In the countdown to the next London Fashion Week (produced by the British Fashion Council, which runs from September 16-20, 2022), a celebration of design through catwalks and digital activations will take place across the capital.
Yet the sector generally still has a long way to go in response to its immense environmental impact, with the industry accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions.
This leads to an impossible question for sustainable, mission-driven brands like Pantee. Is the young company helping to raise awareness, but is it contributing to what its founders see as an unsustainable system, or is it completely missing the opportunity?
“The industry runs on trends and fashion weeks are a key part of every cycle. Although some designers use Fashion Week as an opportunity to showcase new fabrics, innovations and sustainable collections, adoption is weak in all areas and doesn’t take away from the main goal – driving trends,” says Kate McCourt who, along with her sister Amanda, started Pantee on their mission to reduce fashion waste.
“Even with a nod to more sustainable practices, Fashion Week inherently ignores the key drivers for building a more sustainable industry: reducing consumption, limiting overproduction and creating timeless products that will last. At Pantee, we would excited to see the move to Fashion Week being used as an opportunity to educate, innovate and raise awareness across the industry,” she continues.
Pantee’s business model is simple yet effective, creating underwear from unused fabrics that would otherwise go to waste. Her modern designs and entrepreneurial determination amid the pandemic captured attention when she was named ‘Best Sustainable Underwear Brand’ by The Independent and ‘One to Watch’ at the 2022 Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards.
After launching on Kickstarter in November 2020, the sisters quickly surpassed their £10,000 funding goal. Since then, the company has recycled over 1,000 kg of unused fabrics while earning 5-star reviews for design comfort from customers.
“For too long, the underwear industry has focused on how people look; not how they feel. That’s why Pantee makes underwear that puts comfort first — not just in the products they make, but in their ethical practices and the way they make people feel,” adds McCourt.
A small brand with huge ambitions, the Pantee team aims to become the go-to brand for sustainable basics in the UK with the aim of capturing 1% of the total underwear market within the next four years. One of the ways he could start achieving such a lofty goal is through consumer satisfaction with the products.
“A testament to the quality of our products is that our return rate is significantly below the e-commerce average of 20% to just 5%,” McCourt replies.
Like many sustainable fashion brands, Pantee is ambitious and communicates with a consumer who wants realistic change. While fashion still has a long way to go, small brands are accelerating change.