Justine Lee

Justine Kate Lee

Fashion Designer

I needed to know more about sustainability in the knitwear industry and why so many clothes ending up in landfill!

Ossian knitwear studio began in 2016, began as a range of cashmere accessories, combining my experience of traditional knitting techniques, with my love of embellishment. Previously to this I had worked in the fashion industry as a knitwear designing for brands such as Ballantyne cashmere, Jaeger, White Stuff, Austin Reed and lastly Laura Ashley. After been made redundant in 2020 I studied a masters degree in textile design at UAL – Chelsea School of Art, specialising in sustainability within the knitwear industry, graduating in 2021.

Convinced the evidence of the damage the fashion industry has caused to the planet I wanted to establish a fashion knitwear range that did not have a negative impact on the earth. I have researched into the farming methods of British sheep farmers using Organic and Regenerative farming techniques and source my wool from farmers that use either these or other ethical farming methods. Using yarns in their natural colours, and only sourced from local British farms. 

I decided using wool fibre from our native sheep breeds was the best way to tackle this problem. Wool is 100% biodegradable.
The Philosophy

As I manufacture all the products by hand knitting or a hand powered domestic knitting machine, my carbon foot print is minimal. As my company grows(hopefully) I may have to outsource the making, this will only be made in the UK by manufacturers that share my concerns for the environment.

I also have a bit of a sheep obsession since my MA, sadly my Twickenham garden is too small to own any but I enjoy regular trips to farms to see the real thing.

Why do so many clothes end up in landfill? 300,000 tons from the UK alone

Knitwear does not need to be washed as frequently as other garments this reduces its carbon foot print and when it is washed there are no plastic micro fibres unlike the manmade fleeces which are so popular at present. There are approx 62 breeds of sheep in the UK, more than any other country, many of these breeds can be traced back through centuries and have evolved to cope with the natural habitat in the UK. To keep this genetic pool for future generations it is important we use the products from these sheep to encourage farmers to keep them, this is why I use breeds such as the Romney, Castlemilk Moorit, and Wensleydales to name just a few. All the garments I sell have a life time guarantee of repair and at the end of their life I will use the garments to upcycle into a new use.

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