A new Derby clothing brand is aiming to challenge “throw-away culture” by making sustainable sportswear made from recycled plastic bottles.
Emily Hutchison and Victoria Windle met after they both moved to Duffield and quickly discovered they both had a background in fashion.
Emily had worked as a buyer for Top Shop and Vicky spent 15 years as a design director for a high street fashion supplier in Hong Kong.
Over time the pair bonded over their anger at the wastefulness of fast-fashion and decided to take action, using their knowledge and expertise to launch Kit Change, which aims to provide top quality clothing from recycled or earth-friendly fabrics.
“We have loads of experience in fast fashion. Back in the day, there was no real thought to the environmental impact, of workers’ well-being, or the long-term effects of throw away culture,” Vicky explained.
“As fitness lovers interested in a wide range of activities, we felt there still wasn’t a huge range of sustainable activewear out there to choose from.
“Sports clothing is one of the largest users of manmade fibres so there was an obvious need for change in our eyes.”
Starting a new business is not easy at the best of times, but the pandemic meant Emily and Vicky had a tougher time than most.
After securing a five-figure loan to launch the Darley Abbey-based company, coronavirus “hurled” a number of obstacles their way, including the temporary closure of their mill in China which turns used plastic bottles into fabric.
They also planned to use a range of professional models of different ages and sizes, but when restrictions were tightened, they had to narrow their search to willing locals.
The pair decided to post on social media asking for anyone who fancied helping their business by posing for pictures in the range to get in touch.
They were inundated with over 200 applicants and eventually chose 20 as models, including a kickboxer, a teacher, a nurse, a police officer and a pole-dance instructor.
“We put a shout out to local women to come and be our models and the response we had was amazing,” Emily said.
“We always said we wanted to represent real women, but never considered looking to our local community, assuming no one would dare – but women who came to us and said they would do it, who put themselves out there, were brilliant and were really up for it.
“All of them said they really enjoyed the experience of modelling. Lockdown led them to believe they needed to try something new and challenge themselves, and this was it.”
Through hard work and ingenuity, Emily and Vicky overcame the challenges to launch in October last year, and have had excellent feedback ever since.
Emily said: “Our support locally has been so much stronger than we expected.
“Because people have been on social media a lot more, people have got to hear about Kit Change and the support for our business has been massive.”