Two sustainable fashion gurus on a mission to make London floors sexy

Saturday, November 27, 2021 11:59 a.m.

Far from providing a pivotal roadmap, COP26 at least uncovered some tangible solutions for multiple industries to move forward.

For the first time, fossil fuels were noted and added to the final deal, albeit rather lip service, with a little help from India and China.

Another key thing to remember was the need for ‘nature-based solutions’, so a good time to City AM to sit down with FOLDE, a new concept clothing brand that aims to move beyond the status quo of sustainability “by bringing a new balance found with nature and society.” “

Much like the farm-to-table movement in the food industry, the label’s founders, Sally Gravellng (pictured left) and Louise Petranca, believe that connecting the origins of raw materials will create a mutually beneficial relationship between farmers and farmers. producers themselves.

Focusing only on natural fibers grown using low-impact or regenerative farming methods can drastically reduce the impact of fashion on the environment while supporting local economies.

How exactly can fashion regenerate the soil?

Sally Gravellng: About 30 percent of clothing is made from agricultural fibers such as cotton, wool, and linen. Just as we grow our food, the methods we use to grow our clothes can have a dramatic effect on the health of our soils, the quality of our water systems, and the biodiversity of our ecosystems. Methods such as crop rotation, holistic grazing, recycling plant and animal material into the soil, no-till, agroforestry, as well as the creation of grasslands and wetlands all benefit the delicate land ecosystem. agricultural. By employing these methods, we can accumulate soil mass, reduce erosion, improve water filtration, and increase the amount of carbon sequestered from the atmosphere and stored in our soil. Healthy soil is so powerful that it can lower the Earth’s temperature and help fight climate change.

Unlike large-scale conventional agriculture which strips our soils of their goodness, regenerative agriculture has the capacity to restore life.

Sally gravellng

Louise Petranca adds: This is not about pointing fingers at farmers. Intensive agriculture has been encouraged since the world wars in order to feed and clothe a growing population. Farmers now need help and encouragement, as well as government incentives to support them in this change. Fashion has a huge role to play in this regard by carefully examining the fabrics we have chosen to work with and dedicating time to work alongside these farmers so that we can solve these problems together.

In such a crowded market, with so many sustainable brands opening up every day, why do you think you can stand out?

Louise Petranca: In a world that needs to consume a lot less, we really had to question our raison d’être when designing the brand. In order to justify putting new clothes in the biosphere, there must be a real, solid and determined mission behind this decision. For us, that meant designing within the confines of nature and proving that being truly sustainable didn’t have to be exclusive of fashion. By tracing our materials to their agricultural roots and working with climate-conscious farmers and textile producers, we have been able to drastically reduce the impact of our brands on the planet.

Sure, but how do you get around the shipment of cotton from India and counteract the imprint?

Sally Gravellng: The question here is not to get around something, but to understand the complexity of the problem. Cotton is the largest non-food crop in the world and between 40 and 50 million people in India depend on it for their livelihoods. You also have to recognize that you cannot grow cotton in the UK as our climate does not lend itself to it.

The solution is not to stop using cotton from India but to grow cotton in a way that helps solve the specific problems of this country and region.

Louise Petranca

Louise Petranca: This is exactly why we chose to work with The Oshadi Collective. The fibers are regeneratively grown from indigenous organic cotton seeds, then spun, naturally dyed, woven and sewn within a ten kilometer radius, facilitated by local artisan communities employed on their own terms. By using a fiber shed model within a radius of 10 km, the carbon mileage between production units, which can sometimes exceed thousands of kilometers, is significantly reduced and by cultivating regeneratively, we help attract the excess carbon in the soil.

Your first collection is in wool. Can you tell us a little more about the regenerative path to British Wool.

Louise Petranca: Recognizing that it is a journey is the first step. Globally, there are amazing initiatives that are transforming the way sheep are raised. Charles Massey’s Regenerative Farm in New South Wales is a stunning example, along with the work Nativa is doing to bring transparency to the industry on a global scale. In the UK similar visionary work is underway, but on a smaller scale and unfortunately we could not find anyone producing regenerative UK wool on a scale suitable for manufacturing.

Sally Gravellng: We did however meet Ruth Rands of Herd Wool, who is very passionate about supporting farmers in the transition from conventional farming to regenerative practices. Herd Wool has taken the first step on the road to starting to give back value to British Wool. From this position, it is then possible to open a dialogue with farmers on how they can switch to more rewarding practices. We decided to work with Ruth because we wanted to support her and the farmers in this adventure.

Do you have any ideas on how to spot greenwashing?

Sally Gravellng: It’s a difficult subject because it is a very complex subject and difficult to communicate in a clear and concise manner while being truthful and transparent. There is probably your answer. Binary, black and white statements could be an indication that there is greenwashing going on. Brands that honestly communicate about being on the road and have a roadmap to accomplish their mission are raising their hands that they’re not perfect yet, but they’re determined to make a difference. Second, we encourage people to dig below the surface of what a brand communicates to find out how the health of the planet and the people are embedded at the heart of their business.

“If the definition of success is only related to financial profit and not to their social and environmental impact, we will certainly question all of the big sustainability messages that a company emits. ”

Sally Gravellng:

We have noticed that you have already built the support of people who are prominent within the sustainability community, how has that helped?

Louise Petranca: We were very lucky to have a number of people supporting us. We weren’t quite prepared for opening up and supporting this space given that the fashion industry can often be quite secretive. Being able to talk to Arizona Muse about our aspirations to be a regenerative brand, at such an early stage in our journey, was extremely important because it gave us confidence that we were on the right track. She recently started a charity called DIRT which is dedicated to biodynamic practices and improving the health of our soils, so her knowledge on the subject has been incredibly useful. Now that we have launched a Crowdfunder campaign with the support of this campaign in Arizona, Livia Firth and associations like EcoAge and the Cotton Diaries are really helping to build credibility when we are a new brand.

Yes, you hit on an interesting point, why did you choose to go with Crowdfunder vs investor?

Louise Petranca: The attraction of crowdfunding for us was the opportunity to build an engaged community. It seemed like the right thing to do at this early stage in our development. We were also concerned that business investment might overshadow our real focus. We do not rule out working with an investor later, but it would be important that our values ​​and theirs are fully aligned. We’ve seen many brands get out of the way when success is all about financial gain.

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Gail Mena

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