As part of our founder interview series, we speak with Andrew Renton and Alex Brewster from Lyme Terrace about finding fulfillment in their work, fighting micro-trends, and advocating transparency.
You were friends first, business partners later. How did you two decide to team up and create a sustainable menswear brand together?
Happenstance really, we were both lacking fulfillment in our jobs and looking for a long term project that could make a real impact on the world. We wanted to start something more purposeful without having to change peoples’ buying habits at all. Clothing seemed like the obvious choice - people still buy clothing the same way, but we could limit the negative impact of that decision.
How would you describe the style of Lyme Terrace? Who do you envision wearing your brand?
We make classic clothing in colour, cut and feel. Not defined by the micro-trends of fast fashion. Our ideal customers usually live in the city, but have the nagging desire to escape it all too often.
We find ‘Ethical Fashion’ to be a bit of an empty buzzword that can be thrown around for marketing purposes. What does ‘ethical fashion’ mean to you, and how do you try and embody this with Lyme Terrace?
Ethical fashion to us is about respect. Respecting the environment, people in our supply chain and our customers. It’s a no brainer to use only organic cotton because we know the damage GMO cotton causes to farmers, the environment and consumers alike. organic cotton is more expensive. We value social, natural and economic capital equally; to us this is ‘Ethical Fashion’.
You are large advocates of transparency of supply chain. Do you personally visit all stages of production? And if so, why is this important to you?
We are advocates of transparency in our pricing and our supply chain. As any small clothing start-up will tell you it’s outwith our recourses to personally visit every stage of production, unfortunately cashflow simply doesn’t allow it.
What we can do is handpick partners that share our values and that have third party certification to guarantee their eco-credentials and fair working credentials. We visit all of our first level suppliers and visit our second level suppliers when/if any suspicions arise.
To give an example, when we were developing our first product (our bamboo tees) we weren’t convinced our Chinese fabric manufacturer was as eco-friendly as their certifications suggested, so we sent a member of our team to surprise visit them. Thankfully, everything was as described, in terms of staff happiness and environmental protection procedures.
How does Lyme Terrace work to combat trends of ‘Disposable Fashion’?
By designing and producing clothes that last the test of time is the best way to combat disposable fashion. Hopefully people will wear one of our garments and realise buying quality saves money (and the environment) in the long run.
What role do you think the consumer plays in creating a more sustainable fashion industry?
In today’s society, the consumer plays a huge role in encouraging sustainable fashion. Dominating fashion houses will react to what people buy, if everyone only buys organic ranges or buys from other organic/sustainable companies (like ourselves) instead, then the bigger players will increase their organic offering to protect their bottom line. These personal consumer decisions will be what changes the industry.
We see that your t-shirts are made in Cornwall, which is conveniently close to great surfing. What do you guys like to do outside of work?
Yes, this was a big plus when we picked our Cornish production unit to create our t-shirts. We’re both keen surfers and outdoor enthusiasts, but also love the energy of London. Escaping that energy and getting out into the wild is just as important. It’s all about balance.
What inspired you to make the ‘Limited Edition Organic Cotton + Bamboo Bud Tee’? (…p.s. we think you missed a really great marketing opportunity for hemp here...)
Erm, we both like to get inspired by Mother Earth’s choice of herbs sometimes and wanted to create a beautiful piece to reflect the true nature of a misunderstood plant!
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs looking to enter the sustainable fashion industry?
Start now because everything takes twice as long as you think it will. Do your research. Do small production runs with people you trust. Plan years ahead.
How would you like to see Lyme Terrace evolve in the future?
We would like to evolve into producing clothing in a world of 100% recycled cotton fabrics (which we are not too far off from) employing people around the world through NGO’s. To inspire an industry and prove that success can be achieved without sacrificing basic human values.