Our student ambassadors have carefully curated lists of professionals who have made a significant impact on sustainability in their industry.
From Finnish CEOs to entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka, the professionals hand-picked on this list come from a variety of professions and countries.
We continue adding people on the lists that deserve to be noticed for the good they have done for nature.
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Female Sustainable Fashion Entrepreneurs in Europe
This list includes some of the top female sustainable fashion innovators in Europe.
They have been selected based on the following criteria: they are women who design fashion lines that take fabrics, design, production, and transportation into account with the purpose of increasing carbon handprint and build into the local community to educate and promote green fashion.
Valerie Goode is the founder of Kitty Ferreira, London. She became inspired to make a difference in the fashion industry after living in China for a year and seeing first hand how severe the pollution was from the industry. Valerie returned to London determined to create eco-friendly fashion.
Her clothes are dyed with natural ingredients like pomegranate and onion skins to reduce the production of toxic dyes. She is careful to use peace silks which allow the silk-worms to live after harvesting their silk. Valerie takes inspiration from her Trinidad roots, saying that the lifestyles there present solutions to many of the problems in the Western world.
She has presented talks to the University of the Arts, London College of Communication BA students, on how to manage sustainable, ethical fashion businesses and how to positively impact the industry.
She has partaken in Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Brighton Fashion Week and has had her lines on show in Milan and LA. Featured in Tatler Magazine, The Voice Newspaper, The Helm (Australia), Pride Magazine, The Guardian, Culture Darling, My Fashion Magazine, and more.
Awards & Affiliations: Ethical Fashion Forum, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London Fusion, Sustain RCA, Royal College of Art.
Here is a link to a blog-post she has written: http://kittyferreira.co.uk/how-clean-are-your-clothes/#more-2838
Lizzie is a fashion designer, consultant, researcher, and project manager focusing on sustainability.
She is the founder and Creative Director of Antiform, a fashion label based in Bristol. Its aim, she says, is to “push the boundaries of ethical, sustainable design by using locally sourced reclaimed materials and mixing fashion forward shapes with heritage craft materials and processes.” Her designs use reclaimed materials which are sourced locally.
Besides Antiform, Lizzie has set up and run several enterprises in fashion and textiles.
She has also worked to develop teaching approaches for sustainable design with universities, schools, and colleges across the UK, and works as an expert and community partner on a number of research projects. She believes green business models are a tool for development rather than a limitation.
Founder of Madia & Matilda, UK. Upcycled vintage fabrics and end-of-line fabrics, sourced from sustainable factories. The brand uses defective, end-of-line, and recycled fabrics, all sourced locally, emphasising respect for the planet through slow-fashion.
Shalize enjoys taking on new interns to teach them skills on sustainable fashion. Working on initiatives with local universities and colleges to bring production back to the UK is something Shalize is dedicated to. She also runs 6-week recycling workshops in Gloucester, teaching people how to repair, alter, and upcycle their clothes.
Shalize’s blog on sustainability: https://madiamatilda.blogspot.com/2018/08/the-effects-of-fast-fashion-culture.htm
Tamsin and Seraphina Davis
Founders of Nancy Dee, London. All clothes designed and manufactured in the UK, using renewable materials like organic cotton, bamboo, and soya – which is recycled from the waste of soy products like tofu and soya milk.
The sisters, who co-founded Dancy Dee, are interested in creating an online marketplace portal for start-up companies and young designers to find ethical, small-scale suppliers, and thus help make green fashion companies more common in the industry.
Awards: The Manufacturer Top 100 2016, Top 20 Green Projects 2015, UK Manufacturing Awards Nominee
Cora Hilts & Natasha Tucker
Co-founders of Reve en Vert, London, an online green fashion boutique that designs long-lasting pieces. They believe that you do not need to cut corners that harm the environment to create a profitable and sustainable business model.
Their brand values are curation, aesthetics, and longevity, and their ethos is “honest luxury”. “From the get go,” says Cora, “sustainability was the core of what we did.” Their lines are all organic, re-made, local, and fair.
Cora believes that empowerment comes through education, and hosts REV Talks events at Soho House on sustainability and natural beauty. Her Master’s degree was in Environmental Politics and Sustainability.
Besides their fashion company, they have a Conscious Christmas pop-up shop that encourages people to buy gifts like adopting an endangered animal through WWF or a gift certificate to a sustainable restaurant. They believe that sustainability should be a lifestyle choice in all spheres of your life, not just fashion.
Founder of Beaumont Organic, based in Manchester. The company uses organic cotton, Lyocell flannel, rayon, and other fabrics approved by GOT. They also use AZO dyes, dye minimally, and source all materials locally.
Hannah was inspired to contribute to the carbon handprint on her travels in Fiji as a young adult, where she witnessed the simplistic eco-friendly lifestyle of the locals.
