Whether it comes to food, wellness, travel or fashion, consumer involvement with all things sustainable is now at an all time high. According to a report by research company The Hartman Group, 87% of the respondents said that sustainability-related concerts impact their values, attitudes and actions.
As we predicted, in fashion, the discourse around sustainability has also escalated in 2018. Global powerhouses Nike, Burberry and H&M joined Stella McCartney by signing the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, aiming to reduce global waste from fashion by recycling raw materials and products. Sports giant Adidas also announced ambitious goals for the future, hoping to use only recycled plastic by 2024.
But it’s not only the giants that declare ambitious green goals. If anything, emerging fashion labels are the ones created with sustainability values at heart, setting out to fix fashion’s broken ways of working and educate people about the importance of conscious consumption.
“The environment and our health are inextricably linked – you can’t have one without the other. Unfortunately, the way that we’ve been living over the past few decades hasn’t recognised that,” says Julie Ngov, founder and CEO of sustainable activewear brand Adrenna. “But I feel really hopeful because there’s been a growing recognition of environmental issues.”
After moving to London some eight years ago, the Australian, a lawyer by trade, found herself with a job in the City, working between 40-80 hours per week. “I started to have some chronic neck and back injuries and started taking up yoga and fitness to manage the pain,” she explains. “I began buying lots of sportswear but couldn’t really find anything that stood up to my ethical and sustainable ideals. Coming from Australia, I found that in the UK there were different attitudes when it came to the environment. Environmentalism has been a really important part of the way I think about things and I thought there must be a better way of buying sportswear.”
".. because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, it just didn’t occur to me that what I was doing was crazy.“
- Julie Ngov, Adrenna
So she set out to fill this gap in the market by launching sustainable performance activewear brand Adrenna. “It was difficult but also, in a way, weirdly easy,” she says when I ask her what was it like starting a fashion brand with no formal fashion education. “Because at the beginning I was so naïve about the processes that I was completely shameless about the types of things I was asking. I was calling out suppliers really randomly and asking them whatever I wanted to know. And you will find that people are surprisingly helpful if you have the guts to pick up the phone. And because I didn’t know what I didn’t know, it just didn’t occur to me that what I was doing was crazy."
Adrenna’s products, including leggings, sport bras and tees, are made from the highest quality technical fabrics, using zero-waste manufacturing processes. That said, Ngov knows that sustainability alone is not a strong enough driver to make people invest in environmentally-friendly brands. The look is crucial too. “The aesthetic is really important if you’re doing something in fashion. I don’t think there’s any point to create something if it’s not aesthetically pleasing and stylish,” she says. You can tell by the design. Adrenna’s shapes are ultra flattering, extremely comfy and empowering, featuring popping colour combinations such as navy, magenta and icy blue.
The designs, shapes and colours are limited intentionally, in line with Adrenna’s sustainability values. “One of fashion’s massive problems is the amount of clothes that we produce. If we produce less it will be better for all,” explains Ngov. To ensure that the brand is as eco friendly as possible, while also provide choice to its audience, Adrenna has a customisation offering, which lets women create the type of sportswear product they want by adjusting the style and colours of the item.
For example, sports bras can come with a fixed or a hook & eye clasp, while leggings can be either short or regular length. “We want to make sure that you’ve got that adjustable fit. Because if it fits you better it’s going to last longer, and that’s good for sustainability,” says Ngov.
Instead of being driven by the regular fashion cycle, collections for Adrenna launch when the brand can push its sustainability credentials further, satisfy and surprise consumers. The startup is currently working on its second collection for spring/summer 2019 season with the ambition to incorporate recycled fabrics from post and pre-consumer waste.
With consumers not only choosing to spend their money on brands with sustainable practices but also calling out the ones that don’t adopt environmentally-friendly processes, Adrenna’s future looks bright.
If you want to find more about conscious consumerism, join Julie Ngov and a bunch of stellar entrepreneurs on 13th September 2018 for No Planet B – a discussion about sustainability. Find out more and book here.
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