Case Studies

Pioneering Sustainable Fashion with Mother of Pearl

The Desiree Team
September 5, 2023
IMAGE CREDIT — Anya Holdstock
Amy Powney, the Creative Director of Mother of Pearl, took a stand against the traditional fashion narrative and embarked on a journey of sustainability.

In February 2020, amidst the whirlwind of the fashion world, Amy Powney decided to tap out. With three years having passed since her triumphant win at the British Fashion Council/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, Powney, the Creative Director of Mother of Pearl, took a stand against the traditional fashion narrative and embarked on a journey of sustainability.

A Different Path

Instead of showcasing a collection at London Fashion Week, Powney leveraged her platform to raise awareness about the ecological and societal impact of fashion. Instead of expanding her brand, she launched a nonprofit initiative. This pivot came after years of trying to align her vision of a sustainable luxury label with the mainstream fashion paradigm - a quest that began with her 2017 award.

The aftermath of her award led to the creation of the "No Frills" collection, a project that aimed for complete traceability from farm to finished product, adhering to stringent environmental and social standards. This pioneering effort is now the focus of the documentary "Fashion Reimagined," directed by Becky Hutner. The film, debuting at the commencement of London Fashion Week, provides an intimate look at the challenges of fashion's supply chain and one designer's determined endeavour to make a difference.

From Personal Struggle to Industry Impact

Powney's personal journey from a humble farm upbringing to an industry powerhouse reflects her advocacy for transparency. While fashion began as a way for her to fit in, her realisation of the industry's darker side catalysed a shift. Her early embrace of organic and ethical design elements set her apart, even though sustainability was a peripheral concern in the mid-2000s. Her role as an assistant at Mother of Pearl ignited her passion, offering a platform for her sustainable vision.

The creation of the No Frills collection wasn't merely an industry decision; it was a personal and emotional commitment. Powney's aspiration was to craft a collection entirely sustainable from inception to completion, a feat that proved to be an immense challenge. The documentary *Fashion Reimagined* encapsulates Powney's globe-trotting pursuit of traceable supply chains, revealing the complexities of fashion's inner workings.

The film doesn't shy away from the reality. It showcases the monumental hurdles faced by Powney and her team in their pursuit of transparency. The film's candid portrayal illustrates how difficult it is to reconfigure fashion's intricate system. It's a tale of determination and discovery, where even the minutiae of sourcing materials and checking credentials becomes a substantial task.

Creating Change

While the journey is ongoing, Powney's initiative has sparked significant transformation. Her commitment to listing every garment's sustainability features illustrates her dedication. Despite the challenges, Powney believes in constant vigilance and learning. She acknowledges that perfection isn't immediate, but progress is achievable.

A Lasting Impression

Powney's vision extends beyond her brand's success. Her focus on direct-to-consumer models and exploring alternatives like rentals and resale showcases her determination to push the industry forward. Her pursuit is no longer just about fashion; it's about using her influence to empower women and revolutionise an industry in need of change.


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