Who are the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Award Winners?

Stephanie Steele Thursday, 30 July 2020

The winners of the inaugural Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020 have been revealed and it is a bunch that we wanted to share with you as inspiration, and maybe a little bit of fuel if they're a competitor. One thing is for sure - while sustainability and ethics is about the common good of our people and planet, competition always helps in driving innovative solutions. The Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020 stands to recognise the strides that are being made in response to reducing the industry’s environmental impact and creating fairer working conditions across the supply chain.

Judged by an independent panel of experts in fashion retail and sustainability, the awards highlight brands and retailers, supply chains and technology. We are so pleased to see some absolute favourites on here, that we ourselves have chatted to so really understand the passions. It's also amazing to see smaller brands on here amongst larger conglomerates, including outdoor brands that wouldn't necessarily be normally witnessed in the 'fashion' realm. There are also brands and retailers on here that we'd never heard of, so awards like this are a wonderful way to stay on top of what's going on. Read on for more information and some tidbits on the winners and those commended.


Best Supply Chain Initiative

Winner: Filippa K – Swedish Wool Initiative

Finalists:

  • H&M – Sustainable supply chain
  • Kathmandu – Sustainable supply chain
  • Masai Clothing Company – FSC Chain of Custody Certification
  • Superdry – Sustainable Supply Chain: 100% Organic Cotton by 2030

In Sweden, 40 different breeds of sheep have the potential to produce more than 1,200 tonnes of wool per year, and 63% of this is currently burned or thrown away because the sheep are raised purely for meat production, the Swedish Sheep Association says. Of the remaining 37%, almost 100 tonnes is used for gardening, and the rest is made into knitting yarn.

In 2018, Filippa K formed a partnership with small Swedish sportswear brand Röjk Superwear, farmer Tomas Olsson and the Swedish Sheep Association, to try to get the nation’s wool back into the textile supply chain.

~ from the Drapers Changemakers Report on Filippa K's Swedish wool initiative

Best Carbon Footprint Initiative

Winner: Lemon Jelly – Wasteless Act and Closing the Loop. 100% recycled plastic "jelly" footwear, PETA-approved, made ethically and locally in Portugal.

Highly commended: SLO Active – The World's Most Sustainable Luxury Oceanwear on Track to be Carbon Neutral by 2021. We featured these on our pick of the most sustainable swimwear brands.

Finalist: Superdry – Reducing Our Carbon Footprint

Best Customer Engagement Campaign

Winner: Birdsong – Transparent Friday

Highly commended: Bottletop and #Togetherbrand – #Togetherbrand launch

Finalists:

"We’d opted out of every Black Friday since we were founded, as it was about discounting and over-consumption – two things that go against our ethos. I always wanted to do a campaign about how much it costs to make a dress, so renamed it Transparent Friday.

We broke down all aspects of how much it costs to make everything – from fabric to labour costs – and put that on our social media and blogs. We said to customers that they could choose their own discount [20%, 30% or 40% off]. No matter the discount customers chose, our seamstresses would always receive the same amount of money, £15/hour.

Most people went for the middle option. It was a massive re-education campaign for our customers, showing them that doing things properly in fashion is expensive."

~ Sophie Slater, Founder of Birdsong talking to Drapers about the campaign

Sustainable Textile Innovation

Winner: Candiani’s Coreva Denim

Finalists:

  • Coats – EcoVerde [polyester has higher tenacity than natural fibres, so recycled polyester thread could create great waves]
  • Isko – R-TWO [reused cotton yarn blended with rPET for denim, ISKO like to make change where they can]
  • Izabel London – CK Morgan Sustainable Textile Innovation
  • Re:Newcell – Circulose [learn more about Circulose in our lesson from Jenny Fredricsdotter]
  • Vivobarefoot – Primus Lite II Bio [algae-based alternative to synthetics plus rPET in a shoe]

Best Use of Technology for Good

Winner: Tejidos Royo – Dry Indigo [waterless indigo dyeing]

Highly commended: Farfetch x Good On You [unfortunately, all we see is luxury goods, and some on sale despite it being a 'conscious' edit]

Finalists:

