Mother of Pearl’s wisdom of sustainability
The premium women’s clothing brand Mother of Pearl is focused on being as sustainable as possible.
Artistic Director Amy Powney has been at the helm of the label for 15 years. She started out “sweeping the cutting room floor” as a studio assistant, and was appointed Creative Director in 2014.
Powney spent much of his childhood living off-grid with his parents in Lancashire, which sparked his interest in a sustainable lifestyle. Mother of Pearl won the BFC (British Fashion Council) / Vogue Designer Fund in 2017, which enabled Powney to research and introduce sustainable practices that the brand quickly adopted.
Mother of Pearl encourages shoppers to build a wardrobe of basic items, instead of buying fast fashion. It strives to reduce its impact on the environment by using materials such as organic cotton, traces the raw materials it uses to ensure its social responsibility and minimizes its carbon footprint by aiming to manufacture as many products as possible in one country.
The silhouettes of Mother of Pearl are relaxed and loose. A classic color palette of navy, gray, cream and sand forms the basis of a durable wardrobe. The faux pearl embellishments on the shoulders and sleeves are the signature detail of the brand.
Mother of Pearl sells direct to the consumer online and ships internationally. Its dealers include Net-a-Porter, John Lewis, The Outnet, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Comme Ca in Denmark, Noun 1906 in Sweden, and Parlor X in Sydney, Australia.
Retail prices range from £ 95 for a t-shirt to £ 595 for a longline woolen coat. Wholesale prices range from £ 46 for a t-shirt to £ 120 for dresses and £ 220 for coats.
In April, the brand launched a rental service, where consumers can rent selected parts directly from its direct-to-consumer website – a service powered by the Onloan platform.
Powney lives in Walthamstow, east London, with her husband, a 22-month-old daughter who turns two in January, cat and dog. Drapers learns more about why Powney puts sustainability at the heart of Mother of Pearl.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
My daughter is usually my alarm clock, because she gets up early, so the first thing I do is pick her up from her crib, where she surrounds herself with her entourage of teddy bears, and we find her catching up with them in the morning. . Then it’s breakfast and preparation for a toddler and myself, which is a job before the start of the day.
What was your first job?
My first job was on a radish farm, labeling packages and making boxes. I grew up in a farming community, so I did a lot of farm work on weekends and during school vacations. I also had residency at the local fish and chips until I went to college.
I studied a GNVQ in art and design, and a foundation art course at Runshaw College [in Lancashire], then a bachelor’s degree in fashion from Kingston University. I did a few years of internship for Giles Deacon during and after graduation, but shortly after graduation I started at Mother of Pearl, and have been there – 15 years this year.
How would you describe the brand?
Mother of Pearl is a responsible, contemporary womenswear brand that places sustainability and transparency at the heart of everything we do.
What is your coffee (or tea) order?
Maybe one of the only things I’ve managed to do with my health on a regular basis is herbal teas above all else. It saves a lot of coffee cups, caffeine peaks and troughs and money.
Outside of Covid, what is the biggest challenge facing the fashion industry?
It requires a complete system reset and a change in consumer behavior. We need to get back to valuing clothes as beautifully designed pieces, not disposable items. If an item of clothing can be sold for £ 2.50, something is wrong somewhere on the line.
The system should slow down. We need to invest in basic wardrobe pieces that stand the test of time and are made by brands with the right values. We need to consider closed-loop systems that encourage us to rent, repair and recycle, replacing our impulse buying.
We need to innovate and change the fast and old fashioned cycle of clothing production.
What do you think the fashion industry can learn from Covid-19?
Covid has given us all time to stop and think. For me, that meant reflecting on our business and using the calm to refocus for the best. We all learned to communicate without traveling, and we spent some time without fashion weeks or catwalks. I think this was a chance to reset and create your own rules, and not having to go with the crowd anymore.
Where are your favorite places to shop?
I rarely buy anything, but when I do, I invest in basic wardrobe pieces, mostly mother of pearl, but otherwise from brands that I trust and have researched. on the company, or who offer sustainable products, such as Tencel or recycled natural materials.
Usually I only buy what I need, and we invest in products that last. I am becoming more and more of a minimal defender; things only add an emotional baggage – not to mention more time to sort and clean and less time to live.
Last fashion purchase?
Monica Vinader jewelry. It is committed to using only recycled gold and silver in all of its products.
Emails or phone calls?
Email, phone, WhatsApp, Zoom, Microsoft Teams – communication in the modern age is endless.
What is the most important lesson you have learned in your career?
My favorite quote sums it up: “I always wondered why someone hadn’t done anything about it – then I realized I was somebody.”
What’s the last book you read?
It has been a long time. I’ve never been an avid reader – I prefer documentaries because I’ve always been a visual learner, but also after having a baby I don’t think I’ve read a book or watched TV for a few years. The last book I read was Sapiens: a brief history of humanity [by Yuval Noah Harari].
Who in the fashion / retail industry inspires you?
She is not in the fashion business but someone who I think does an amazing job bringing attention to so many issues on our planet and who is a real voice for change is [social justice campaigner] Alice Aedy.
What advice would you give to your young self?
Be true to yourself and your beliefs, and don’t be afraid of not fitting in.
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
My husband is my best friend, so he is my arm to support me, but my colleague Chloe is my sounding board for thinking and rethinking ideas with me.
What are you looking forward to the most for the coming year?
I have some really exciting things happening next year. First it will be a brilliant product collaboration, which will be unveiled in February, and then later in the year, I’ll be launching something that has lasted almost five years. Both are completely new spaces for me, so it opened my eyes to work on them and I learned a lot.
In general, though – and this goes beyond next year – I just want to show the world what can be done and what you can accomplish when you open your mind, question the world and its systems, and stay self-reliant. and tell the truth.