell any stock left over. Any product we are unable to sell we donate to the charity Newlife which provides support for families with children at end of life, any unsold stock is made into blankets for the children.
Why is my item Dry clean only?
We consider carefully our choices regarding fabric cleaning and we want our customers to have the best performance possible for their purchase. It is only when absolutely necessary do we accept the dry clean only care instructions. We recommend GreenEarth® cleaning through Johnsons. They offer a more environmentally friendly method of cleaning.
How do you offset your carbon footprint?
For express deliveries we now use Go Green DHL. We consolidate our shipments to maximise space on transport vessels and weigh up the most cost effective and most efficient way to transport our goods, be it by road, air or sea. We avoid excessive shipping of raw materials, fabrics or trims around the world and source our materials as close to place of manufacture as is possible. We are currently investigating greener methods of shipping.
Do you use recyclable packaging?
Both our shop carrier bags and packaging for online orders are made from kraft paper which is 100% recyclable and completely biodegradable. Kraft paper is also incredibly strong which means that it can be reused for longer.
Do you offer a clothes swapping scheme?
TOAST clothes are designed with longevity at their heart. In autumn 2019, we launched TOAST Circle in our Westbourne Grove, Bath and Edinburgh stores, an initiative that invites TOAST customers to swap their worn TOAST garments and exchange them for others to cherish and take home. Our ambition is to roll out the initiative across the UK. We strongly believe in fostering a more circular lifestyle, and together with our customer, we are now able to do this.
How and where does TOAST produce its Indigo?
We seek to support the continuing tradition of indigo and pay homage to the artisanal masters. The mills we work with to create our indigo-dyed fabrics – one in Japan, one in Turkey – are innovative and, while focused on tradition, thoroughly modern in their approach. Our Japanese mill has taken the time-consuming, manual process of hank dyeing and remodelled it on a larger scale. By turning the yarns into ropes and building their own dyeing machine, they have expertly mechanised a traditional process. This way, to achieve the same intensity of blue, the rope only needs to dipped and dried 8 to 10 times (instead of up to 30). The results are as spectacular as hand dyeing – with the same variation in shade and hand feel. Our mill in Turkey is dedicated to creating their indigo through painstakingly green production – they use a process they have coined Indigo Flow, whereby the water usage in the dyeing process is reduced by up to 70%. We are proud to use organic cotton on 80% of our denim.
Are you researching sustainable fabrics to replace man-made or synthetic materials?
In terms of the materials we use, we have been steadily decreasing the use of manmade fibres in our garments over recent years. We are proud to be able to say that at present, over 85% of the materials we use are natural, which includes organic cotton. We only accept synthetic materials, such as polyester or nylon, under exceptional circumstances where the performance or durability would be compromised, such as socks, swimwear or certain blended yarns for knitwear or tailoring. However, even then we will limit the blend to no more than approximately 20% of the overall fibre composition. We are working hard to find alternatives for elastane, and are researching options for using recycled materials – we currently use recycled cashmere in our loungewear collection.
What is your animal welfare policy?
At TOAST we sustain a preference for natural textiles such as cotton, wool and linen in our collections but we place equal measure on sustainability and good animal welfare practices.
We weigh and examine thoughtfully our sources of animal-based raw materials. We source fibre that supports standards of humane and responsible animal husbandry and positive sustainability.
At TOAST we will not tolerate any cruelty or mistreatment of animals, in the industry and otherwise. Whilst we acknowledge that some of the behaviours reported in the press are shocking and unacceptable TOAST will not support any associations or individuals who are found to be in contravention of our principles. Here at TOAST we value the long lasting and strong partnerships we have built through our supply chain and we are consistently working to achieve good visibility through our supply chain and working practices. Our sourcing teams at TOAST consistently source raw materials with due diligence to ensure that good animal welfare practice is followed.
From where does TOAST source horn buttons?
The horn is from Buffalo and is a by-product of the food industry.
How do you source the leather for your collections?
We only use leathers that are a by-product of food production
How and from where does TOAST source its wool, cashmere and mohair?
We source yarn from reputable spinners who source their wool from the UK, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, China and South America. Spinners we have been working with for several years include Donegal Yarns in Ireland, Artwell, who are specialists in cashmere, in China and Knoll in Yorkshire.
Are TOAST soaps suitable for vegans?
Yes, TOAST soaps are suitable for vegans and we do not agree to animal testing on any of our products. The essential oils used are natural, fully traceable and of high quality.