It’s clear that we need to design, create and buy better in fashion — a push for best practices in both the environmental and social sides of fashion has major global resonance today. Throughout January, we highlight five exciting labels from around the world leading the way in stylish sustainability. The first stop of our journey is Pangaia.
Quickly rising to eco-fashion superstardom is Pangaia, a materials- science-led fashion label that takes its name from Pan, meaning all-inclusive, and Gaia, the theory of Earth as a self-activating organism. The collective at the helm of the brand specialises in technology, design, marketing, supply chain and science – with departments functioning in cahoots with each other rather than in a typical fashion corporate structure.
Catering in cool, essential basics, such as sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, winter puffa jackets in neutrals and of-the-moment hues, it’s already garnered a host of celebrity and conscious fashion fans – with key pieces quickly selling out online. The aesthetic is joyful and the business model is one of radical transparency, in materials, development, supply chains and tech. “I call our approach ‘high-tech naturalism’,” says Dr Amanda Parkes, Pangaia’s chief innovation officer. “The transparency goes hand in hand with innovation, as there’s no point in having great materials and a terrible factory that makes the clothes. We work with a holistic approach; when we measure impact, we have to measure every single part of it.”
At the brand’s core is a focus on innovative tech, natural sustainable resources and bio-engineered materials, making items that are meant to be lived in by everyone – all age groups, characters and genders. This can be seen in Pangaia’s campaigns and visuals that demonstrate its breakthrough smart technology and philosophical commitment to using as many recycled, sustainable, bio-based and bio-degradable elements as possible. This means that recycled plastic bottles, excess agricultural materials and botanical plant dyes are all making it into these comfy wardrobe essentials. Despite the focus being on basics and essentials – a closer look reveals sophisticated details (not always visible) and chic shapes – there’s a nod to clever, fashion-forward design.
“We like to say that we bring products for a reason, not a season,” Parkes adds. “We try to have items that are ‘product solving’.” Case in point is the seaweed and cotton T-shirt infused with peppermint oil in a high-tech manner that retains the anti-bacterial, anti-odour and freshening properties of the oil, wash after wash. Then there are the just-launched winter puffa coats and jackets, made with a recycled nylon casing and FLWRDWN, Pangaia’s proprietary replacement for animal-feather down insulation created from a high-tech formula using wildflower agricultural waste mixed with a biopolymer and infused with aerogel. Durable, performance driven, yet friendlier to animals and the environment, as well as using recycled materials, the series is a coup of sustainable fashion futurism.
But Pangaia, as hinted by the high-profile leaders involved, has ambitions of being far more than just another eco fashion label. Its business plans are aimed at starting a whole movement within the industry and impacting change way beyond its own commercial sales. “We’re fully developing a platform in the future, where we work with companies to co-develop processes and textiles – that part we’re trying to grow next year,” says Parkes.
The brand has been in the making for many years already, but bridging the gap between hardcore science, production scalability, sustainability and fashion kudos is no easy feat. In its goal of designing a better future for the whole of fashion, Pangaia has emerged a leader in the field with quite a mind-boggling new and radical approach to making clothing that, it’s hoped, others will follow. “I call a lot of my job scientific diplomacy,” Parkes explains. “What we try to do is build bridges between sectors, business, start-ups, the nitty gritty. And by investing in these start-ups, we wanted to show other companies that it was possible.”