09 March 2020

Cherished Pieces

Written by Published in Good Brands

Sublime speaks to Sarah of Cherished Pieces, a niche family business dedicated to slow fashion.

Mother of three and headteacher Sarah Parish always had an interest in children’s clothing.
Toying with a career change, Sarah’s initial research highlighted the detrimental effects of fashion on the environment. 

Despite increasing awareness on thoughtful consumption, we are still buying more clothes than we need. While figures vary country to country, a whopping 85% of clothing and textile waste in the US alone continues to be deposited in landfill.

A lesson of love

“I began harking back to my granny’s tales of the necessity of upcycling when she was a young girl”, Sarah explains. “It is from her stories, particularly during the war, that has inspired me.”

With these memories, Cherished Pieces was born.

“I want to portray the message that garments, even worn ones, are still very much cherished pieces.”


Cherished Pieces invites its clients to find pre-loved textiles from your home. Ideally, the fabrics you choose could have some meaning to the family, whether it is a grandparent’s vintage suit hidden away at the back of a wardrobe, or a loved but outgrown dress. These will then be reinvented into garments for your children.

“A piece of your past for a piece of their future.”

This concept will especially appeal if you have limited sewing experience or are too time poor to make your own upcycling garments for your children, but like the idea of rediscovering and appreciating garments from your family’s history.

TEXT TygerShortsModelledAll of the items are hand finished with love by a small team of seamstresses who finish the garments.

If you like the designs that Cherished Pieces use but don’t have your own materials to use, then you can choose from Alf-Phi, the off-the-peg collection.

Carefully-chosen, used fabrics are sourced from local vintage and thrift shops before being stitched into Alf-Phi’s upcycled children’s clothes collection.

“We always strive to save items from increasing landfill. When sourcing our fabrics we consider quality and the size of the piece that will meet our design requirements. We also look for items that have little details, such as appliques or quirky patterns, that can be incorporated into new design concepts.”

Cherished Pieces really is a family business. Not only is it inspired by Sarah’s granny, her mum Kim is one of the seamstresses and her father is the bookkeeper and technology expert. Meanwhile, across the pond, her cousin Tia runs the USA branch of Alf-Phi.

Imperfect is perfect

With her passion for education, Sarah wants her young customers to understand the effects of textiles on the environment and the alternative choices they can make. To achieve this, Sarah is developing a children’s book. This story features the upcycled, reclaimed soft toy character Wonky Rabbit, who is Cherished Pieces’ mascot and who you can also purchase in the online shop.

Wonky Rabbit is in a perfect position to help convey an important message, as Sarah explains. “Imperfect is perfect. Wonky Rabbit provides as much joy as the typical ‘perfect’ children’s toy.”

In most fashion houses, 15% of purchased fabric still ends up on most fashion manufacturer's cutting room floors. While this high waste rate is tolerated by many brands, it isn’t by the team at Cherished Pieces.

Wonky Rabbit is the solution to the brand’s zero-waste policy, using all the fabric offcuts and scraps to make the soft toy’s stuffing and accessories.

“All decisions regarding Cherished Pieces come from a sustainability angle. Both in the UK and USA we source only sustainable fabrics. We try to do so as locally as possible in order to support local communities and small businesses.”

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Timeless design

Timelessness is an important part of their sustainability philosophy, as Sarah adds.

“If a garment is made to be timeless, it will outlive the trends and can be worn for longer.”

New designs are occasionally influenced and shaped by the desires of customers, a personal touch that the team are happy to include. “One customer sent us an image of a particular style of dress and asked us to create a similar garment for her daughter from one of mummies old dresses. This design is now the Nelli dress found in our collection.”

Cherished Piece’s bestselling item is the Tilly dress, a traditional heritage dress that boasts a peter pan collar, defined yoke, and long sleeves. Available in sizes from two to six years, it showcases two of your different pre-loved garments that complement one another.

A stitch in time

Sarah hopes to sell the Cherished Pieces readywear collection in designated independent stores globally. In the meantime she is promoting the brand at sustainable markets across the UK. 

According to WRAP UK if you extend the life of any garment by just nine more months, you will reduce its environmental impact by a whopping 20-30%. As more niche upcycling businesses like Cherished Pieces take initiative, the old adage “a stich in time saves nine” can salvage our wastefulness while unearthing opportunities.





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