- Postponed and canceled clothes orders during lockdown have made buyers more conscious than ever of where they buy their fashion products from.
- In Europe, sustainable fashion startups are rising to meet that demand, offering clothes for rent, eco-friendly repair, and organic, vegan products for both men and women.
- Business Insider picked 10 that you should know about right now, including one that makes swimwear from ocean waste.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Sustainability in fashion is this season’s hot topic. During COVID-19, buyers have seen orders canceled or postponed, and the shift to e-commerce has made many people rethink where they buy their clothes. Consumers are now more aware than ever of where, and how, their products are made.
If you’re looking for a more planet-friendly way to be on-trend, there are lots of European fashion startups finding ways to weave sustainability into people’s everyday lives. From a company that makes swimwear from ocean waste to a retailer that plants 10 trees for every purchase, these are our picks of the top 10 sustainable fashion start-ups in Europe, picked for their sustainable credentials and potential for growth.
Pursuit The Label
Pursuit The Label is a London-based swimwear brand that turns regenerated ocean waste into luxury statement swimsuits. The brand launched in 2018 with the aim of fighting marine pollution by creating its swimsuits from Econyl, a nylon alternative made 100% from recycled fishing nets and other consumer waste.
Its designs have featured on popular dating show Love Island, and its London-based founders, entrepreneurs Annabel Humphrey and Hannah Daykin, recently told the WTiN Podcast they intend to take the brand worldwide.
By Rotation aims to to cut waste in the fashion industry by letting people rent one another's clothes. It assigns each item a score based on its sustainability, and has partnered with an eco-friendly cleaning and repair service to restore older items. It has more than 20,000 users, including Camille Charriere, Stacey Dooley, Jessie Bush, and Monikh Dale.
The company saw its user base grow 60% during lockdown and amass more than 10,000 new followers on Instagram.
The Conscious Company
Mother and daughter Cheryl and Laura Hooper founded The Conscious Company, which offers a range of independently designed organic, T-shirts, and sweatshirts. The brand launched with an early collection of items which feature coronavirus-related slogans such as "2m Please Hun" and "The NHS is for Everyone," with 50% of profit from sales supporting the Emergency COVID-19 Appeal set up by NHS Charities Together.
Their clothing is organic and vegan: Other slogans include "Turning the Tide on Plastic" and "Change Before the World Does."
London's Public Fibre is a fashion marketplace that curates a selection of sustainable fashion brands for men: Its goal is "to make a collective of desirable brands that are doing good."It was born after its founders realized they couldn't find anywhere to buy premium sustainable menswear.
Public Fibre also works with a variety of charities and NGOs and with each purchase, they plant 10 trees, aiding in reforestation to fight the destruction of ecosystems.
SupplyCompass, founded in 2016, is a production software company for the fashion industry that aims to simplify sustainable sourcing and make the supply chain more cost-effective. Through the platform, brands design sustainable collections, source materials, collaborate on sampling, and manage production. Brands can also access the SupplyCompass network of manufacturers and a team of production experts.
SupplyCompass now has a network of more than 200 manufacturing partners, having visited and assessed each one before they can join. Backed by venture capital firms and businesses, the company had a 400% increase in business enquiries during the coronavirus lockdown and launched a guide that walks businesses through the differences between organic and conventional material, and what standards they should achieve. Companies sign up via a subscription service, and prices vary based on the size of the team and the value of goods sourced.
Zurich-based tech company meepl, founded by a team of engineering students, carries out a 3D body scan through your smartphone to help you get more from online shopping. Their tech requires just two images for a body scan, and uses both visual computing and deep neural networks. In a bid to help with sustainable shopping habits, meepl lets buyers assess size and fit of clothes within a virtual changing room. This stops them buying more than one size, returning items, or throwing them away. Stores can sign up to have these changing rooms built into their websites.
Founded by Marilyne Kékéli in 2018, MAMATER is a jewellery brand that uses purely earth-sourced materials, such as brass and silver alloys, and has created a range in partnership with Paris-based goldsmiths. The newest collection, Les Sculptures, which launched for pre-order at the end of July, contains a selection of natural resin pieces, dyed with water-based acrylic and flecked with gold.
L'Estrange London is a direct-to-consumer brand that aims to slim men's wardrobes down to the essentials. The average man leaves 70% of his clothes to gather dust, according to the company's own research, so L'Estrange strives for comfortable, everyday staples designed to be worn in any setting. They offer a wardrobe of just six pieces - the thinking is that fewer items means fewer decisions, less impact on the planet, and more time to focus on what matters in how you dress.
The L'Estrange design uses only renewable or recycled materials to ensure longevity and invests in advanced sustainable fabrics. Its latest swim short uses regenerated nylon and recycled marine plastics. L'Estrange's Lifecare program also repairs customers L'Estrange products for free and recycles items through its brand partner ReGain.
Air & Grace
British footwear brand Air & Grace is one of the fastest-growing women's footwear businesses in the UK. Created by former fashion buyer Claire Burrows, it was founded with the belief that women's shoes should be as comfortable as they are covetable.
Centred on sustainable shopping habits, Air & Grace offers collections of styles produced in small quantities. As a member of The Leather Working Group, the brand helps regulate the leather industry and ensure ethical practices at every level of the business. They use family-run factories in Portugal and Spain, and they have recently launched a vegan collection, approved by PETA.
Hirestreet is a fashion rental business that describes itself as a combination of ASOS and Booking.com - and in a growing market, it's one to watch. Its aim is to let you rent clothes for big occasions when you don't want to spend lots on something new.
Hirestreet stocks premium high-street retailers such as Keepsake, Lavish Alice, and Talulah. According to its own research, it has saved customers more than £650,000 by hiring instead of buying - and the manufacturing saving amounts to 66,000 kg of carbon emissions.