We are particular about the raw materials that are sourced. It's safe to say that Cathryn used to share the popular view that synthetic materials were inferior to leather, in her past professional life. She thought, like so many others, that leather was the superior option; overlooking the inherent exploitation that went with this raw material in the fashion industry + ignoring the disastrous environmental concerns with leather production + carbon footprint. We undertook a journey to find materials that stood up to the aesthetic + tactile vision for Sans Beast. We also needed environmental efficacy of those materials, so we hunted for a supplier who created their synthetic materials responsibly. We use an Eco PU - which means the fabrics adhere to international chemical + toxicity standards - they are REACH + Prop65 compliant. We are not suggesting perfection - our pieces are not going to disappear from the earth any time soon (neither is that chrome tanned, heavily sprayed leather handbag or pair of shoes) + we continue to source + sample new materials + in 2021 launched 40% of our collection in Global Recycled Standard certified materials that are water based + solvent free PU's. We also added Cactus material (often called Cactus Leather despite the founders of Desserto - the makers of cactus material - turning away from this terminology, preferring instead to focus on the superior nature of a plant derived material) to the collection which is a brilliant, low impact organic material that is partially biodegradable. We design pieces with spirit + integrity for people who will love them. Adored pieces don't go to landfill. They're treasured, collected, shared, repaired, upcycled.
Hopefully by now, you've watched the films A Makers View, and you have some idea of what the factory looks like + who Tony Lee is. Our design process is closely linked to our relationship with the factory. Sketching involves the shapes + the internals, but also the hardware + trimmings that are to be used. Patterns then need to be made by Tony's team, in Dongguan, moulds for the metal are completed by the hardware factory + artwork as required, is created. In order to get the styles right, we do at least two rounds of sampling, plus a full coloured range of samples for photography + press, and this process can take up to 6 months.
We produce at SingFai Handbags in the Dongguan area of Southern China which is owned + run by Tony + his brother Sing. The factory employs approximately 350 staff, with 50/50 men + women. Food + accommodation is provided, as is typical in China factories, and wages are above regional award, as certified by both Intertek + ESTS (Sedex approved) audits (most recent one undertaken in April 2021. The production period goes for approximately 3 months, depending on material availability + it is a constant communication with the factory + the Sans Beast team to ensure all details remain on track. An exceptional relationship is called for in order for this to run smoothly. The history of Cathryn working with Tony + his team in Dongguan, China, for 14 years, results in a trusting + communicative relationship. Our collections would not come together without his extreme care & attention to detail.
Packaging is a fraught area of the final production process. Goods need to be shipped + this means they're sitting in a box + on a vessel for up to 4 weeks. We transitioned 85% of our production from being packed into traditional plastic poly bags, to Hydroplast water soluble bags midway through 2019. It took time, effort + investment to get there - but it's a really positive step forward. Yet, we have further to go, there is still plastic in our supply chain from factory to SB. We will keep our community updated with any + all progress in this area.
When you place an order, first, we say one of the following things: yay, thank you, brilliant, cheers, oooh that's a good choice...etc. Then, we get to preparing your order. John is the main human in our warehouse + he is a stickler for detail. He hand writes a card for you (printed by Castlemaine small business, Print Together, on post consumer recycled paper with eco friendly inks), gets all the address labels sorted, checks that your purchase is perfect, rejects items that don't adhere to his high standards, then packs your treasure in its recycled cotton, undyed Sans Beast dust bag, carefully wraps it in the NoIssue branded paper (soy printed on paper from FSC sources), seals it with a sticker, and pops it in a recycled + recyclable cardboard box + seals the package with water activated paper tape. Yes, it's a process, and we are asked not to get in his way. Short of sealing it with a kiss, these parcels are sent with love + dedication. Hell, if you live close to the studio or our home, John rides his bike + hand delivers it. Amazon he is not, fabulously niche he is.