This Hat with Tom Stuart
Hey Tom! You’re the founder of This Hat – a startup with plans to give back to the environment through fashion. What’s your missions statement? How does your project work?
Hi! So, This Hat is really focussed on reshaping the relationship between fashion and activism. I feel that the fashion industry is lagging behind in terms of its approach and response to ongoing social and environmental issues and we want to be one of the brands who are looking to change that. In terms of how it works, we design our hats in-house and then produce them here in the UK. For our debut collection, we have partnered with 3 fantastic charities and donate 50% of the profit from every sale to them to support the work they are doing.
You currently sell three hats: One that ‘cleans oceans’ one that ‘fights fires’, and one that ‘plants trees’. What was it that made you choose these three issues? Do you have a background in environmental issues and sustainability?
Well, interestingly, we initially started with just ‘This Hat Fights Fires’! I did the design work and ordered samples in the aftermath of the Australian wildfires in January whilst I was still at university. Whilst witnessing the response on social media to such an atrocious environmental disaster, I think what struck me most was how temporary the attention paid was to what is an ongoing and global crisis. I wanted to create a way to raise awareness and money for the cause but with more of a lasting impact than an Instagram story or Tweet. That’s really what led me to the idea and from there we went on to two more critical climate issues: ocean pollution and deforestation. When you do the research and you talk to the charities, you quickly realise how immediate these problems are – it’s been a real eye opener for me and been a real motivating factor in driving us to grow ThisHat. I studied Law at university. So, in short – no! I’ve always enjoyed designing but in many ways, it’s been a hobby and a passion as opposed to something I considered pursuing as a career. Now, I’m doing it though, it’s incredibly liberating and I can’t really see myself doing anything else.
What have you achieved with the project so far? Could you tell me a bit about the response to your work?
Considering we only started selling hats in November, I’m pleased with what we’ve achieved so far. The response has been really positive and it’s always nice when you see people endorsing a brand and a concept that you’ve created. I’d love to say a big thank you to everyone who has ordered a hat so far and everyone who is spreading the word about us on social media. I think we’re in 6 countries so far, which is really exciting, hopefully we’ll be in every country by this time next year! When you start out, I guess there’s always that level of uncertainty as to whether people are going to like what you’re doing and buy in to your vision. I just feel incredibly grateful for everyone who’s helped us out so far. But, I’m more excited for the future and what we have planned for next year! We’ve got a new collection coming out at the start of next year. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting back to some normality – doing some photoshoots, collaborating more with our charities and really growing ThisHat and our community of contributors and ambassadors in the UK and abroad.
What would you like to offer up as your WFTP hidden gem?
In terms of personal influence, I’m a big fan of what Virgil Abloh has done with his platform and the way he approaches design. There’s a great series by the Agostinho Zinga show on YouTube where he mentors some emerging brands – i’d really recommend it to anyone who’s looking to start their own fashion brand or any product in general. (Link to an episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL09HJ96lPU&t=718s)
Place: The Vaults under Waterloo station. I guess for me this is a pretty special place. It’s one of the most creative atmospheres in London and whilst it’s getting a little more touristy now, I’d recommend anyone to take a walk down there.
Project: I’m a big advocate for everyone having a passion project and a creative outlet.
Here, are a couple of friends who are doing cool stuff:
@noissueofficial – Audrey Etro
@femnarrativa – Elisa Monje Jelfs
Cheers Tom, it’s been great to hear about your project. Please give us your links and social media channels so we can follow what you do!
Thanks for having me on! It’s an honour to be featured 🙂
Interview by Alex Wilson 15/12/20