Deborah Lyons and Piarvé Wetshi are on a mission to reduce the amount of discarded fabric that goes into landfill. Their latest venture Last Yarn brings great quality textiles back to the marketplace and works with students to help shape the fashion industry of the future.
What inspired Last Yarn? Have you always been into textiles?
Piarvé: I started my career at an interiors company and now work mainly in digital marketing. Deborah is a fashion and footwear designer, so textiles have always been at the heart of both our journeys. Throughout our careers we have seen rolls of great quality fabric lying about in warehouses without any use. We wanted to create a means for people to access these textiles.
Do you have a favourite pattern, fabric-type, or place of origin for textiles?
Deborah: We love sourcing British surplus for the site because the heritage is often easily traceable and obviously, we love all things local too. We are also really passionate about soil-to-soil fabrics. But to be honest, it’s not hard to get any of our team excited about most types of fabrics, and we are lucky to work with suppliers who have such beautiful dead stock that they’re willing to share.
What did you do before Last Yarn and how did it come about?
Piarvé: I work in marketing and fashion education, which ties in really nicely with some of the student initiatives we are doing through the Last Yarn Academy. Deborah is a womenswear designer and creative consultant. Last Yarn is the result of our shared desire to build solutions for the huge amounts of waste we’ve both witnessed during our careers.
Have you always been eco-conscious? Can you tell us more about the environmental impact Last Yarn has had?
Deborah: We’ve both always been extremely “planet” conscious, but it’s a learning curve. Being willing to learn and being open to change is a huge part of what’s needed, though, from the top down across all sectors of fashion. As an industry, we are making progress, but we urgently need to champion new systems and collaborative solutions.
Piarvé: To date, Last Yarn, along with our suppliers, has kept over 250,000 meters of fabric out of landfill and given them a second life. Our suppliers have also been able to generate a new revenue stream by placing value on overstock that was previously seen as a liability.
Are you handy with a sewing machine, rustling up your own soft furnishings and clothes?
Deborah: Piarvé is a wizard with a sewing machine! Despite being a Parson’s graduate and having my own fashion brand, I don’t think anyone wants to see, let alone wear, my machine stitching.
Piarvé: I learned to sew as a teen and still love sewing.
Do you have a favourite west London hang out?
Piarve: Deborah is based in West London, so we spend a lot of time brainstorming around there and have even done some Last Yarn fabric shoots in the area. We live for the cheese straws at Clarke’s and have had many of our brainstorming sessions at Huckletree in White City.
What is your favourite pub, restaurant, and way to while away a weekend in London?
Deborah: Our favourite pub is probably the Pelican on All Saints Road, and our favourite restaurant may be All Nations Vegan House, which is quite near our fabric room in North London.
Piarvé: We both enjoy being outdoors. Debs is often out in the parks with her dog, Olive, and I can often be found at the allotment. I also love making clothes for and with my daughter, which I mostly only have time for on the weekends.
Do you have a favourite textile, fashion, or interior designer?
Deborah: Yes, no, and how long do you have? This is probably the most difficult question you could ask us! Some locals on our list would include: We Are Kin, Ahluwalia, S.S. Daley, and Yinka Ilori.
Where is your favourite place in the world, and why?
Deborah: Lamu in Kenya. I’ve never been anywhere quite like it and never felt so close to nature and the earth. It would be there or home with my family.
Piarvé: I love anywhere with some nature. Especially local places. I actually enjoy rocky beaches too.
Can you tell us about Last Yarn’s pioneering 3D design swatching?
Deborah: This fashion week, we are launching 3D swatching in partnership with Browzwear. Our vision with the Last Yarn digital collection is to revolutionize an existing resource for reuse or resale and to reduce or replace entirely the need for physical swatches. Using these 3D swatches in design programs can also replace the need for multiple physical samples or eliminate the need for samples entirely.
And the Last Yarn Academy?
Piarve: We have learned so much from the new generation of designers we’ve been fortunate enough to work with through Last Yarn Academy, which includes students from Middlesex University and Central Saint Martins. For this new guard, problem-solving around sustainability and fashion ethics are so intuitive that we are constantly challenged and inspired by them. It’s instinctual for them to seek the solutions we need, to see the change we need.
Any plans for world domination? What does Last Yarn have in store down the line?
Deborah: Future-proofing our supply chains requires mobilisation across all sectors of the industry. The Last Yarn dream is world collaboration.
Piarve: Alongside 3D swatching, we have a new mood boarding feature on the site. We’ll be launching a curator’s section too in the coming weeks, where some of our favorite designers can share their personal stories and fabric journeys. And there’s more coming soon.
Find out what’s in store at www.lastyarn.com