- Claire Kalikman
FREYA ROSEDALE ON HER UNDERWEAR BRAND ALEXANDER CLEMENTINE MADE FROM SEAWEED
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FIND COOL SUSTAINABLE UNDERWEAR? IT ISN’T NOW. MEET FREYA ROSEDALE FROM BUZZY NEW UNDIES BRAND, ALEXANDER CLEMENTINE (AND READ TO THE BOTTOM TO FIND OUT HOW TO WIN A PAIR).
WARDROBE CRISIS: Great to meet you. Tell us your story…
“Hi! I’m Freya and I’m one of the co-founders of Alexander Clementine, a UK-based sustainable underwear company. I started becoming more aware of sustainability whilst I was at university. I was alarmed by the amount of fast fashion orders both myself and my housemates were doing every week - just to wear once for a night out. I came across Fashion Revolution on Instagram and the statistics were so shocking - it was something I could not longer ignore just go get a cheap outfit.”
WARDROBE CRISIS: It’s one thing to get put off fast fashion - another to start your own brand. What drove you?
“Sustainability is important to me as it’s not just an environmental issue but a social one too. Fashion is a huge polluter but the true cost impacts both the environment and the people who make the garments. If something is cheap it’s because someone (usually BIPOC women) is paying the price along the way and that didn’t sit well with me. I think as consumers we have more sustainable choices than ever and we can use that power to invest in better practises and better brands.
WARDROBE CRISIS: You make underwear out of seaweed. Say WHAT?? “We initially set out to create ‘leather’ jackets made from ocean plastics. After a lot of time and money spent, we struggled to do this in a truly sustainable way. That was due to supplier issues, high overheads for us and the fabric being too stiff to work with efficiently.”
WARDROBE CRISIS: You win some you lose some. But tell just about the seaweed. “We were looking for alternative [materials] and stumbled across seaweed. We worked with our supplier to develop a unique blend of Seaweed and Tencel (both sustainably sourced and harvested) and we literally received the first sample and never looked back. It’s so soft and uses at least 97% less water that conventionally grown cotton. I was hooked. “When looking at the big picture (and my own wardrobe) we saw a gap in the market for underwear. It’s the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off at night, an absolute necessity which is quite often overlooked. Our fabric also retains the natural properties of seaweed and is inherently anti-bacterial and anti-odour, lending itself perfectly for underwear.
Our design choices are simple - we want to enhance the use of our fabric. We wrap the elastic underband and waistband to optimise comfort for the wearer. We’re really proud to be using such an amazing eco-friendly fabric and to be made in London so we put our label on the outside to showcase this as well as to avoid any uncomfortable label rubbing you sometimes get from underwear. Sustainable fashion is also expensive by nature so small garments, like underwear, can be cheaper than other pieces that use more fabric and we thought it would be a great entry level product for people looking to make sustainable
Image via Alexander Clementine
WARDROBE CRISIS: What do you think sustainable fashion has to do to make people more interested?
“I personally found that sustainable fashion can be quite marginalising. A lot of sustainable brands focus on their sustainable credentials from a viewpoint that the alternatives are somehow immoral. If you’re recently a convert or just exploring sustainable options, this can be quite overwhelming.
“There’s also a bit of a stigma around sustainable fashion that it’s ‘hippies wearing hemp’ - so we set out to make sustainability sexy by creating style-driven underwear that didn’t necessarily fit into the minimalist aesthetic that many sustainable fashion brands have. We wanted to use colour and our style to create really fun underwear that had the added bonus of being sustainable.”
WARDROBE CRISIS: Where do you want to be in 5 years?
“At the forefront of sustainable fashion, constantly developing and changing to be the very best we can be. We want to be the go-to brand for underwear first and foremost, however, we want to expand from underwear too. We've talked about various alternatives and ideas, including developing new fabrics and blends to create a better future, which is something really passionate and excited about.
“We’ve also found, through our customers, that our underwear has helped in difficult times. They’ve found that our underwear has aided the recovery of post breast cancer surgery, due to its softness and breathability. We’re looking into developing made-to-measure bras for people going through this very experience.
“I guess we want to be a brand that other new companies aspire to be - a brand that leads the way to ensure that one day sustainable fashion will be the norm.”
Interview with Claire Kalikman.
WARDROBE CRISIS IS RUNNING A GIVEAWAY WITH ALEXANDER CLEMENTINE THAT IS OPEN UNTIL 14 DECEMBER 2020. CLICK THIS LINK TO FIND OUT HOW TO ENTER.
Want to hear more from sustainable fashion’s most innovative designers? Check out our interview with Haya Khalifa, an ethical designer out of Bahrain.