As part of our founder series, we speak with Jade Rozenbroek about starting her own sustainable menswear brand.
You have worked at fashion houses including Versace, Burberry and Marc Jacobs. When did you decide that you wanted to move into the space of sustainable fashion?
It was whilst working at these houses that I was made aware of the waste and non-sustainable solutions that where available in large scale companies. It is very hard to make dramatic changes when you are working in such high volumes. I started Rozenbroek so that I could build a sustainable brand from the ground up and then have the skills to be able to help others change also.
How did your experience working in the fashion industry before influence the way you wanted to set up and run Rozenbroek?
When Rozenbroek first formed I was showing in Paris, doing wholsesale collections as you would in most fashion houses. However I soon realised that to change the masses it was not high end, expensive clothing that was going to educate and build awareness, so I decided to break free and do things my way! Now we make to order, have only a few sizes of each piece available and sell direct to the customer. This allows us to offer high quality, made in England pieces but at a fraction of the price that other brands can. Having our own factory is obviously pivotal in this process also!
Have you always had a preference for designing menswear or is this a new challenge for you?
I have always been a menswear designer. At university I realised that whatever you make women will always wear it, however men are more fussy and due to this if a man picks up my clothes and loves it, it is the best compliment I could get!
How would you describe the design aesthetic of Rozenbroek? Where do you get your inspiration?
We describe our pieces as ‘Modern day wardrobe essentials’.
I get a lot of my inspiration from Japanese street wear, the boxy fits and high quality manufacture is timeless yet worn with a contemporary confidence. Also the past, I have scrap books of images of anything and everything: artists, rock stars and photographers works that I am constantly inspired by.
The growing concept of ‘Ethical Fashion’ can be quite difficult to define. What does ‘ethical fashion’ mean to you?
Ethical fashion to me means fashion that is genuinely doing something to help the climate crisis and the people who make the garments.
We use organic as it is better for the soil and the farmers, vegan fabrics as it is better for the animals and environment and manufacture in England to reduce our carbon footprint. Our packaging is all recycled and recyclable or biodegradable and our ladies who manufacture our garments are part of our family, they are paid fairly, have short and family friendly working hours and a break room where we encourage ‘breaks not mistakes’ as we know that not getting fresh air is not going to make you sleepy!
In addition to working with natural materials, the Rozenbroek collection is made in the UK in factories powered by solar energy. While it is clear you have a keen commitment to reducing your environmental impact, what steps do you take to maintain a transparent and fair supply chain?
We work with other ethical manufacturers and suppliers and have certification to show for it. When our customers come into our East London shop, we spend time talking them through our process and answering any questions and we also publish things like our fanzine which went out for fashion revolution week which highlighted the issues with the industry and what we are doing to combat these changes. We are working on publishing a transparency report for our customers but are yet to find the best solution of how to properly do it, watch this space!
Initially Rozenbroek offered a collection of high end seasonal clothing. Why did you move into the “wardrobe essentials” that you offer today?
We wanted to offer affordable clothing that was still of the same high quality and we did this by deciding to sell direct to the customer rather than wholesale. The wardrobe essentials where born as we were doing everything we could to be the most sustainable and decided that high fashion pieces go out of style quickly and instead to build a capsule around pieces that you can buy to last a lifetime.
When reflecting on Rozenbroek, what makes you the proudest?
Our brand followers! We have some really amazing people who truly believe in the brand and come back time and time again. It is so humbling to see people really believe in what I am doing and want to support it and hear about the future of the brand.
What advice would you give to someone who is new to shopping with ethics in mind?
Be careful! Just because it says organic or sustainable on the label it doesn’t necessarily mean it is made well or any better for the environment. There is a lot of green washing out there and I think the best practice is to pick your core values and try and stick with that rather than try and tick all of the boxes. If you believe in fairly paid workers then find a brand that does that, or if you are passionate about animals perhaps go the vegan route. Very few brands (apart from us obviously!) tick all of the boxes and limiting yourself will only make it seem futile.
How would you like to see Rozenbroek grow in the future?
We are actually just launching a womenswear collection, after very popular demand, so I am excited to see how we can push the brand further across genders. I would also like to expand my East London shop which I am also stocking other ethical brands at and would like to make this into the go to shop for ethical gifting. The ‘sustainable lifestyle store’, as I call the shop will become a hub in the ethical community and I am excited to do more collaborations, talks and events here and really get people educated and excited about the slow fashion movement.