SUSTAINABILITY

MISSION STATEMENT

Almost a decade ago, our founder Jess fell in love with the artisanal skill and expertise of Nepalese makers. This, hand in hand with a dream to produce colourful, contemporary pieces and a passion for the natural world, resulted in Jess creating Orwell + Austen: a brand where people and the planet always come before profit. 

Whilst we are incredibly passionate about social and environmental sustainability, we are aware that it is impossible for any fashion brand to be completely sustainable; after all, anything anybody does will take from the planet in some shape or form. For this reason, we prefer to call ourselves an “eco-conscious” brand; however, we do understand that consumers are more familiar with “sustainable”, so we do use the term from time to time. 

We strive to minimise our impact on the environment as much as possible, be that through producing to demand, using recycled yarns, or offsetting our carbon emissions. We understand that these aren’t the ultimate solutions, but they are undoubtedly steps in the right direction.

WHAT WE'RE DOING WELL

Our Partner Artisans

Socially ethical production is at the heart of Orwell + Austen. From the brand’s very beginning, we have worked with the same small, ethical, family-run producer in the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal - an area globally renowned for the quality of their cashmere and knitwear products. Our founder, Jess, regularly visits the factory herself (COVID permitting, of course), ensuring a collaborative and respectful relationship with the makers.
Our garment workers specialise ...

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Slow Fashion

We have always championed the idea of buying less and buying better. We believe that an Orwell + Austen piece isn’t just for one season, but it is rather a garment that you will wear for years to come. With this in mind, we strive to provide our customers with designs that are incredibly versatile and that can be styled effortlessly for an infinite number of occasions, but which also ...

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Small Order Runs

We only ever order what we know will be sold; likewise, we only re-order products when they are completely sold out. This minimises waste since there is no excess product and helps us to keep our carbon emissions to a minimum. On top of this, it ensures that we do not place unnecessary pressure and unrealistic production targets on the artisans who create our pieces.
We frequently work to a pre-order ...

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Packaging

Whilst we are aware that there is a pressure to have more bows and ribbons with products at our price point, we consciously choose to limit our packaging as much as possible in order to minimise waste. Currently, our pieces come wrapped in Orwell + Austen branded recycled tissue paper which goes alongside a recycled paper thank you card inside a biodegradable mailer. We occasionally use a branded recycled gift ...

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Zero To Landfill

With upwards of eleven million garments ending up in landfill each week (source: Oxfam) - including pieces returned to brands - we are proud to say that we have an absolute zero-waste-to-landfill policy. This is a commitment that the brand never has, currently does not, and never will stray from.

Any excess stock is offered to our customers at our twice yearly sample sales, whilst older styles that haven’t been ...

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Carbon Offsetting

The reality of using Nepalese artisans means that our knitwear is transported to the UK by air freight; this generally involves putting shipments on commercial flights, or courier flights when the former isn’t possible. Clearly, this isn’t great for our carbon footprint and is thus a contributing factor in deciding to carbon offset each year. An ideal scenario would be to manufacture closer to home, but the difficulty is how ...

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Charity

In the past, we have produced various sweaters with profits going to charity. In 2018, we collaborated with Kat Farmer on our True Colours collection, from which 25% of the profits was donated to The National Autistic Society. In July and August 2020, all of the profits from our Love Rainbow t-shirts sales were donated to an on-the-ground Nepalese charity named Our Sansar in support of their ...

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MATERIALS

Throughout our product range, you will find materials of only the highest quality. Our sweaters and cardigans are made of either recycled cashmere, a cashmere and fine wool blend, and occasionally a very fluffy 100% virgin cashmere (which is the only time we will use 100% virgin cashmere).

Cashmere/Wool

The majority of our pieces are created using a 30% cashmere and 70% fine wool blend. This is more environmentally responsible than other virgin cashmere-heavy compositions for a number of reasons:

• The demand for virgin cashmere has increased ...

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Recycled Cashmere

In an ideal world, we would use recycled cashmere for all of our pieces. This is made out of old 100% cashmere yarn stock which is shredded down; a small quantity of virgin cashmere is then added and ...

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Animal Welfare

All of our cashmere is produced by a supplier who does not shear their goats. Instead, they comb the goats for the fine cashmere hair, leaving the animals with their protective (and coarse) guard hair.

Shearing, whilst faster ...

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Plastic

Our main yarn composition will never include acrylic or plastic derived fibres. The only time we have ever used such yarns has been in the slogan panel of the Disco Sweater, where Lurex has been the only material ...

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Cotton Organic - Fair Wear

All of our cotton t-shirts and sweatshirts are made out of GOTS certified organic cotton, meaning that they meet some of the highest organic standards in the world. You can read more about the requirements here, but ...

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WHAT COULD WE DO BETTER?

Airmiles

The reality of using Nepalese artisans means that our knitwear is transported to the UK by air freight; this generally involves putting shipments on commercial flights, or courier flights when the former isn’t possible. Clearly, this isn’t great for our carbon footprint and is thus a contributing factor in deciding to carbon offset each year. An ideal scenario would be to manufacture closer to home, but the difficulty is how ...

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Looking Towards The Future: Circularity

We are really eager to implement a take-back scheme, where our customers can send in their old sweaters (when truly at the end of their lives) in order to recycle and repurpose the yarns. This would encourage a circularity to the brand - something that is incredibly beneficial to the environment. This is something we are exploring in detail in 2021. As a one person brand we are looking at ...

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