15 January, 2021
“We’re driven by the conviction that the earth is shaking and we need to take action. We need to take decisions; every time we take decisions that are good for the planet, it turns out to be good for the company, and that’s quite amazing”.
This year, we will be shining a light on the sustainability leaders who inspire us, to understand what drives them and what we can learn.
Earlier this week, Giles spoke to Javier Goyeneche, the founder of Spanish fashion brand ECOALF, about his vision for ECOALF. ECOALF launched in 2013 and uses recycled materials – from coffee grounds to fishing nets – to create beautiful and low impact sportswear, outwear, shoes and accessories. Since inception, ECOALF has developed over 300 new fabrics from recycled materials, and removed 100 tonnes of fishing nets, and 600 tonnes of waste from the oceans in doing this.
You can watch the interview here. Particularly interesting are Javier’s reflections on the need for being consistent and sticking to your principles – ECOALF stopped producing its best selling jacket when it realised that the fleece it was made of released around 20,000 microfilaments into the water supply each time it was washed. While the decision had a short term impact on sales, its longer term impact on the brand, its values and its reputation was significant.
The discussion is wide ranging, and covers Javier’s thoughts about disrupting the fashion industry’s business model, from seasonality working with wholesalers to encourage them to think about production entirely differently, to Black Friday promotions (spoiler – he’s not a fan, and commissioned spoken word poet Tom Foolery to produce a rather beautiful anti-Black Friday promotional video) and the role of small brands as pathfinders and influencers. On the way, Giles and Javier discuss the B Corps movement and its influence on sustainable brands, ocean protection and water usage, and what we can learn from the pandemic about balancing our needs and those of the planet.
ECOALF is an unashamedly luxury brand, and the price of its garments may put it beyond the reach of many. But its emphasis on influencing and leading the fashion industry globally means where it leads, others follow, and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
By Claire Jost