When I met Claire Campbell of Island Threads for coffee overlooking St Brelades Bay, she was giddy with excitement. A popular American blogger had posted a picture on Instagram of one of her range’s swimsuits the night before and she had found herself inundated with interest. This is a big deal for Island Threads, a small Jersey company, which is making a large impact both on and off the rock. Not only because she is a pioneer in launching a fashion brand from the Island, but because of the core message behind the brand that ensures that all products are ethically sourced and produced.
Nearly at it’s first year anniversary, the fashion brand is wholly reflective of Claire and the Island she currently calls home; simple, stylish with borrowed vibes from her wide travels. Think festival wear that would easily translate from the beach to the bar. The company is a culmination of years of playing with fashion, both through employment and her free time. She started the business after being frustrated with the fashion on offer in Jersey and wanting something a little different to stand out from the crowd. After a few years of selling clothes from her closet Claire took the leap and set up Island Threads, turning a hobby into a business. A self confessed jack-of-all-trades, Claire has experience in marketing, styling, design plus a sound business acumen, all of which gives her the skill-set to make her dream into a reality.
Initially the Island Threads clothes were produced wholesale, but after visiting the warehouses Claire was horrified at the working conditions and how the clothes were treated. Material flung everywhere with garments bundled in disposable bags along the floor, it cemented her decision then to invest further time in finding the right production partners. Claire explored alternative options and now works with a close knit team in Bali where she knows all of the tailors by name and is closely involved in whole design to production process.
When I asked her how customers have responded to her efforts to ensure all her clothes are ethically produced, which has undoubtedly made producing garments more difficult, she admits that most are unaware. “People are attracted to the clothes firstly and often I have to tell them about their background afterwards.” Claire does not shout about where her clothes come from or how they’re produced, it is not a marketing ploy but something that is immensely personal to Claire herself. It does however, command respect from her peers and will draw repeat customers who share her values.
There’s a lot of get-up-and-go in Claire, she travels frequently always looking out for materials, prints or anything that can offer a source of inspiration. Island Threads is sold via an on-line platform and with a small presence at St Brelades Bay promenade, but she can also be found at the local festival scene, having held pop up stores at events such as Jersey Live and Groove de Lecq. It is clear that Claire has a lot of fun with the brand. It allows her to dip into whatever projects take her fancy from hand sewing leather purses, to sourcing specific pieces from around the globe for clients. At the time of our meeting she was looking to go back to her roots, screen printing on simple cotton tees and vests, which was the starting point from which her brand evolved.
I have a lot in common with Claire, we are both trying to indulge a passion for what we love in the small landscape that is the Island of Jersey which both limits and inspires our endeavours. The more I meet with successful people like Claire the more I start to understand the need to embrace Jersey and make it work for you. It shouldn't cause limitations, you only impose those on yourself. There is so much of Claire within Island Threads; her vision, her ideology and her passion which is undoubtedly why it has become such a successful venture to date. I wait with anticipation to see how Claire stakes Island Threads' and Jersey’s place firmly in the competitive world of fashion!