FIELDS is best known for its quality, sustainable and timeless design. Recently, the brand won the Trans-seasonal Award presented by BMW i at the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 2021. We caught up with founder, Mikael Hanan, to learn more about his recent work, from a new collection and new collaboration to future aspirations.
What is the inspiration behind your brand?
FIELDS was created to showcase three things. First, the belief that the modern man is proud to be multifaceted, and his identity is the sum of its components. FIELDS explores these facets grouping them as: Soul, encompassing contemplation, purity, connection and integrity; Art, including impactful work, creativity and leadership; and Outdoors, the tactile, the environment, physicality and nature play.
Second, to showcase the high-quality yarn and manufacturing in South Africa. We hope to change the narratives of “low-quality” South African CMT production and proudly support our local textile industry.
And lastly, to highlight African art in a way that allows our audience to engage with art differently.
What is your main concern with the fashion industry?
I have two concerns. First, I want to encourage local customers who shop internationally to consider the local brands doing similar quality work. Perhaps they’ll find a South African brand that resonates with them and their values. My second concern is how do we ensure designers with small and medium runs in production with an 80% sell-through are economically sustainable.
What makes FIELDS an ethical and sustainable fashion brand?
We strive to be transparent. We use natural fibres sourced from the Southern Africa region and work with South African-based factories.
We try to be a part of the making process as much as we can. We regularly visit CMT factories and our head of production and quality, Bronwyn Nel, maps and traces our value chain and each component of our garments, keeping track of all the products we sell. By having Bronwyn in our team and her close coordination with our factory partners, she spends 75% of her time working in the factories. We are proud of how we have focused on building relationships with our factory partners since 2018 and work with them to continuously improve and produce work we are proud of.
Business sustainability is also part of our sustainability focus. So, when we make decisions, we are thinking long-term; we plan to be around a decade from now.
We are constantly looking for ways to reduce waste, improve fabrication and generally minimise our environmental impact. Ethics are also a crucial component of sustainable production and Fairtrade is very important to us.
We’re just starting and still have a long way to go. I would like to add more elements to the list of requirements for our suppliers, such as wastewater treatment. I’d also like us to publish this information for our partners and customers to see.
Tell us about the new collection Exploring.
Exploring was created in response to months of restricted movement under lockdown. The intention is to connect with the world again, and (re)exploring ourselves and the world around us.
The sun has just risen, there’s no better time to explore the world. We want to go places, try something new and revel in life. We look ahead, reminding ourselves to use our hands, rise to an occasion, disconnect from the screen, meet face to face, hug; reignite human connection.
With whom did you collaborate with for the latest collection?
Our latest collaboration is with Capetonian artist and specialist bookseller, Daniel Malan. We were drawn to work with him for a few reasons. We love the movement that is depicted in his art, the colours he uses and his unique perspective, which is evident in his photographic framing. We also liked that he worked for a European luxury house – it meant we were able to approach this collaboration with the highest level of luxury in mind.
Why is important for the brand to collaborate with artists?
We seek collaborations with artists who resonate and align with our ethos. It allows us to create unique, expressive pieces and elevates our garments into collector’s items. It allows collectors to own a piece of wearable (and moveable) art – that becomes part of their daily lives.
What materials do you use?
We focus on natural materials and fibres like cotton, wool and mohair. It’s all sourced in Southern Africa; it’s one of our founding principles. By doing this we can focus on the quality, and breathability of garments, and ensure we’re supporting the local economy. As part of a new project, we’ve been exploring recycled materials which we hope to incorporate in our pieces soon.
Since you’re the Trans-seasonal Award winner for 2021, tell us how you design for timelessness?
Everything we design at FIELDS is made to last. Quality is super important to us, and we work closely with our factories to ensure impeccable fabrication and construction. We do not believe in disposable, trend-driven fashion. We strive to create refined, understated pieces that will endure the test of time, and design with longevity in mind.
Tell us how invest in your product offering, for example the repair service.
We believe strongly in creating clothes ethically and sustainably. Sustainability doesn’t simply end when we sell a garment, but is carried through the life-cycle of the garment. By offering repairs, we encourage our customers to extend the lifespan of their treasured garment, rather than discarding or donating those pieces. We offer repairs free of charge for FIELDS customers – damaged items can be brought in and will be carefully mended. We also offer complimentary tailoring services to any customer who purchases our trousers.
- Images supplied: Photographer: Ian Engelbrecht; Assistant Photographer: Michael Goldsmid; Creative & Styling: Kelly Fung; Founder & Designer: Mikael Hanan
- To learn more about FIELDS, take a look at their website.
- FIELDS was the winner of the Trans-seasonal Award at the Twyg Sustainable Fashion Awards 202, presented by BMW i.