Ethical fashion from England: Jane Olley interview - Annie Greenabelle founder

Annie Greenabelle, is an ethical womens clothing brand from UK. Their garments are made of organic and Fairtrade certified cotton. I was talking to Jane Olley, Annie Greenabelle founder. She told me about her amazing brand and also gave me some interesting tips.

Tell us more about Annie Greenabelle. When was founded ? How the brand has evolved since its launch?
Annie Greenabelle was launched in September 2007, after two long years of research, into the idea of establishing an ethical label that would combine the use of organically grown, and Fairtrade certified cottons and reclaimed fabrics. .
We launched initially with a small concession in Topshop Oxford circus, but we now supply about 6 new styles every week to Topshop.com who offer about 70 Annie Greenabelle lines at all times.
Topshop.com ship to over 100 countries around the world . but we are now also stocked in many independent boutiques.

What is the philosophy of the brand?
Here at Annie Greenabelle we don’t believe that anyone or anything should be treated badly in the pursuit of a “bargain” piece of clothing. . In the words of Mahatma Gandhi “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness ”

How would you describe the style of Annie Greenabelle?
Our cotton dresses have a vintage edge to them and all our garments are quite feminine.
As, obviously, there isn't such a thing as an organic sequin or metal embellishment, to balance the eco with the luxury in our line we tend to give lots of attention to details, clever pin tucking and ruching, delicate trims , and pretty fabric covered buttons feature heavily on our garments. However, we do dye and print our organic certified cotton / elastane here in the UK, and so for this reason we can react very quickly to trends .

Which designers have inspired Annie Greenabelle through the years?
Unfortunately, I can’t think of many designers who are working in an eco way. However, having said that, I do like the ideas and principles of Stella McCartney who works not dissimilarly to us, and of course there is Katherine Hamnett who brought awareness and began lobbying for changes in the way the industry operated way back in 1989.

About buying online: Do you ship worldwide?
We are stocked in independent boutiques worldwide and we also ship wordwide from our own site Anniegreenabelle.com, Topshop.com deliver to 100 countries too.

What advice would you give to emerging designers who are interested in Sustainability?
Design clothes that are meant to last and that won't be thrown into landfill in a couple of months’ time. Try and use organic certified cotton. Conventional cotton farming is one of the most environmentally destructive agricultural practices—harming the air, water, soil, and farmers’ health and safety. The blame for that harm lies mainly with the huge amounts of pesticides used in conventional cotton farming. Although cotton occupies three percent of the world's farmland, it uses more than ten percent of the pesticides, a category that includes herbicides , insecticides and defoliants. However, failing that you could , try recycled materials – I believe it always better to do something than nothing. Also it is very important to examine your workplace environments – are the factories you are using safe? Do the employees get a fair wage and acceptable hours ? Are they using child labour? Are the mills following good practices? Finally look at transport - Can you ship goods rather than airfreight or source locally to improve your carbon footprint?

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Photos: courtesy of Annie Greenabelle
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