For years now, many fashion brands have added sustainability to their vocabulary and, through research and proposals, have tried to lessen the fashion industry’s huge impact on the environment. However, despite the efforts, many are still the fast-fashion brands ignoring the issue. The problem is that, no matter how sustainable they deem they are, we are still living in a fast-paced environment where new clothes and accessories come out every season.
However some brands have been giving the word sustainability an entirely different meaning. Founded in 2016, Revival London is a fashion reconstruction brand dedicated to planet preservation through waste reduction and specialising in the reworking of discarded textiles. Conceptual limited edition capsule collections are released twice a year and made entirely using reclaimed garments and fabric which are deconstructed and redesigned. The brand’s main aim? To reduce textile waste in the fashion industry, eradicate fast and disposable fashion culture and make textile education more accessible.
Rosette Ale, founder of the brand, explained to me that fashion quickly became her main form of expression for her big personality. “I loved creating different looks everyday. Charity shops and vintage markets became my go-to and I began to buy things which had potential rather than just pretty looking items and then rework them when I got home. Despite wanting to shop in the “normal” fast fashion stores on the high street like my peers, I didn’t have much money growing up so I learned to make old clothes look cool,” she explains.
“With news stories such as the Rana Plaza disaster, I found out more about where these fast fashion clothes were made and how they were operating through cheap, exploitative labour and polluting our planet. I became more and more concerned with these issues and hence, felt compelled to start my own enterprise and make a change in the industry. The inspiration behind my business idea is a fusion of my love for fashion and my desire to make a positive change in the world. I came to realise that God had placed this talent in me so that I could help others express themselves but also have a greater impact. Not only do I want to create stylish garments, but I also want to inspire consumers and other brands to shop more consciously and be more creative with their wardrobe.”
And so, Revival London was born. As a sustainable contemporary yet luxury brand, Revival offers a type of slow fashion that manages to be stylish and timeless at the same time. With unexpected pieces such as their denim crop top made from discarded jeans, the garments are thoughtful and designed to make you feel confident. “Revival has evolved into a more refined and sophisticated brand which has a bold aesthetic and the inspiration and concepts behind our capsule collections have more depth each time,” Rosette tells me. “I’m really excited to see how we continue to grow and I’m really focused on putting more of my heritage and cultural background into the designs. I’ve gained more and more skills over the past few years as I try to challenge myself with creating a garment I’ve never made before so this definitely forces me out of my comfort zone. I have also attempted using other fabrics such as knit and PU so this has opened my mind up to different textiles which I definitely want to embrace in the future as Revival grows.”
With such an interesting outlook on fashion, Rosette’s design process starts with a lot of research for a particular concept or a story idea and it eventually evolves into drawing. Drawings that, as she tells me, usually tend to evolve into something else, giving her room for news ideas and inspirations. “My main inspiration or muse is Solange Knowles as everything she creates is like a piece of artwork - so well thought out and quirky and weird. I love her whole aesthetic and she is my dream muse for Revival. I also just take a lot of inspiration from the world around me and the weird and wonderful thoughts in my mind,” she adds.
Unfortunately, 2020 has been quite a rough year for independent brands – let alone sustainable ones. “It’s been challenging as I officially began selling at the end of 2019 so I had planned 2020 to be the year of growth and also to have more face to face interaction with potential customers through pop-up shops. It’s been especially difficult with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement and disproportionate deaths of black people from the virus so it’s been incredibly emotional and heavy,” she shares.
“As a black woman living in the UK, it’s been really difficult to stomach all of this so I took some breaks from Revival and my personal social media to get restore my strength and mental capacity to keep going. However, on the bright side, there have been some great things that have happened through the crisis such as people supporting more small, independent brands like ourselves, a great reception with our denim face masks, new gift card offering and also a brilliant new campaign called ‘Black Pound Day’ to support and empower black-owned businesses in the UK.”
Hopefully, with the help of slacktivism, more brands like Revival will thrive in the months to come. It’s so important to support independent brands with a clear mission – especially those like Revival who deeply care about specific causes. “Representation is so important to us as a brand and that has been and will always be at the centre of what we do. We are committed to reducing textile waste in the fashion industry both during and post-production by working with factories, retailers and consumers to rescue offcuts and textiles that would have otherwise been sent to landfill. We also aim to encourage more conscious shopping habits amongst consumers and eradicate the culture of fast and disposable fashion by sharing tips and ideas on how to live more sustainably. And lastly, we are keen to increase the education of textiles and sewing skills in as many households and schools as possible to make it more accessible.”
What Rosette has managed to create, throughout the years, isn’t just an independent and sustainable brand but rather a community with a mission, deeply caring for the environment and for others and committed to do better and be better.
Any plans for the rest of the year? “Yes, we’ll be launching a new capsule collection later in July which I’m really excited about as it’s heavily inspired by my heritage! We’re also planning to host some (digital) workshops & tutorials later on in the year to educate more people on easy sewing skills,” she concludes.