"Sustainable luxury design". It sounds like an oxymoron - much has been documented of the fashion industry's impact on the environment - but Alice Powney has worked hard to ensure that her fashion house has earned such a reputation. Powney became the Creative Director of East London-based womenswear brand Mother of Pearl in 2016 and since then she has led the brand on a journey towards sustainability.
Powney grew up in the North of England and during her childhood, her family decided to go "off-grid". They produced their own electricity by means of a small wind turbine and her father dug out a well for collecting water. Remembering that time inspires Powney's mission to rethink clothing production, cutting out the middleman and ensuring that chains of production and supply are completely transparent. To Powney, sustainability requires a holistic approach; it does not just mean reducing pollution or air miles. It also involves journeying to find the best factories, suppliers and farmers who care about the planet and its inhabitants. Powney believes that sustainability is a mindset and the Mother of Pearl team ensure that it present throughout the company. Therefore, the studio is a plastic bottle free zone, the premises use eco-energy suppliers and have a package-free vegetarian lunch scheme made sourced from local organic produce.
On Saturday, after three years of planning and development, Mother of Pearl launched No Frills: the company's most sustainable womenswear collection to date. The production of the No Frills collection was characterised by a transparent supply chain, organic natural materials, social responsibility, respect for animals, a low carbon footprint and a high-quality end-product. Surprisingly, producing a clothing line based around ethical consciousness cost less than expected - even less than previous collections. It is also beautiful. The No Frills line features all the elements of excellent fashion design that customers expect from Mother of Pearl; including oversized jackets, shirts with pie-crust collars, and elegant yet understated dresses.
The No Frills collection aims to show that ethical consciousness in fashion is not only possible - it is marketable. Powney's goal is for sustainable fashion to be the norm, not the exception.
Blog post by Jessica Edney