In the countdown to the next London Fashion Week (produced by the British Fashion Council, taking place from 16th to 20th September 2022) a celebration of design through shows and digital activations will take place across the capital city.
Yet the sector generally still has a long way to go in response to its immense environmental impact with the industry accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions.
That leads to an impossible question for sustainable and mission-driven brands like Pantee. Does the young business take part to raise profile, but contribute towards what its founders see as an unsustainable system, or miss the opportunity altogether.
“The industry operates on trends and fashion weeks are a key part of every cycle. Despite some designers using Fashion Week as an opportunity to showcase new fabrics, innovations and sustainable collections, the uptake is low across the board and does not detract from the primary purpose – to drive trends” explains Kate McCourt who with her sister Amanda started Pantee on their mission to reduce fashion waste.
“Even with a nod to more sustainable practices, Fashion Week by nature ignores factors that are key to building a more sustainable industry: lowering consumption, limiting over-production and creating timeless products that will last. At Pantee, we’d love to see a shift to Fashion Week being used as an opportunity to educate, innovate and raise awareness across the industry” she continues.
The Pantee business model is simple yet effective, creating underwear from dead-stock fabrics that otherwise would be wasted. Its modern designs and entrepreneurial resolve in the midst of the pandemic have captured the attention being named a ‘Top Sustainable Underwear Brand’ by The Independent and ‘One to Watch’ at the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2022.
After launching on Kickstarter in November 2020, the sisters quickly surpassed their £10,000 funding target. Since then the business has upcycled an impressive more than 1,000kg of dead-stock fabrics whilst gaining 5 star reviews for the comfort in design from customers.
“For too long the underwear industry has focused on how people look; not how they feel. That’s why Pantee makes underwear that puts comfort first – not just in the products they make but in their ethical practices and the way they make people feel” adds McCourt.
A small brand with huge ambitions, the Pantee team have set their sights on becoming the go-to brand for sustainable basics in the UK with a goal to take 1% of the total underwear market within the next four years. One of the ways in which it might start to deliver on such an ambitious goal is how satisfied the consumer is with the products.
“A testament to the quality of our products is that our returns rate sits significantly below the eCommerce average of 20% at just 5%” answers McCourt.
Like many sustainable fashion brands Pantee is ambitious and communicating with a consumer who wants realistic change. Whilst there may be a long way to go still for fashion, smaller brands are stepping up to the change.