Riley Studio: eco innovation without compromising on style
8 Nov 2019
A young brand putting the environment first, Riley Studio are on a mission to change mindsets and make conscious consumerism the norm. Launched in 2018, the collection features knitwear, sweatshirts and accessories, and all of Riley’s gender-neutral staples are ageless, seasonless and made to last a lifetime.
The brand is dedicated to sustainable innovation, so pieces are produced from leftover materials, such as Recover® Yarn, crafted from textile waste and plastic bottles, and Lyocell, made from wood pulp. As for their eco-friendly partners, from farmers to spinners and dyers to manufacturers, everyone is united in the same goal. While visiting their new store, we spoke with Riley Studio's CEO Olivia Dowie, who has been leading the brand to sustainable success for the past year:
Why did you launch Riley Studio?
The fashion industry is one of the worst polluters but we want to demonstrate how to turn waste materials into environmentally friendly pieces. We combine sustainability and style, creating beautiful, design-led pieces that people actually want to wear.
Can you tell us about the pieces in the collection?
We’re looking to create an entire sustainable wardrobe to offer people eco alternatives to everyday essentials, such as long-sleeved t-shirts, tailored trousers, jogging bottoms, and so on. All of our pieces are durable, ageless, seasonless and timeless.
How do you champion sustainability?
A big part of the brand is shouting about the benefits of recycled materials and the impact we can have; one of our t-shirts alone saves 1,500 litres of water. We aren’t seasonal, instead we launch small collections twice a year, and we offer a lifetime guarantee, meaning we repair pieces for free. Rather than throw old pieces away, we can take these back from a customer and repurpose them for the next person. Our goal is to work towards a completely circular model.
How are you doing things differently in the fashion world?
A big part of our ethos is transparency so we tell people about our partners by naming our suppliers and manufacturers. A lot of fashion brands don’t do that. We have minimum wage as an absolute basic and we also offer traceability by explaining where every part of a garment has come from, such as buttons and labels.
Can you tell us about your store concept?
This is our first physical store and the whole concept is called ‘from waste to wardrobe.’ We show everyone the journey of our clothes; starting by shredding garments, presenting the raw materials generated from that process, and then displaying the final product.
How did you decide on the store layout, design, and location?
We had a very specific area in mind because we wanted to be amongst like-minded brands. Seeing as we’re running five events over the next two weeks, the layout needed to lend itself well to panels, networking, and so on. We also needed enough room to showcase other sustainable brands without smothering our own products. The light had to be perfect too so that our space looked more like a gallery than just another pop-up. Appear Here has been great, they’ve been really supportive across the board.
People can’t actually believe our pieces are made from plastic bottles, so a store means customers can touch the products and see how soft they are. We want to organise one or two pop-ups a year, but we will always sell online primarily to make sure we’re minimising our carbon footprint. Another key reason for our concept store is to educate the consumer about the story of the clothes and the impact every garment has on the environment. This is why we partnered with Stories Behind Things, so we could encourage people to think about where clothes go after they’ve been worn. As Annie Leonard said: “There is no such thing as ‘away.’ When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.”