Hannah’s core values are respect, trust, loyalty, integrity, and gratitude, and she is dedicated to transparency in her brand. Educating customers on the importance of green fashion is close to her heart and was especially important in the early days of her business, when awareness of the fashion industry’s carbon footprint was relatively unknown. She also loves home renovations and implementing eco-friendly materials into her designs.
Best Organic Textile Award.
Founder and CEO of the swimwear label allSisters, based in Barcelona, which uses fabrics 80% recycled polyamide made from fishing nets and other nylon waste, that is soft and durable. Minimal, geometric designs are used to reduce wasting fabric, and everything is produced and sourced locally.
Patricia believes that functionality and design need not be in opposition to sustainability, and designs swimwear with active, sporty women in mind, producing pieces that are OEKO-Tex certified.
Patricia is also a Studio manager at Hunter & Gatti photographers, and participated in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
Claudia Magrina Monaco & Mercedes Escoda
Claudia worked for seven years in Corporate Social Responsibility and was unsatisfied with the transparency of large companies in the fashion industry, so she decided that she needed to be a part of the change herself. So together with Mercedes Escoda, she co-founded Almasanta, based in Barcelona.
They believe that fashion should be trendy, ecological, handmade, locally sourced, and made from recycled or organic materials. Almasanta provides an online platform for sustainable brands around the world, so consumers can select brands according to their geographical region, reducing carbon emissions. They also have their own stores in London, Berlin, and Barcelona.
Founder of Verse, Amsterdam. She worked in corporate fashion for a decade before deciding to contribute to a sustainable fashion future.
The clothes at Verse use natural fibres, and are vegan, ethical, recycled, and eco-friendly. She wants to help conscious people make the right decisions for the planet. Verse also sells products for other areas of life including products for around the house and toiletries to help customers have an all-round green lifestyle.
Ciara has participated in the Modafabriek talks on sustainability, and was involved in the Dutch Sustainable Fashion Week which aimed to educate young fashion lovers on building a green fashion industry.
Anna Bronowski and Juliana Holtzheimer
Ana Bronowski and Juliana Holtzheimer are co-founders of Jan ‘n June, based in Hamburg, Germany.
They believe in making fashion that is both sustainable and affordable, using minimalistic styles. Their fabrics are exclusively recycled or organic, GOT certified, made in Poland by a family-owned business, and each piece contains information about the sourcing and production to ensure full transparency. They also pay attention to the sustainability of their office supplies and packaging.
Anna and Juliana’s mission is to create unique fashion with a clear conscience.
They have also contributed to DK Publishing House’s ‘Minimal Fashion’ project, educating readers on how to be minimalist, eco-friendly AND stylish.
Award: Winner in ‘Best Designer’ category of the PETA Vegan Fashion Award 2015
Carita Peltonen is an experienced sustainability ambassador, deeply and truly committed to helping the environment. She believes that “no company can go without a conscience anymore and by doing good, businesses can really thrive to make a difference”.
She is founder of TouchPoint Oy, a Finnish company founded in 2008, whose business has been based on responsibly and ecologically produce workwear. In addition to workwear, TouchPoint’s philosophy is to find new uses for good-quality clothes sent for recycling. When a textile reaches the end of its life, it is recycled into new fibre and clothes through technology. Cloth sent for defibration can even be recycled into new cloth eight consecutive times. When the textiles can no longer be used for other purposes, the material can be utilised as a composite material for patio furniture, for instance.
The Nordic Council has raised TouchPoint as one of the ten leading textile companies in Nordic countries using the circular economy.
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Sustainable Fashion: Making green clothes a reality
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is the second largest producer of CO₂ emissions after the oil industry. This is largely due to a culture of fast fashion, in which consumers buy new wardrobes every season and throw tons of clothes away each year. Sustainable fashion initiatives aim to change this culture, by producing quality garments that last a lifetime and are produced with materials and dyes that do not harm the environment. Over the past decade, sustainable fashion has been growing, largely due to pioneers including the designers and CEO’s celebrated on Fairforce’s List of Top Female Sustainable Fashion Innovators in Europe. However, there is still a way to go before sustainable fashion is the norm, which is why learning from these professionals can provide a great example for how we as a modern society can implement green fashion on a larger scale.
Using organic and natural fibres that do not require chemicals and industrial processes to be produced is the first step towards creating sustainable fashion. This means avoiding synthetic and semi-synthetic fibres like polyester, viscose, and nylon. There are a range of natural fibres to choose from, with varying pros and cons.
