The green economy depends on the innovative entrepreneurs that fuel it – Sublime introduces six individuals who have gone above and beyond in sustainable business this season
Building a sustainable fashion brand was set to be a challenge from the very beginning for Ines Karu-Salo. Motivated to make a difference, the co-founder and chief marketing officer exited her parenting goods chain Mothercare Baltics and dedicated herself to contributing to sustainable development through building partnerships, blogging and redesigning fashion industry.
Her blog became sign2act.eu, an informative hub full of industry documentaries tackling topics surrounding sustainability. And in 2015, KiRiVOO was born. A multi-award-winning, sustainable clothing and jewellery brand based in the EE and emerging in the UK, it’s a one-stop shop for timeless and unique products. Products are responsibly made to last using certified eco-friendly materials, and created on demand in Estonia, Karu-Salo’s home country. Organic cotton, organic/peace silk and 100% recycled metals are at the fore of the collection, with jewellery manufactured using 3D-printing technology that guarantees a higher quality product – that means using less energy and water in the long run, thus having a much lower impact on the environment.
Karu-Salo believes that sustainability is all about the 360-degree approach, taking a look at what can be done, and what can be improved. She has worked hard to build trustworthy relations with all brand partners and continually pushes for a fully transparent supply chain. And last but not least, KiRiVOO plants a tree with each item sold, to help get us closer to net zero targets.
In 1996, Sandra Walker’s family moved to India. Having worked in the fashion industry for years – both as a buyer and designer – this was her dream come true. Surrounded by vibrant colours and textiles, she discovered a small design studio that would soon become sustainable fashion brand Nova India.
From the very beginning, Walker wanted to use exclusively natural fabrics, with no wastage and detrimental impact on the environment caused by the processes and dyes. ‘I sourced the ends of fabric rolls so that our clothes would have a uniqueness, which my customers still appreciate today. I travelled across the country looking for the perfect textiles, visiting weaving sheds and block printing workshops trying to learn as much as I could about these ancient skills,’ she explains. What she found was a passion and pride in artisanal history that has been handed down through generations – be it hand-printing complex patterns on silk in Gujarat using indigo plant dye, communities weaving wool from the sheep reared in their village or families in the countryside embroidering shawls while their crops grow, each craft was in rhythm with its surroundings and respectful of its environment.
The question was, how does one sustain heritage? Printing communities had traditionally established themselves near rivers as running water is needed in the dyeing process. Some of those rivers are now dry, either due to irrigation upstream or climate change. The older generations in the rural villages are finding that their children can obtain more lucrative work in the cities. Nova India supports and promotes as many of these skills as possible – as part of their production process, they discuss ideas with craftsmen, donate sewing machines to allow local women to make a living in their studios, creating bags from recycled silk saris, and spread the beauty of the art with their products.
Founder and managing director of British Recycled Plastic Jason Elliott makes a return to this year’s list, having featured in the Top Six Sustainable Entrepreneurs for 2021.
Elliott launched the company in 2009 after working in the sustainable housing renovation industry and realising the versatile potential and environmental benefits of recycled plastic. Since then, British Recycled Plastic has gone from strength to strength, and the last 12 months have seen further innovative developments within the Yorkshire-based business.
Inclusivity has always been central to the company’s ethos, and it has recently expanded its range to include an additional wheelchair-accessible picnic table.
There are plans for the company to move into a new commercial area, to facilitate the development of a brand-new product that will highlight recycled plastic’s unique resilience in an aquatic environment. And in perfect timing, what with accessible outdoor space becoming more and more important to all of us.
Elliott has implemented and maintained a culture of diversity and flexibility across the business, which he believes is at the core of its continued success. As a progressive employer, he is dedicated to investing in his employee’s growth and potential, going above and beyond to maximise employee wellbeing and nurture individual creativity.
This year promises to be an exciting time for the company, as it continues to embrace new opportunities and applications for recycled plastic, creating truly sustainable products for a cleaner environment and healthier planet.
With an MA in Fashion Textiles from London’s Central Saint Martins and over twenty years of experience working as a designer of embroidery internationally, it’s no wonder Emma Reichenbach has fallen in love with expressive fashion design. ‘I love vintage cross stitch embroidery for the digital, decipherable look of the front of the design, but even more so for the wild ‘wrong side’ of the embroidery. It can resemble ancient symbols or runic languages.
