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Fashion Lifestyle Style Sustainability

An interview with Mother of Pearl’s Amy Powney

She’s gone from studio assistant to helming the sustainable label that’s on everyone’s lips; we meet Mother of Pearl’s Amy Powney – the fashion designer who’s on a mission to change the way women shop.

Amy Powney

What does sustainability mean to you? 

I can’t think of a more important conversation right now than climate change, the future of all our homes, the quality of our lives and all that inhabit it. Not many people know, but the fashion and textile industry is one of the top contributors to climate change – this is why it’s such an important topic and a conversation that we all need to collectively feed into to make positive change together. 

Mother of Pearl x BBC Earth
Image – Mother of Pearl

How do you educate yourself on the sustainable changes you need to make – as a person and as a brand?

Sustainability is a mindset, once you’ve started questioning things and opening your eyes, it will naturally infiltrate into every single thing you do. Research is key, finding solutions that give you what is needed with the least possible impact on people and the planet. My team and I simply started with Google; it takes time to research, but it is possible to find solutions and implement better practices. Mother of Pearl embraces sustainability from a holistic point of view: from restructuring the supply chain in accordance to fully ethical practices to creating a plastic bottle-free studio and low-waste working environment in our London HQ. Sustainability shouldn’t mean missing out. I see it as an opportunity to look into ways of doing things differently. On a personal level, I’m trying to reduce my air travel, so last summer I took the train to Avignon in the South of France; I definitely didn’t feel deprived, in fact the opposite, it was one of my favorite holidays with great friends. I’m also trying to buy second hand and rent as much as possible for my baby, where I do have to buy I am trying to make sure it’s the things needed for a long time or sustainable pieces I can keep or pass onto a friend. 

Mother of Pearl’s No Frills

Winning the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2017 allowed you to launch your No Frills collection – what was the most important thing that you learned from this?

Through exploring our supply chain and looking into how we can re-develop the way we create at Mother of Pearl, we actually ended up making savings (which surprised us all!) and found we could sell classic pieces for lower prices, this is how “No Frills” was born; a fully sustainable line of core classics for everyday wear. Everything we have learnt, and continue to learn, infiltrates all of our processes throughout the Mother of Pearl collections.  

What do you want the Mother of Pearl legacy to be?

Sustainability is the backbone of everything we do at Mother of Pearl and every piece we make has sustainability in mind. Our aim with all the work we have been doing is to not only offer a product, but to start a movement. My next mission is to use social media to empower and educate about the impact of fashion on the planet and how we can work together to make a change – stay tuned!

What kind of Mother of Pearl pieces can customers now rent or buy from MY WADRROBE HQ?

We curated a mix of our sustainably produced eveningwear collections – pieces that you can really paint the town green in! We love them paired with a chunky earring and a statement heel!

Phoebe Waller-Bridge wearing Mother of Pearl’s Emmie dress at Cannes 2018
Borrow or Buy it here

And if you could choose a favourite piece?

Our beautiful green Emmie dress which was worn by actress, producer and writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the Cannes Film awards in 2018. 

What sustainable hack should we be adopting for the New Year?

I always stand by some basic tips to live more sustainably; change your energy supplier to a green one, shop less but buy better quality (or try renting!), swap meat for vegetarian for as many days per week as you can, support local farm to home businesses for your food and buy a re-useable water bottle and coffee cup. These things are easy to do and make a huge difference, some of them cost a little more and others a little less so it evens out. 

Who should we be following on Instagram?

@gretathunberg for a reminder that no one is too small to make a difference 

@celestebarber for laughs

@thismuchiknow.news for insightful news summaries 

Last podcast you listened to or Netflix boxset you watched and why we need to be tuned in…

One Strange Rock is the most incredible eye-opening documentary I’ve seen in years. Narrated by Will Smith, this series shares the perspectives of our planet through the voices of eight astronauts.

Jameela Jamil

Who inspires you and why…

Jameela Jamil because she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and the way she has used social media to create an incredible community with @Iweigh.  

How are you spending the festive season?

As I’m 8 months pregnant, I will be firmly putting my feet up in my London home and not travelling. I will be eating my way through delicious food, hanging out with my husband and having a quiet one. I will of course be working on my new social media project launching next year but from the comfort of my sofa probably with hypnobirthing audio in the background! 

