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‘I describe myself as a fashion designer who hates fashion’

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The purpose of my slow fashion luxury brand Beira, which I co-founded almost five years ago with my business partner Flavio Forlani, is to disrupt an industry that has hyper-normalised fast fashion and ultra-consumerism.

To give you some context, prior to becoming a purpose-led entrepreneur I spent 15 years as an academic. I spent a lot of time researching and lecturing on the business of fashion and its negative impact on the environment, its lack of economic viability and social inequality.

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But, like many other experts, it was only over time and through education I concluded the fashion system was, and still is, broken.

The problems range from the fast-paced fashion calendar to the overproduction of goods that encourage, and ultimately depend on, overconsumption to sustain a broken economic model.

And that’s only the start.

The lack of traceability and transparency in the fragmented supply chains, the exploitation of land, labour, and exotic animals, and the level of greenwashing that has seen sustainability become a profit-driven marketing strategy rather than inherent to business values, also play a key role.

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I must confess; I was not always so sustainable and ethical. I am still a recovering Zara addict. My fast fashion habit resulted in overflowing wardrobe of clothes that gave me very little joy. They, in fact, led me to an overwhelming feeling of guilt. So, I made the fateful decision to embrace conscious consumerism. Ultimately, it changed my life, allowing me to realise the dream of launching my own slow-luxury brand, Beira, which crafts limited-edition investment products for the discerning conscious consumer.

The story begins with Flavio and me, trying to solve three problems; how to produce beautiful, timeless clothing, that is ethically and sustainably sourced and that doesn’t cost the earth. Flavio, the owner of the Italian world-renowned manufacturing company La Rocca, was increasingly concerned about fabric waste and wanted to minimise his impact on the planet. Beira sources all raw materials through embracing the circular economy. Essentially, we buy waste for the luxury fashion industry and craft it into limited edition luxury products using the finest fabrics and beautiful tailored designs rooted in Italian craftsmanship.

As a purpose-led business, we always put people first. We pay the artisans more than a living wage and adopt a radically transparent approach to pricing that allows our customers to see what makes up the cost of each crafted piece of the collection.

We are proud to have replicated our tried and tested Italian circular economy model in Scotland and Hong Kong. Now we are sourcing waste from the luxury fashion industry around and the world and designing timeless, investment womenswear for the discerning conscious consumer.

Our garments are made to last and be loved for a lifetime.

Retail is a tough industry. For the first four years we were self-funded and, to be honest, we were very small, as I was not truly ready for the steps needed to grow my business.

Post-Covid everything changed, and I had huge plans for the business.

We started by investing in pop up stores throughout Edinburgh and managed to achieve a 420% increase in sales. Last year, after four attempts we finally won a Scottish Edge Net Zero Award.

This allowed us to open our first permanent store in Stockbridge, Edinburgh, invest in Made in Scotland and grow our team.

Funding is an aspect of the business which I still feel uncomfortable with – like most female entrepreneurs I had low confidence and self-doubt about applying for funding.

Amazingly, I recently secured a place with Women’s Enterprise Scotland’s crowdfunding pilot which launches on the Nov 1st.

If the Crowdfunder is successful, we will be able to further invest in made in Scotland and support additional local jobs. Like every prepped entrepreneur, I have an ask for you. Please hate fashion with me and fall back in love with beautiful, responsible clothing to last a lifetime.

Let’s invest – don’t just digest fashion. Imagine a world where we all make positive ethical choices for our future, our planet and ourselves. Together we can change the future of fashion.

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