With gender-neutral designs and durable pieces created from waste, Riley Studio is committed to doing things the right way, not the easy way. The brand is working towards a circular future by sourcing recycled materials and minimise the impact fashion has on people and the planet.
We sat down with founder Riley to talk about their mission to change mindsets, make conscious consumerism the norm and the steps she takes personally for a more sustainable life.
What made you start Riley Studio?
Having had experience in the fashion industry across many areas, I quickly came to terms with the scale of waste that the industry produces. Because of this, as a team we spent 9 months researching how to transform the traditional business model into one that could be as sustainable as possible, end to end. We chose to concentrate on ‘creating from waste’, utilising recycled materials instead of virgin ones. We also decided to make Riley Studio gender-neutral, so that we could minimise the number of styles being produced, whilst encouraging as many people as possible to wear Riley Studio in their own way. We now focus on creating a range of wardrobe staples that are versatile, durable and can be worn for years to come.
What is the story behind Riley Studio and what would you like to achieve?
We wanted to completely overhaul the traditional business model and do things our way. There is so much pressure to compete and do what fashion brands have done in the past but we wanted to rewrite those rules and focus on sustainability from a social, environmental and economic point of view. Having researched heavily into eco-innovation, it is now integral to our business and influences all of our decisions.
Our aim has always been to educate, whether that be about the fabrics we use, sustainable living, our climate crisis or the people who help to carefully craft our clothes. We recognise that sustainability can be overwhelming and we’re here to help.
We want to continue experimenting with eco-innovative materials and streamline our supply chain even further, to achieve better goals year on year. We were recently awarded the Eco-Age Brandmark and also won Fashion Brand of the Year at the Sustainable Lifestyle Awards, so we have had a huge year but we have more exciting plans for next year.
What do you care about most when creating and producing your product?
We really focus on creating durable and versatile wardrobe staples, that are both gender-neutral and kind on the planet. We want our pieces to be handed down generations and be worn for years to come, so focusing on perfecting the product design is paramount. We analyse every step of making a product, to figure out how to make it as sustainable as possible, from the fabrics and factories to the packaging. We also publish the details of our whole supply chain so that our consumers can find out everything about each product, and understand the process of making it.
We also have a Lifetime Guarantee on all our products, should they need repairing, we’re here to help and if a product does come to the end of its lifecycle, we will repurpose it or recycle, taking full responsibility for making sure nothing ends up in landfill.
What does sustainability mean to you personally and how do you incorporate it into your life?
Sustainability for me is ensuring that we take care of our planet so that it can continue to take care of us. I love Wendell Berry’s quote, ‘we all have the earth in common’, and I believe we all have an equal responsibility to protect it.
I focus on reducing my waste day today, as much as I can and I’m never seen without my Riley Studio Tote bag and reusable bottle. I also make really considered purchases, if I need to, choosing to buy less but to invest in ethical or sustainable brands, tackling our tendency to over-consume. I’ve got two sisters, so we’re also always borrowing each other's clothes!
What is your advice to consumers to take a first step?
It can seem overwhelming and like there is a lot of pressure to be sustainable, but it really is about taking those small steps and making adjustments here and there, until eventually, it becomes an integral part of your life. As a first step, I would focus on cutting out single-use products, so buying yourself a reusable bottle that can be used for hot and cold drinks, buying reusable cutlery instead of using disposable plastic versions, and making your lunch as much as possible instead of buying packaging heavy options during your lunch break, you’ll save some money too so it is a win-win all around.