Borrow or Buy Mother of Pearl only on www.mywardrobehq.com

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Fashion In My Wardrobe

In MyWardrobe with Chinti & Parker

Chinti & Parker AW19

When it comes to luxury knitwear, few labels can boast the success of British label Chinti & Parker. Created by cousins Anna Singh and Rachael Wood who wanted to bring “effortless style to every occasion”, the label is instantly recognisable thanks to its playful cuts and timeless design in a riot of colour, often clashing or in print form. Counting fans in Gwyneth Paltrow, Poppy Delevingne and Alexa Chung, the label now offers ready to wear made up of elegant dresses and skirts, tailoring, staple tees and not to mention its iconic knitwear. Now available to rent or buy from MY WARDROBE HQ, we caught up with Rachael to ask her about her favourite AW19 items and who we should be following on Instagram….

What is your favourite piece from the AW19 collection? Chinti & Parker has been built around bold colour and bright, playful designs, and in our AW19 collection my favourite look has to be the purple Pop Colour look. It’s top to toe bold, bright colour and pulls together a super flattering high waisted tailored trouser with a classic Chinti & Parker cashmere roll neck. It’s a timeless piece which can be worn day or night, and is such a classic style it will last for years.

Chinti & Parker Pop Colour Rent here

How important is sustainability to your production process? Sustainability has been built into the Chinti & Parker ethos since day dot; 10 years ago we really struggled to find yarns which were organic, ethically sourced or recycled. In the last few years the amount of materials we are now working with which have come from organic sources or are recycled and sustainably sourced has gone through the roof. As we’ve grown as a business we’ve had to adapt and rethink our practises to ensure they are aligned with our sustainable standpoint, which has been a really interesting learning curve.

What are the key pieces people should rent? The colour block shirt dress is so easy to wear, it’s versatile, can be worn from day to night, dressed up or down and a really timeless piece which will withstand the test of time. Then the Eccentric dress is classic Chinti & Parker, it’s bright standout print in a mix of such great colours. It’s so bold that it’s a great rental piece to wear to an event where you really want to stand out. Lastly, the Green Dot sweater is another really signature Chinti & Parker piece, it’s fun, playful and classic.   

Eccentric dress. Rent here

Name your go-to favourite restaurant? This has to be The River Café, you cannot go there and have a negative experience, it’s just not possible! It’s so lovely to sit outside next to the river in the summer and watch the sun go down.

What’s your approach to borrowing fashion items? My Chinti & Parker Co-Founder and cousin, Anna Singh and I have a very interchangeable wardrobe, we borrow from each other all the time! We have a very different style, and wear any borrowed items very differently, but it just goes to show how versatile classic items are to style.

Rachael and Anna

Three people we should be following on Instagram… Chinti & Parker, obviously! I think Celeste Barber is hilarious, I can’t get enough of her and if Phoebe Waller-Bridge had an Instagram I would follow her religiously. At present I’m having to make do with following her fan accounts and reruns of Fleabag.

Celeste Barber #challengeaccepted

What books or podcasts are on your mind at the moment? The last book I read was A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, it’s set in India and the narrative takes you through the changes in Indian society in the last century, it’s a really interesting read! Then with podcasts, I love a true crime podcast and the last one I listened to was The Teacher’s Pet. Which is about an Australian mother who disappeared in 1982 without a trace. It focusses on her relationship with her husband, a teacher, and his affair with a school girl… and I won’t say any more but it’s definitely worth a listen if it sounds up your street.

Who inspires you? All the women within my family are hugely inspiring to me, particularly my granny who came from India not knowing anyone in the UK and not knowing a word of English and all of our family’s successes stem from her determination and drive. Any women who are unapologetic about who they are and refuse to take life too seriously are also hugely inspirational, key names again are Celeste Barber and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

How do you live a more sustainable life? It was a conscious decision to launch Chinti & Parker with a sustainable ethos, and this is intrinsically linked into my personal life. There’s little things that everyone can do, which all add up and make a difference, such as; turning the lights off, taking canvas bags everywhere with you and switching to natural washing products. Then there’s also slowing down your rate of consuming products, such as finding key pieces which you know you will wear forever, that you know you can mend and that will withstand the test of time. If there’s anything you’re unsure about purchasing, try before you buy!

