Last month I shared a giant round up answering a frequently asked “where to shop for ethically made basics”. Today, I’m excited to dive in deep with one of the brands featured there and one I’ve been honored to work alongside for several months now.
Forever drawn to all things neutral, versatile, and timeless, The Natural Edition has quickly worked it’s way to hold the grand title of “most worn brand” in my closet. This brand, more than just another brand who has jumped on the “sustainability bandwagon”, The Natural Edition, owned by fashion industry guru Nicole Adamo, has truly taken every aspect of creating a piece of clothing into consideration and made the most sustainable choice possible for the planet, the garment creator, and the consumer.
Today’s post will give you a deeper look into the decisions that brand owners have to face when setting out to make a truly sustainable brand. It’s not a black and white arena and, as you’ll see, there are lots of aspects that we as consumers oftentimes don’t consider or underestimate the complexity of when it comes to ethical production. Learning from the brand owners I’m lucky enough to work with is one of my favorite parts of my little job and I hope you get as excited as I do reading about the “behind the scenes” of it all.
Before we get into the backstory, here’s a brief overview of who The Natural Edition is in a nutshell:
Where: The Natural Edition is based in the UK and produces their clothing using a Dutch/Turkish factory that’s Fairwear audited.
What: The brand, newly launched this year, has a first collection of versatile basics including tees and dresses made from GOTS-certified organic cotton and Tencel (read more about both of those fabrics in my Ethical Basics Guide!)
Who: TNE is owned by Nicole Adamo. She’s no stranger to the fashion industry and owned a successful luxury-wear brand sold in stores all over the UK. She felt unfulfilled though and constantly worn down by the harmful effects of fast fashion, so she decided to switch gears and create a brand that would do good in the world.
From Fast to Slow, TNE’s Backstory:
The Transition: “I immersed myself in research, attended every talk and event that was on in London that addressed sustainability or ethical production and while researching more into sustainability and the issues decided it was important to influence the hardest working pieces of the wardrobe- wardrobe essentials. Starting a sustainable and ethical fashion brand was a lot more difficult than a luxury brand..firstly it was very different production to what I made before so I had to find a new factory…after working in luxury fashion my quality standards are very high and this proved a bit of barrier.”
The Fabric: “We started with sampling in the UK with the plan on producing in the UK as we could do smaller quantities and I could oversee production, however the quality was not to my standard. When we first started sampling our main jersey was bamboo as many brands cite this as eco-friendly but after further research realised that bamboo was not eco-friendly due to lack of transparency with sourcing and the amount of chemical needed to turn it into fabric. I became aware that there was confusion over what was sustainable and not well researched information doing the rounds.”
…”we had to make our own signature fabrics that were bespoke with the downside being the minimums were high the upside being we could get what we wanted which was super premium sustainably sourced fabric that was super soft and luxurious. I looked for a designer who was experienced in athleisure as my designs were all about combining style with comfort and found someone who was the designer for Beyonce’s Ivy Park and Sweaty Betty who had just gone freelance with her baby on the way. “
The Packaging: …”I assumed a factory that only makes for sustainable brands had a solution that was NOT plastic..but they didn’t as no one had figured it out and those biodegradable bags just break down to micro-plastics. Currently, nearly all garments are packed in a plastic polybag before leaving the factory and end up as landfill, or worse, in the oceans and we did not want our legacy to be that. At the final hour we found a packaging supplier that was willing to experiment and we designed a kraft card pouch so we could say no to the poly bag!”
As strange as this partnership may seem at this point in my life (ie. 9 months pregnant and very well out of clothing that truly fits), The Natural Edition is one of the few brands I’ve been able to wear for my entire pregnancy. The intentionally oversized design — with extra length in the sleeves and at the bottom of tees — along with the rounded hems has made each item I own from TNE truly worth its “weight” in my closet.
The pieces hold up to daily life (real daily life…I’m a pregnant mama to two over here…), wash extremely well, stretch when and where they need to without becoming droopy, and go with just about everything in my closet.
I’ll be wearing them all for years to come and am so grateful to have connected with a brand who truly understands the need for well-made, fairly-made pieces for real life at a real-life price point.
You can shop Nicole’s gorgeous first collection here, and don’t forget to use my code LIV20 for 20% off your order!
*This post is the last of a long term ambassador partnership with The Natural Edition. Thank you for supporting the brands that make SL&Co. possible! As always, all photos, opinions, and baby bumps are mine ;) *