Valerie Goode, founder of Kitty Ferreira, prefers using peace silks, which are produced in a way that do not kill the silk worms after extracting the silk. The fabric is light, comfortable and chic, yet has little impact on the environment. Peace silk produces almost zero waste and has a low water footprint, making it an all-round eco-friendly material to use. Another benefit of silk in general is that it can easily be coloured with low-impact dyes. Silk is also strong and durable, reducing the need for the fast fashion culture. The disadvantage is that peace silk is about twice as expensive as regular silk, making it difficult for lower-income consumers to purchase. However, for those who can afford it, peace silk’s durability and quality make the extra money worth it in the long-run.
Tasmin and Seraphina Davis, co-founders of Nancy Dee, use fabrics made from renewable materials like organic cotton, bamboo and soya. It’s important to source these fibres carefully, since they can contribute to major deforestation, hence the emphasis on organic.
Bamboo fabrics are similar in softness to silk and do not irritate the skin as fabrics like hemp sometimes can. Bamboo fabrics are also great at absorbing moisture, keeping you cool and fresh throughout the day. However, they tend to shrink more than cotton fabrics and wrinkle more easily, so special cleaning processes are recommended.
Soy fabric is advantageous for its breathable, anti-bacterial and UV-resistant properties, making it a great material for sports clothing. It’s also highly absorbent, meaning natural dyes are retained well by it, as with organic cotton. The best part about Soy fabric is that it’s machine-washable, light, comfortable, and wrinkle-resistant, making it a very practical material for everyday clothing. The downside is that Soy fabric is not as strong as cotton or hemp, but it’s extremely biodegradable and so will not contribute to harmful waste dumps.
Hannah Beaumont-Laurencia of Beaumont Organic, enjoys using lyocell flannel among other fabrics. Lyocell fabric, also known as Tencel, is breathable with a similar texture to cotton, yet stronger than cotton and can handle all weathers. Lyocell fabric is cheaper than silk yet provides the same durability and comfort. It’s primarily composed from wood like oak or birch, so is biodegradable. However, it’s contribution to deforestation has raised debate over how environmentally friendly it is overall, meaning that sourcing is once again critical for producing genuinely sustainable clothing.
Using materials which would have otherwise been dumped to produce new fabrics is a technique used by many designers. Lizzie Harrison, the Creative Director of Antiform, uses reclaimed materials, which are left-overs from the excess manufacturing of major fashion labels, to craft her pieces. Shalize Nicholas of Madia & Matilda, does this as well as using recycled fabrics. Fishing nets are turned into recycled nylon fabrics that are perfect for Patricia Caballero’s allSisters swimwear lines.
These examples show that sustainable fabric does not need to mean discomfort, lack of style or excessive prices. It’s simply a matter of choosing the fibres that work best for you, as well as the planet.
The industrial dying process of clothes involves producing enormous CO2 emissions, as well as toxins which remain in the clothes and often end up in the oceans. Thus, changing the dying process and switching to natural dyes can greatly reduce the fashion carbon footprint, the quality of the clothes for our skin, and reduce harmful waste products that pollute nature.
Pomegranate and onion skins are Valeria Goode’s choice of natural dyes, which produce rich yellows and oranges but also indigos and greens when mixed with other natural dyes. Soya, too, is a great natural dye, and is used frequently by Tasmin and Seraphina Davis in their clothes lines. Hannah Beaumont-Laurencia uses natural dyes but points out that the key to sustainable dying is to dye minimally. This is partially why the majority of Patricia Caballero’s designs can only be found in black and white. However, there is an array of things that can be used to produce colour naturally, including carrots, nuts, woods, berries, flowers, herbs and spices.
Factory to Closet – all the inbetweens
Besides the garments themselves, there are many elements to consider when producing sustainable fashion. This includes sourcing materials locally to reduce transportation emissions, as all of the above mentioned designers do, as well as considering the delivery of ordered items and choice of packaging materials. Some of these women only sell their clothes to customers within their region, or have set up branching stores in other countries which source and produce locally. Knowing exactly where and how fabrics are produced is important to them, and is included in the labels of their clothes for full transparency. In addition, the use of plastic is completely removed from their packaging, and their pop-up stores are organised to be as eco-friendly as possible.
Additionally, the designs themselves play a role, as simpler patterns produce less off-cuts. Creatively designing clothes which incorporate off-cuts from previous lines is also one way these women have used design principles to make greener clothes.
I think what we can learn from these women is that sustainable fashion does not need to be bland, homogeneous or linear. There are a variety of options to choose from, be it the fabrics, the dyes or all the inbetweens, meaning that one sustainable brand can look completely different to another. Walking around in identical hemp sacks need not be our future. These women have demonstrated that flair, style and elegance can still be expressed through sustainable designs which are timeless in aesthetics and worthy of a lifetime of use. Fairforce congratulates these women for their inspiring work in revolutionising the fashion industry towards greener business models and a healthier planet.