Rent and buy Chinti & Parker on MY WARDROBE HQ

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Fashion MWHQ Saving the Grace Style Sustainability

Saving the Grace: My Sustainable Wardrobe

It was only in June 2018 that I was a self-confessed fast fashion addict; buying clothes with each new season and always knowing about the latest Zara drop. Yet one month later, I radically transformed my shopping habits and instead turned to a more sustainable wardrobe.

In July 2018 I quit fast fashion for good. Quit for the sake of the planet and the world’s waters. Yes, I went cold turkey. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that the initial transition to slow and conscious consumption was hard. But I saw it as an opportunity to explore new sustainable brands, make second hand clothes my go-to, and started clothes sales pop-up with friends (a great way to top up your own wardrobe)

There’s a new addition to my sustainable wardrobe – clothing rental – and it’s here to stay as a regular for any event.

Despite being a sustainable living advocate, I like most other young women, want something ‘new’ to wear to a party. The social pressure and self-expectation to wear something ‘unphotographed’ for each event is solved sustainably by renting a dress instead of going out and buying one. As Livia Firth, founder of Eco-age would say, unless it will get 30 wears, don’t buy it! 

I recently tried the My Wardrobe HQ ‘My Dressing Room’service to rent a dress for a Sheerluxe show appearance. I was blown away by the quality of service and the selection of dresses available to rent.

with Lily from MWHQ

As someone who hates online shopping (in my opinion it removes the experience of feeling the clothes and trying them on), the Dressing Room service has all of this… and the style advice. It’s as if you’re shopping with a friend in the comfort of your own home. I was sold! You can see my excitement here.

Wearing Malene Oddershede Bach white dress from Chloe Delevingne’s wardrobe

Written by Emily Broughton, Founder of Saving the Grace – a sustainable living platform focusing on 5 areas of change: lifestyle, food, fashion, wellness and action in the world, to save our world’s waters through empowerment and education. 

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Fashion MWHQ Saving the Grace Sustainability

Clothing Rental: A solution for every party and our planet

If you hadn’t heard already, clothing rental is in. And there is good reason…

Clothing rental is a revolution in how we use our clothes – it could call an end to those disposal clothing purchases brought solely for a single event, where a photo on Instagram means that the dress never sees the light of day again. Clothing rental is a solution. It’s time to rent a dress, or two. 

Empowering Women

The modern woman is empowered through fashion. Fashion creates our identity; an expression of who we are, and who we project ourselves to be. With each event and party, brings an opportunity to show the world who we are as women. 

Temptation of Fast Fashion

With this has come an endless choice of pieces, paraded to us in shop windows, discounts galore, the tempting walk down a high street, or purely in the comfort of our home, it’s hard not to spend money on fashion when we see influencers, and celebrities wearing the latest designer pieces that we only hope will look half as good on our bodies. 

Yet the endless shopping is taking a strain on our bank accounts (the dreaded fear of looking at one’s balance after a shopping spree online the night before… is an experience that is far too common for women like myself). British women have 60% more clothing and keeping them for half as long as 15 years ago; wardrobes filled with both fast, and/or designer fashion.

Fashion’s Impact on Women & the Planet

And while fashion is a source of freedom for many women, the creative expression of their clothes is an oppressor for the women making the clothes. Fashion Revolution has brought light to this through the campaign #whomademyclothes and is asking consumers to ask these questions. 

Stacey Dooley stands where there was once the Aral Sea
BBC/HELLO HALO/OLIVIA STRONG

There are also bigger environmental problems as a result of fashion. Water the source of all life for the world is being put under pressure for the constant demand for cotton and other materials. Stacey Dooley’s documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’, and its exposé on the Aral Sea that has lost over 80% of its water proved just have threatening the fast fashion industry can be. 

Fashion & Water

The fashion industry is the third most polluting industry of water on the planet after oil and paper, communities are left to use toxic water contaminated by the chemicals that make our clothes which is causing serious diseases and cancers in much of the developing world. 

But the environmental impacts of fashion should not stop us from the liberation that fashion has given to women – it should only make us change how we consume it. There is no need to buy a dress, when we can rent one.

