'A clothing company with a social responsibility'
More Lord is a clothing company with a difference. Stylish clothing, ethically sourced, all with a particular focus on supporting and equipping those who are homeless.
Interview with founder and CEO JD Vance, a member of The Gate, a Baptist church in Reading
Can you introduce us to More Lord?
More Lord started as a simple idea about betterment of ourselves, others less fortunate and the environment around us. The brand has quickly taken shape as an ethical clothing company with a social responsibility and a big beating heart, where we all want to make a difference and constantly question how we can do or be 'more'.
This attitude guides our decision making process, where we source our clothing from, who we do business with and who we can help as a result. Our business model is simple: for every piece of clothing we sell, we give clothing back to the homeless.
I spent over two years researching ethical clothing manufactures and Christian fashion brands and found there are a few companies that sell biblical statement t-shirts and hoodies, which is great. However I felt there was a space to create a fashion brand that Christians and non-Christians would both enjoy, and would not be out of place at London fashion week.
How and why did it come about?
To get the full picture, you have to go back a decade to understand why More Lord was created. After living in London for 10 years, my then employer offered me a position in Singapore.
A few years later the global financial crisis took hold and a lot of people were made redundant, myself included. I returned home from Singapore and upon arriving, I decided I would use my business skills from the past 20 years to see if I could help worthy causes or people in need. It helped that my Mum has run the main homeless centre CIRDIC (Churches in Reading Drop In Centre), in my home town of Reading for the last 13 years. A good place to start I thought!
If you ask Mum what the most needed items for the homeless are, she will say clothes, and more specifically, underwear.
After much thinking I had an epiphany and realised that if I worked in the clothes industry, I would have better access and could create a business model which would lend itself to generating much needed clothes for the homeless. I also love fashion and have been known to be a bit eccentric with my own wardrobe. So a great match and much more fun than spreadsheets.
That is why More Lord was born. Our business model is simple: for every item you purchase we donate a piece of clothing to the homeless.
I've realised homelessness is not going away, so here at More Lord we are about better equipping people.
How ethical is More Lord Clothing?
We work with suppliers who knit their own fabrics, and dye them with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) approved chemicals, certified to OekoTex 100 Class I standard and conforming to REACH (a European Union regulation concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals). Organic certified fabrics are dyed in a zero-discharge dye house, where all the water is recycled in a closed-loop system.
Our suppliers are active contributors to the International Working Group on the GOTS. They are certified under the Global Organic Textile Standard and the Global Recycle Standard. Starting with the sourcing of raw materials, they ensure full traceability of all fibres, choosing low impact cotton, Tencel® Lyocel, bamboo viscose and recycled polyester.
We now provide high quality, stylish ethical clothing to clients all over the world. I’ve just returned from Miami where we have just launched More Lord USA. Clients kindly send us pics in from all over the world and More Lord has reached as far as northern Australia to the mountains of Pakistan. We are aiming to launch in Canada and Australia in 2019. Which is very exciting!!
How has it developed?
The business seems to have developed in two directions one is online sales as we expected. However we have also now set up “More Lord Cloth”, to support requests from church and charities interested in their own ethical apparel with their logos embellished. Our cloth is manufactured in India mainly, and is the most ethically certified cloth in the world…”probably”.
We’ve invested in our own machinery for in-house embellishment, so we can work with individual organisations providing their own branded cloth, all the way through to setting up their your own fashion label and it’s all ethically certified.
So you can provide a customised service for churches and charities?
Yes indeed, we are currently working with numerous charities. One example is a charity based in Birmingham that supports vulnerable young ladies and we have worked from A-Z in setting up their own fashion brand called “Listen Threads”. This has included logo design, building their online store, labels and clothes selection, to photo shoots. We have worked with them every step of the way and they're launching soon. We are currently working on their social media strategy for roll out.. it’s all very exciting and great to see the input and response from the young ladies involved in the project!
Aren’t some of your clothes made out of plastic?
Yes it's true, we have a range called “From Plastic to Fantastic”. We all know plastic is a global problem, so we all need to get involved where we can. We took the salvage off cuts from our organic textile production, shredded them and turned them into soft cotton fibres, we then took recycled plastic bottles and created a cotton polyester blend. We then spin the blended fibres into fine yarn, from which we produce knitted and woven fabrics, which we turned into 100 per cent recycled organic tee’s, hoodies and totes!!
What are your hopes for More Lord?
I would like to see More Lord cloth in every country in the world that will accept us. I would really love to bring More Lord to the high street through a shop and support café. Probably called MORE CAFÉ... watch this space!
The other side of More Lord is our commitment to the homeless. We have just delivered a pampering day at the main homeless centre in Reading, where we invited high end restaurants, hair salons, nails technicians and professional over the cloths massagers in. We pampered those using the centre, giving them all hair washes and cuts, trimming their eyebrows, doing their nails, over clothing massage, new clothes, hats, bags, and a gift bag. It was a lovely day and all involved really enjoyed themselves.
We are currently working on several engineering projects to develop ideas that will assist homeless people. We are hoping to launch them by the end of the year.
We will be on BBC South Today on Friday, 20 July, as were delivering another pampering day, so God is blessing the business, as we bless others.
Visit More Lord here: morelord.com
JD Vance is also happy for people to send him questions directly: firstname.lastname@example.org