An interview with TOAST.

An interview with TOAST.
TOAST share our interest in objects made to be infinitely worn, and repaired for a lifetime. They are creators - or should we say re-creators - of a plethora of timeless and time-defying pieces that rescue the discarded from its landfill destiny. We asked them some questions on their materials and processes, their circularity initiatives, and the future of fast fashion.

Cubitts: Tell us about kantha, and the people who make it.

TOAST: Kantha is really important to us. Repurposed kantha jackets and gowns are an integral part of each of our collections. They’re made by women artisans supported by Sasha, a Fair Trade cooperative we have worked with for over ten years – we were so excited to work with them to create the pouches that accompany the Frederick Redux sunglasses.

Typical of Bangladesh and West Bengal, kantha cloths have a long tradition and are made from layers of discarded saris, held together by running stitches created by hand. The women we work with select the saris and hand-stitch them together. Skills are passed between generations, with the older generations offering help to the younger stitchers. We are proud to have worked with this same group for over ten years and to be able to help preserve the technique and traditions.

C: What other techniques from across the world has TOAST adopted?

T: Our sunglasses pouch is made from ikat fabric, which we create new variations of season after season. The material is created for us through a time-intensive process by artisans in India. The cotton yarns are carefully bound together before being dipped in dye – the areas which are tightly wrapped are protected from the colour, creating unique patterns. Then, the dyed yarn is woven on traditional handlooms.

Block printing is another technique that we use in India. Each printing block is skillfully hand-carved to our TOAST designs, then lined up by eye on the fabric. We love the irregularities that result from this and show the hand of the maker. The roots of the technique date back to ancient civilisations and India is now the epicentre.

Our designers and product developers travel to visit our suppliers around the world, working with them to explore the possibilities of the many different techniques we use.

C: How can we look to the past to help us to move away from the present-day grip of fast fashion?

T: At TOAST we are guided by the beauty of craft, the importance of long-lasting clothing and our impact on people and the planet.

Our clothing, homeware and accessories are produced in collaboration with artisans, weavers, and mills from across the globe. We work together to support local communities, preserving craftsmanship and traditional techniques.

Textile techniques such as kantha stitching and patchworking have been practised for centuries and are inherent to traditional crafts.

This long history of reusing materials is a useful concept to address the negative impacts of mass production and hyper-consumption today. Handmade pieces created by skilled craftspeople become treasured items to keep and pass on.

C: What is your approach to repairs?

T: Extending the life of a garment through repair not only honours the original garment but can also reduce its environmental impact.

TOAST Repair is our free mending service, bringing new life to worn TOAST garments. Currently, we have a team of repair specialists working in seven of our shop locations across the UK. Customers can bring any TOAST clothing item in need of repair to one of our shops to discuss mending options with one of the repair specialists. During the consultation, they are able to choose from a range of mending options that are invisible or visible, from sashiko repair, darning and patching to appliqué.

Our TOAST Renewed collection extends our long-standing approach to cherishing materials and honouring the hands that make our pieces. A pilled area on a quilt can be covered with contrasting patches, while a small hole at the front of a cashmere sweater can be darned in a contrasting colour.

Through these initiatives, we not only give worn items a new lease of life; through artistry, imagination, and skill, we challenge the perspective that tears, holes and other flaws diminish the beauty of well-crafted pieces. They also allow us to take responsibility for the whole life cycle of our products.

Frederick REDUX is available in stores and online from Cubitts and TOAST.