Ethical threads: A chat with Grumpysuns

Grumpysuns designer Eva Cambourn and business partner Nick Williamson are on a mission to change the fashion industry into a force for good. We asked Cambourn what their vision looks like, what materials they are most passionate about using, and why. 

Interview Carolyn Enting.

How did Grumpysuns, the label and the name come about? 

A friend of mine and now business partner (Nick Williamson) had the idea to launch a homemade skateboard company, of which he had made a couple of boards. One of them had the design ‘Grumpysuns’, basically a grumpy looking sun – you can find an illustrated version of the original design in our first line on shirts. At the same time, I had the idea to do an eco-friendly clothing brand. We thought the two businesses would go together perfectly in which we decided to call our brand Grumpysuns.

When did you launch your label, and where are you both based?

We launched it in 2015 around October, in Dunedin. Nick and I are both from the Tasman region. Nick is based out of Christchurch currently, and I’m back in Motueka.

What is your brand purpose/mission statement?

Our brand’s purpose is to share and encourage our solution and efforts to the problems currently facing New Zealand and the rest of the world. Personally and individually we are frustrated ‘grumpy’ about the self-made issues humanity currently faces, socially, economically and environmentally. We try to target all of them within our brand, environmentally by producing our clothing with eco-friendly materials. Economically by making our clothing as affordable as possible and hopefully making sustainable choices not only for the middle and upper class. And socially by incorporating subtle messages within the designs of our clothing such as “Increase the peace” and “real tidy”.

If you had to describe your point of difference, what would that be?

Apart from our use of eco-friendly materials and subtle subconscious designs, as a brand, we focus a lot of our actual physical movement, what we can do to contribute. Throughout the businesses we use, reduce and recycle as many materials as we can no matter the project, (mostly because we can’t afford a lot of the stuff – you wouldn’t believe how many things that make up our business came from the op shop).

We support all things with a good message in a big way including, other businesses, people, music and art. Whether that’s collaborating, hosting an event or simply turning up to support a good cause.

Our favourite way to support is by hosting gigs showcasing our favourite New Zealand music, as we believe music is the most beautiful way of sharing a message, our favourite being conscious rap and hip-hop, as our favourite artists speak a lot about social inequality and other import issues facing all tiers of our community.

How would you describe your brand aesthetic, and what fabrics do you love working with most, and why?

Surf / Skate / Street. We are your fundamental staple piece. [We love working with] hemp, because this plant is so versatile in so many other areas, food, housing, biodegradable plastics. The use for hemp is limitless and we love being a part voice that is making people aware.

What are you most looking forward to about being part of the Good Sustainable Style Show at NZ Fashion Week?

The experience, I feel completely out of my league but I’m excited to be a part of it!

What will you be showing on the runway?

Our latest collection of hemp staples.

What is your hope for the future of fashion?

That synthetic materials are eliminated completely.

For more on Grumpysuns, visit grumpysuns.nz and to get tickets to the Good Sustainable Style Show, click here

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