MEET ELEANOR (E.A) WILLIAMS
EA WILLIAMS is a British Clothing brand based in North London founded by vegan designer Eleanor Williams. Eleanor's brand is about mixing science and seasons creating pieces that are not trend lead. Animal rights and the environment are priorities for Eleanor and she carries that through all her work. She believes no one should suffer for clothes especially not the planet.
"I had years of being frustrated with the lack of cool clothing that had any substance and I wanted to try and normalize the word vegan and what benefits can come from respecting animals, the earth and ultimately each other."
What 2 words best describe your brand, E.A. Williams?
When did you start E.A. Williams, and what inspired you to?
I started it in 2018 in my cramped studio in Dalston, London. By then I had years of being frustrated with the lack of cool clothing that had any substance and I wanted to try and normalize the word vegan and what benefits can come from respecting animals, the earth and ultimately each other.
Tell us about the team behind the brand
I have a very small scale made to order operation carried out solely by myself and my design assistant all produced in London. Keeping things small scale is helping me to keep my brands values and means there is no waste or dead stock.
What’s playing on the office / studio stereo?
Lots of post punk stuff the ones I have on repeat at the moment are Squid, Gender roles, IDLES, Dry Cleaning.. ooh and Hockey Dads new album; Brain candy.
We define good design as ‘making positive impact on people and the planet a key input in the design stage’. How do you approach this at EA Williams?
I start by being 100% transparent about what I do and where my fabrics come from, I make sure I am doing what I can to try to be as low impact as I can with my choice of fabrics and my overall process. I also think there's a responsibility as a designer to lead by example and not shy away from showing your core values through your brand. I think we all have to be political and demand what we want from brands to move forward.
You work a lot with natural dyes, can you tell us a bit about that and how natural dying differs from the dyes more commonly used?
The majority of clothing today is made with synthetic dyes and the chemical compounds in them can be quite harmful to people and the factories workers who are using them. They can also cause water pollution if not treated before disposing of them. You can see lots of pictures online of lakes that have completely turned pink from the nearby factories which although may look pretty is polluted water and very toxic for locals and the wildlife. These factors are why I love using natural dyes as they are sustainable and don't harm people or the planet.
Choosing to work with nature and natural dyes is quite technically difficult compared to working with synthetic dye. How did you learn this craft?
I learnt a lot from my mum she grows lots of plants in her allotment and she taught me the basics in eco printing, that's when I saw the potential of what I could achieve with plants and the variety of techniques I've learnt.
Since I started natural dyeing, I have become more attuned to my natural surroundings. Natural dyeing is an old craft that asks us to slow down and look at the plants around us, appreciating how much they give to us. It's an unpredictable complex mix of science and seasons. I plan ahead, working with natures seasons; I harvest plants at certain times of year, leave them to dry and store them in a jar to use out of season. I embrace the unpredictability of nature; the changing shapes and colours of plants over seasons. The fluctuation becomes apparent when you mix different mordants with the different fabrics, in a variety of different temperatures. The unpredictability of the process and the unique results is part of the beauty.
We believe transparency is super important when talking about sustainability, so we always ask designers - what would you like to do better, or are you working on improving?
I think there's always a way to do better, I would like to use less cotton and move to only using hemp and bamboo, this is a current goal of mine that is hard to implement economically but I am working towards it.
Where is EA Williams going in the future?
I think it will continue to organically grow and develop with more exciting pieces on the way. There will always be more collaborations with creatives and platforms I admire and I'm excited to see it blossom.
Photographers Left: Eleanor Cremona, Right: Beth Price-King
As we all know, the fashion industry is responsible for huge environmental and social issues. How would you like to see the industry change and progress?
I want to see less use of leather; calf and lamb skin. Leather seems to be everywhere and normalised as a vegetarian friendly product which I have never understood. I think that respecting animals is a step towards respecting the planet too. If we wear leather I think we need to normalise asking where did this animal come, did it have a nice life, how long did it live for?
Ultimately I want to see brands be more transparent and everything down to staff wages should not be hidden. I think more honesty will help the industry progress.
What advice would you give to people who want to be more responsible when they’re shopping?
We all have a responsibility as a consumer who we give our money to. I think we all can be more mindful about that. I like the saying "it's only one plastic bottle says 1 billion people" we all have power so let's use it for good. I also think question brands if they say they are sustainable ask them what actions they are taking to call themselves that. By questioning brands, we can avoid them greenwashing by using phrases like "zero Impact". Theres always an impact but it's how we minimize that.
You can read more about Eleanor's label E.A.Williams and the awesome collection here.