  • Ecoalf – Flipflops from used tyres [we love obvious products from obvious waste]
  • H&M – Product Sustainability
  • Kathmandu
  • Pentland Brands – Everyone’s Business app
  • Wrangler – Indigood

Graduate Award

Winner: Rebecca Powell, Portsmouth University, BA Fashion and Textiles Design

Finalists:

  • Mia Herrod, Norwich University of the Arts [her business is known as Mia Sylvia]
  • Kate MacMahon, Edinburgh College of Art
Rebecca Powell's graduate collection

While we appreciate Rebecca's approach looking at trash, the naturally dyed textiles from Mia, using hand-foraged ingredients such as flowers, food waste and scrap metal to breathe new life into upcycled garments and non-virgin fabrics, is an approach that feels more grown-up and where fashion needs to head. Mia also has a fully fledged business.

Recommerce Award

Winner: My Wardrobe HQ [see our lesson from founder Zoe Partridge, when they were still known as Wear The Walk]

Highly commended: ACS Clothing

Finalists:

Progress Towards Circularity

Winner: Nudie Jeans [about repair and re-use schemes]

Highly commended: Swedish Stockings

Finalists:

  • Fabric for Freedom
  • Farfetch UK
  • H&M
  • Hunter
  • Napapijri

Brand of the year (<£30m turnover)

Winner: Raeburn

Highly commended: Finisterre [they'll always hold a special place because of their work in growing the UK's merino wool demand, and in attempting to recycle damaged wetsuits into new wetsuits]

Finalists:

  • Bower Swimwear
  • Findra
  • Izabel London
  • Lowie
  • Lucy and Yak [a personal favourite; they make sustainable ethical clothing accessible]
  • Matt and Nat
  • Royce Lingerie
  • Thought Fashion
  • WoolOvers

Brand of the Year (>£30m turnover)

Winner: Craghoppers

Finalists:

  • Berghaus
  • Hunter
  • Meyer
  • Superdry
  • Wrangler

Retailer of the year

Winner: Wolf & Badger

Finalists:

  • H&M
  • Joules
  • Selfridges
  • Oh Polly

Sustainable Fashion Champion

Dilys Williams, director of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, and pioneer of industry change for more than a decade.

You can read the full interview with Dilys in the Changemaker's Report.

Ones to Watch

The Ones to Watch award was introduced to recognise new and emerging fashion companies that are built on sustainable values, as well as demonstrating signs of commercial viability. It proved so popular that, instead of choosing one winner, the Drapers team have handpicked 20 of the best start-ups to watch.

  • Aequem [Setting out to “make sustainability the norm”, Aequem is an ecommerce platform dedicated to environmentally and socially sustainable brands]
  • Aqua & Rock [uses rPET and makes in Britain, but we didn't get on with the way the values were communicated when we met them at a trade show]
  • Boita Bag Co. [slick backpack using bio-based EVA-foam and rPET]
  • Brooks & Sharpe [another online platform curating sustainable brands]
  • By Rotation [peer-to-peer fashion rental app]
  • Dinoski [wish we knew about these for our kids Masterclass, this stuff is cool!]
  • Hirestreet [rental of high street ~ we're unsure this would actually slow down consumption as the brands would have a reason to continue producing]
  • Holiday Romance [recycled nylon swimwear]
  • Know the Origin [definitely believe these should be on the list; watch our interview with founder Charlotte Instone here]
  • Love Our Planet by Novi [vegan footwear]
  • Luxtra [we're hoping we can chat to these for our Accessories Masterclass; B-Corp, vegan and uses piñatex]
  • My Wardrobe HQ [wardrobe rental as above]
  • Riley Studio [just really lovely thoughtful pieces with a repair and take back scheme]
  • Sheep Inc [carbon neutral knitwear; watch our interview with co-founder Edazrd here]
  • Sleepy Wilson [Oeko-Tex certified premium pyjamas]
  • SLO Active [we appreciate the plant-based neoprene functional pieces, and female-led social business]
  • Stay Wild Swim [swimwear from ECONYL]
  • Tala [92% recycled or upcycled materials across their whole activewear label]
  • Thalossophy [men's resort with thoughtful materials with donations made to related charities]
  • Warrior Addict [it's great to see men's-specific labels on this list; eco yogawear]