Sharing Economy & Clothing Rental 

Thankfully the sharing economy is coming to centre stage of fashion as we slow down our actions. Fashion rental is the equivalent of shopping online (with far cheaper prices) and you can ‘own’ the item(s) from 7 to 365 days. Each service works slightly differently, however MY WARDROBE HQ (who recently teamed up with fellow rental platform Wear the Walk) holds the stock and offers a concierge styling service to help you choose the perfect dress for any occasion.

Written by Emily Broughton, Founder of Saving the Grace – a sustainable living platform focusing on 5 areas of change: lifestyle, food, fashion, wellness and action in the world, to save our world’s waters through empowerment and education. 

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Fashion In My Wardrobe MWHQ MyStory

In My Wardrobe….with Madeleine Macey

With a career spanning fashion brands Temperley London and Manolo Blahnik, it’s little surprise that Liberty London‘s Chief Marketing Officer Madeleine Macey has one of the most extensive and desirable wardrobes in London. Filled with floor-sweeping gowns, sample sale and vintage shop finds from Burberry, Vilshenko, Stella Jean, and plenty of Temperley London, each piece comes with its own fantastical story that’s as exciting and effervescent as its wardrobe owner.

Having cut her teeth as a showroom model for Roland Mouret, it seemed only natural for Madeleine to wear some of the pieces for a photoshoot in her balmy Bali-esque back garden – all of which can now be rented and bought exclusively on MY WARDROBE HQ.

We sat down with Madeleine to chat Elton John and Naomi, modelling for Glyndebourne and the female artists we should be following now…

MyStory…black Roland Mouret dress. This dress was a gift from Roland Mouret to me from one of his earliest collections. I wore it to one of the most amazing events of my life held at Hampton Court Palace, where Elton John played live to an intimate crowd of extraordinary people raising money for an important Russian children’s charity. Also, a particularly memorable moment was when Naomi Campbell literally used me as a crutch to walk her across the palace’s cobblestones in her ridiculous shoes. I can’t say it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship… 

Roland Mouret dress available to rent on MY WARDROBE HQ

Your earliest fashion memory…My mother used to work as a guide at Bath’s Fashion & Textile museum so I’ve been surrounded by many references from a very early age.  But the first penetrating fashion moment that really shaped my love of fashion was at 16 when I saw a video of the iconic white jersey cutout gown by Tom Ford for Gucci from his 1996 white gown era strutting down the runway…. I’ve been chasing that look and feel ever since. 

GUCCI by Tom Ford AW’96

What’s in your little black book? Corsica is a place I visit every year. I try to explore a new region every time – it’s so untouched and beautiful and the Corsican’s are such a proud and brilliant people. Please don’t go there, I want it to remain empty!

Favourite items you’ve borrowed… My family loves going to Glyndebourne. As a child I’d watch my mother get ready for the great summer moment and these dresses were highly coveted. It was a lovely moment when a couple of years ago, they chose me to be their poster girl wearing one of my beautiful Temperley dresses with an Osman jacket – it was like I’d completed a piece of personal history!

Your most visited tabs on your laptop..I almost exclusively operate by iPhone … I wonder if we’ll have laptops in the next few years??

Three people we should be following Instagram… My best friend @Andrewarginarmstrong. He is hilarious and can wear a hat and a statement earring better than anyone known. His feed makes me happy. @benpenreath for ultimate house inspiration and how I plan to live when I’m a grown up. @thegreatwomanartists. A powerful curation of all the extraordinary female artists you are yet to hear about and need to. 

Painting by Mamma Andersson

Where you go or what you do when you want to feel inspired? Tour a National Trust property. 

A sustainable switch you’ve adopted that you try and live by every day… My fashion shopping habits have massively changed. I am more likely to be trawling the charity shops than designer floors. Once you get the hang of the fruitful areas of London and the well edited stores, you will be amazed what you can find. I discovered this Armani 1990s show stopper which can now be rented on MY WARDROBE HQ

Armani dress available to rent on MY WARDROBE HQ

Rent Madeleine’s wardrobe including these dresses by registering on MY WARDROBE HQ or contacting info@mywardrobehq.com

Feather print gown, black lace gown and white lace gown all Temperley London, oyster lace dress Luisa Beccaria, yellow dress Nehera, maroon gown Roland Mouret.

Photographer Chris Pugh; Stylist Alessia Farnesi