THTC Clothing is the UK’s leading ethical streetwear label, producing socially and environmentally-sustainable clothing from hemp, organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials. In November 2018 THTC was recognised in SME Magazine’s Business Elite programme for their continued dedication to excellence in the ethical retail sector. We spoke with the company’s co-founder, Gav Lawson, to find out more about their trend-setting approach to business.
Founded almost twenty years ago, THTC was one of the very first businesses to be formed on a platform of ethical business practices, long before sustainability and ethically-sourced products became a priority for the world’s largest companies. Today, eco-friendly products are in-vogue, but THTC’s remarkable influence on this trend remains unmistakable. However, THTC’s impact isn’t limited to environmental concerns or in their ‘crusade’ to recognise hemp as a credible clothing material, but also in their ongoing activist work, and their efforts to change the way that consumers think about where and how they shop.
Despite all of this, Gav emphasises that THTC’s founding mission remains the same, regardless of how large the company grows. “The brand has operated for two decades with a network of stockists that covers the globe. Our style of design is heavily influenced by Hip Hop culture, as well as social and environmental activism. Our ‘specialism’ is that we do whatever it takes to ensure our materials are sourced ethically, meaning that our garment workers are paid a fair living wage. We don’t believe in getting cheap stuff at the cost of someone else’s wellbeing. We actually believe that this should be the bare minimum consideration for any business.”
“We work with a range of designers from across the world, many of whom are renowned street graffiti artists and illustrators. We have produced over 200 designs for our brand and collaborated on well over 100 ranges with global charities, NGOs and companies looking for ethical and sustainable merchandise solutions.”
Initially networking with DJs and musicians, THTC swiftly developed an ardent fan following of celebrities and influencers, with Woody Harrelson being an early supporter. Through their commitment to their ethical roots, they nowvcount Prof. Benjamin Zephaniah, Ed Sheeran, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Jason Flemyng, Beardyman, Taz Ilyas, and many more besides, among their supporters. “We also serve wholesale customers who find us at the many eco, hemp and cannabis industry trade shows at which we exhibit. In addition, we work on collaborative and private label commission with many charities and NGOs who we approach when we have a creative execution that might work for them.”
“We are successful as we fulfil an urgent need in the world for sustainably-minded, ethically-run businesses that place people and the environment before profit. We also have very strong designs from some of the world’s best loved artists.”
Though THTC are an international company with fans and clients around the world, the business has always been locally-run in West London. This approach to business, growing organically through the clever utilisation of social media and networking, has allowed the company a greater degree of flexibility, as Gav discusses further.
“Though THTC is stocked in over twenty countries worldwide, and worn by hundreds of thousands of people, it has always been a small and wholly-owned business. Our size and manoeuvrability has enabled us to take great risks and support causes that other companies simply can’t do due to investor interests.”
The conversation soon turns to the topic of the future. As we move into 2019, Brexit’s presence looms large for businesses across the UK, including THTC, as Gavin explains. “As we’re an international business, Brexit poses the biggest challenge in that we have no idea what is going to happen. However, whatever the weather, THTC will ensure that we continue to hold our business and ourselves to the highest of standards and provide high quality, ethical clothing at affordable prices for everyone.”
Ultimately, 2019 is an important year for THTC, as they celebrate their twentieth year much the same as they started their first: helping to change the face of business through a commitment to ethical practices. “2019 is THTC’s 20th anniversary year – throughout the whole year we will be celebrating our brand’s history and that of our community with a series of national and international events. We currently have several regional events planned, bringing together music, social activism and hemp clothing at venues across the UK. In addition, THTC will be joining our trade association, the British Hemp Association in lobbying the British Government to reform the laws governing hemp agriculture in the UK.”