Rose & Willard, a leading UK luxury womenswear brand, is convinced of one thing: today’s fashion manufacturers have a responsibility to reduce the industry’s huge carbon footprint.
“Designers need to take a proactive stand in promoting healthy-looking models. Indeed I would say they have responsibility”
Rose & Willard believes that its name captures exactly what the company’s about. The feminine elegance of Rose combined with the classic boldness in Willard. Since starting in 2014, the brand has produced pieces for a wide range of successful women, from Pippa Middleton to Jennifer Aniston. They’re convinced that the path towards a fairer and more transparent fashion industry doesn’t require a sacrifice in product quality.
Heidy Rehman formed Rose & Willard to tackle the lack of innovative and sustainability-focused womenswear brands on the market. “I was working as a top-ranked stock broker and unable to find clothing choices for women that could convey professionalism, femininity and individuality simultaneously. What I found on the high street was either too frumpy, desperately chasing trends, or ludicrously expensive,” she says.
Rose & Willard’s garments are all made in one location in South London. The company insists that in-house garment workers are kept healthy, happy, and productive. Rose & Willard is also one of the only fashion houses in London that pays its interns. Everyone from the production team to trainees are treated as integral parts of the brand.
[POSITIVE BODY IMAGE]
After ensuring the business was both ethical and sustainable, the company moved on to promoting its own image of modern beauty.
“The look of a model is determined by fashion designers,” says Heidy. “They are the primary source of demand for the super-skinny models we see, especially on catwalks. Model agencies are service providers and merely cater to this demand.”
Rose & Willard’s models are often ordinary people. The aim is to promote natural body imagery and devalue the industry practices which pressurise aspiring young women. “On our site you will see non-model models, i.e. professional women who are not professional models,” says the company. “The idea was to present attractive and healthy-looking women who still represent aspiration but who our customer can relate to.
“Designers need to take a proactive stand in promoting healthy-looking models. Indeed I would say they have responsibility,” Heidy says.
[LOWEST CARBON FOOTPRINT]
Contrary to the company’s peers who use longer supply chains extending across the world, Rose & Willard designs and produces everything in-house from sustainably sourced materials. They consider it a necessity to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint. Fashion is, after all, thought of as the world’s most polluting industry after oil.
“We really do believe we have the lowest carbon footprint on account of the fact that we design, pattern, cut, sample, make, manufacture and distribute all from one location in South London.”
Production typically involves food industry by-products such as salmon and cod leather – the skins are normally discarded otherwise. These are specifically sourced from sustainable fisheries, and shaped into beautiful contemporary designs.
The company doesn’t believe that conducting ethical and sustainable business requires a sacrifice in the quality of the products. “It’s hard. Ethics don’t come cheap,” Heidy explains, “that said, I think many consumers want to know where their products come from and for those products to be free from exploitation. So there is a market. It’s a question of connecting with those customers who consume consciously.”
The brand wants to further its reach, with talks of expanding to the US to continue producing garments that are responsibly sourced, empowering, honest, and have what they believe to be the lowest carbon footprint in the fashion industry.
Find out more here: roseandwillard.com
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