To me, the cloth is coded with meaning and histories both visible and hidden,’ she says. Coded Cloth follows that train of thought. To freely explore the elements of clothing and textile design that inspire her most, Reichenbach has focused on patchwork and embroidery. Her brand is modern folklore womenswear, re-fashioning the past since 2020, aimed at those who value craftsmanship, self-expression and are sensitive to the human stories woven into vintage textiles. ‘I launched Coded Cloth for women for whom quality, history and rarity are essential attributes in the clothes they choose and love, combined with the satisfaction of knowing that the clothes they invest in have the lightest of footprints on our planet.
No exploitation, no greedy use of precious earth resources, just beautiful, sustainable heirlooms of beauty and distinction,’ she explains. Inspired by traditional costume from the utilitarian French farmers’ smock, to the ornate decadent beauty of eastern European ceremonial clothing, Coded Cloth offers a range of one-of-a-kind garments in relaxed, versatile shapes and simple silhouettes that allow for freedom of movement whilst showcasing the intricacies of their precious textiles.
Each unique garment is expertly made in England, combining vintage, often handmade, sustainable fabrics whose manufacture spans the 20th century. These internationally
sourced textiles are skillfully collaged and assembled, then beautifully finished with French seams to create bespoke contemporary womenswear that is made to endure and is as beautiful on the inside as the outside. Each garment encodes a unique story; each garment will inspire you to write your own.
As the founder of Fuse Communications, a PR agency that for 15 years has been specialising in children’s luxury brands including Il Gufo, Marie-Chantal and Rachel Riley, Shoshana Kazab is a real veteran in the kidswear industry. Sustainability has never played more on our minds as it has now. Of the 80 billion pieces of clothing produced worldwide, it is estimated 75% of these will end up in landfill each year. And in Britain alone, we are expected to throw away 235 million items of clothing this year.
Kazab’s online store, Kidswear Collective, combats these statistics by selling pre-loved designer clothing for children from birth to 14 years old and stocks over 450 brands including Gucci, Burberry and Dior. Here, luxury and sustainability unite. ‘I’m very fortunate to have worked with the top influencers and many of the best brands and wanted to find a way to create something which could address our urgent need to reduce waste in the fashion industry, but also make available designer pieces at affordable prices.
Our access to stock is unrivalled, as we are able to obtain from multiple sources including private sellers, samples and even garments used in fashion shoots,’ Kazab says. Though anyone can sell on the site, the business is proud to be collaborating with influencers. ‘Influencers have a huge fan base, so having them involved means their followers can shop their favourite looks and can also be alerted when new pieces arrive. It’s a real coming together of the industry,’ continues Kazab. Upon arrival, all items must pass Kidswear Collective’s eight-step inspection process, to ensure only the highest quality collections are stocked.
‘We want shopping on Kidswear Collective to feel like a luxury shopping experience and most importantly, we want to change the perception of what pre-loved fashion looks like,’ she adds. In addition, Kidswear Collective donates up to 5% of all sales to the NSPCC and any unsold items are donated to the family charity Little Village. And it’s not all digital – in March 2020, Kidswear Collective opened a 44sq ft concession in Selfridges in Oxford Street, has an edit on Selfridges.com and a pop-up in Selfridges, Trafford.
Upon identifying a gap in a market that was under-considered and let down for too long, Ricky Knight set up Randies, a luxury underwear brand hailing from London that is changing the face of men’s underwear.
A fast-paced 2020 was spent meeting technical designers, planet-friendly material suppliers, and innovative manufacturers. Alongside industry experts, Knight masterminded the TackleBag™, which lifts, supports, and provides superior comfort. When it comes to fabric, he opted for the natural and regenerative fabric Lenzing Tencel, made using self-sufficient Austrian beech trees in a pulp-to-fibre process. The branches of this fast-growing tree are harvested in sustainably-managed forests and offer a natural and renewable source of raw material.
Production takes place in Portugal, in a traditional fabrica run by a family of talented artisans who lovingly craft every pair of Randies by hand. The packaging, like everything at Randies, doesn’t cost the earth, made from FSC-certified recycled and recyclable materials. Plus, the brand is a proud member of 1% for the Planet, supporting environmental solutions and uniting with other conscious companies that are committed to a greener future.
The result? A product designed using innovative methods in manufacturing and material, with the consumer’s everyday needs and the impact on the planet at the forefront of all decision-making. Super soft, supportive, and naturally breathable underwear that will seamlessly support you throughout the day, whatever the activity.
It’s no surprise that Knight has executed his products with such finesse; with a successful marketing agency focusing on brand experience and customer engagement, he knows what it takes to bring a product to market and make it a roaring success.