The next female-led brand I wanted to highlight as part of my Girl Boss series was Alexander Clementine, a newly launched sustainable lingerie brand.
I came across Freya on Twitter and was immediately taken with her focus on sustainability and style.
Style and sustainability is at the heart of what Alexander Clementine do; our mission is simple: we want to create style driven cotton alternative underwear that not only looks amazing, makes you feel amazing but most importantly doesn’t harm anyone or anything along the way.
Before the launch of Alexander Clementine – an amalgamation of their names, Freya Clementine Rosedale and Alex Perry – Freya admits that in a lot of ways she was lost.
I’d graduated from university in 2017 and went straight into working in PR and then tried out Events but nothing was really sticking for me. I absolutely dreaded Sunday nights and having to go into work the next day; and ended up moving home and working in my local pub.
This definitely wasn’t what I imagined doing after university whilst all my friends were doing ‘real jobs’ and I did feel like I was being left behind. However, when my partner and I came up with the idea of getting into sustainable fashion I finally felt like I had a purpose and freedom and I found it so satisfying to start to create something from scratch.
The concept is amazing, in a society so desperate to eradicate fast fashion and create a circular economy it makes complete sense to look to our ocean waste to create the items we so need.
We actually started by developing ‘leather’ jackets made from ocean plastics and stumbled across seaweed fabric whilst looking for alternative leathers as our prototype wasn’t working out.
The company we get the seaweed fibre from has been around for a while but we work with an amazing eco-friendly factory to weave and create our own blend with Tencel (wood pulp) instead of cotton as we using the most sustainable and eco-friendly natural fibres is so important to us and cotton famously uses a gargantuan amount of water to create.
The first line Alexander Clementine has released is in a seaweed shade, obviously this is a nod to the seaweed makeup of the fabric.
“As a new company we wanted our first collection to really make an obvious statement that we are here, sustainable and made from seaweed which is why we went with the colour.
Moving forward we’ll be doing all kinds of colours, we’re in the process of creating two more in two fun colours in new styles.
The label being on the outside is something we want to continue as a sort of staple from us. It has our logo which says Made in London on it which is something we’re really proud of so although we’ll be doing less ‘sea themed’ colours we will be keeping some brand coherence through this.
Given my experience in enterprise I always find it really interesting how people develop their plans and ideas; what were the main components you needed to consider and how difficult was it to ensure you’d covered each of these?
The main thing we tried to do before launch is have everything covered. We researched and developed the materials and styles for nearly two years before launch to make sure our business plan was completely watertight.
“I saved up whilst working and had the privilege to live at home rent-free so juggling wasn’t that difficult for me personally. My social life did take a bit of a hit, I quit my job and started working on the brand full time around a year ago which meant I didn’t have lots of money to spend on having fun - I still don’t!
However, it has got to the point where I believe so strongly in the brand so even though it’s difficult, I feel like it's worth it and will pay off in the long run.
We’re in a pretty difficult business climate, so going forward may pose its own challenges for the business but Freya thinks they have this under control.
We have a pretty simple strategy. Obviously, the classic social media and working with influencers. Moving forward however, we’re looking into wholesale and also collaborations with great people - we actually have a secret project we’re working on at the moment! We want to remain authentic and currently word of mouth is the best promotion we have had so far.
At the moment, the brand has two products; their triangle bra and matching high-waisted thong but what I wanted to ask Freya was where they saw their brand going.
We’re in the process of developing a new style that will launch soon. We want to listen to our customers and consumers, and they’ve been asking for more coverage and sizes, so this is the route we’re taking whilst also being seamless and sexy!
We’d love to become the go to sustainable brand in the future and develop all different kinds of garments that are made with the planet in mind but also don’t compromise style for sustainability.
Clearly sustainability is important to the brand and there’s a clear social conscience.
When we came up with the idea of sustainable underwear we obviously did extensive research and found loads of great sustainable underwear but we wanted to stick out and our USP was that it is both designed and made in London whereas a lot of the sustainable brands out there are made abroad.
I think we’ve taken inspiration from all our favourite brands and their ethos and given our own twist. We want to be a sustainable underwear brand for all, lots of sustainable brands marginalise those who aren’t necessarily into sustainable fashion whereas we wanted to make great underwear with the added bonus of being ethical, sustainable and transparent.
What is the plan for Alexander Clementine going forward? I wondered what the ongoing focus was going to be.
For the meanwhile I’m happy with our products only being for sale on our website however, next year I’d like to wholesale to bigger stores such as Selfridges, Harrods, Net-A-Porter and Matches as it is a premium brand.
I do think stocking in a lot of stores does undermine the sustainability concept as overconsuming anything is not very sustainable!
With an increase in sizes and new products in the pipeline, I’ll be keeping an eye on what Alexander Clementine do next!
You can read the other posts so far in the Girl Boss series here: