Meet the Founding father of Non Denim, the Label That is “Aware by Design”

Images courtesy of Non. DESIGN BY Danielle Campbell.

Pete Hellyer launched Non with the ambition of constructing change within the denim area. Here is what you could know concerning the new London-based line.

Like many people over the previous 12 months, Pete Hellyer — founding father of Non, a denim-centric label primarily based in London — has been trying to find which means. With 15 years of expertise within the e-commerce and digital realms of the style business, he discovered his client-based work was changing into extra sporadic because the pandemic’s maintain intensified. “I had quite a lot of free time, and there was quite a lot of uncertainty,” says Hellyer, who had labored as artistic director for companies together with Ssense and The Outnet earlier than going freelance.

To convey a bit of cheer into his life, Hellyer — who, once more like many people, discovered himself primarily sporting loungewear all through lockdown — resolve to deal with himself to a pair of denims. “I stay in denim,” he notes of his typical apparel. “I’m a type of individuals with a uniform [of] a white tee and denims.”

Discovering a pair with satisfying fashion, sustainability and moral manufacturing credentials proved troublesome for Hellyer, however the course of sparked an concept. “I assumed, I’ve bought quite a lot of time on my fingers — I’ll make some.” Initially predicting that he might produce a small run of denims that had been each ethically made and environmentally pleasant, the extra Hellyer researched and investigated supplies and manufacturing, the extra he realized he’d have to reinforce his scope to show his concept right into a actuality. “Making 100 pairs wasn’t attainable” with the minimums that exist within the textile business, he says. And so, Non was born.

non denim
Images courtesy of Ssense

“I had no intention to launch a trend model, and I don’t establish as a dressmaker,” Hellyer notes, describing the origins of his line as a “completely happy accident.” The identify speaks to Non’s lack of emblem and branded parts, in addition to the truth that the items are non-gendered and its manufacturing endeavours to be non-wasteful. And unofficially, it’s an acronym for the thought of “Now or by no means” — a prescient provocation given the perpetually tumultuous occasions we stay in.

“What I’ve actually loved is that it’s given me a way of function,” says Hellyer of the way it’s felt to dive into this new endeavour that has such a well timed mandate. “It’s a mission I actually purchase into and consider in, which I haven’t possibly all the time had in my work. Within the trend business, there’s not all the time function behind the whole lot that we do.”

Regardless of its admirable ambitions, Hellyer is hesitant to explain Non as “sustainable,” as an alternative bestowing it with the ethos of “Aware by Design.” The label’s vary of selvedge denim items, which embrace a wide range of jean kinds, jackets and equipment, are made in Turkey by Isko, a mill that pays staff a residing wage and is a bluesign® SYSTEM companion (which means it adheres to strict and protected manufacturing protocols which have an environmentally-sound focus).

non denim
Images courtesy of Non

“I wished to push each factor so far as we might,” Hellyer notes of the model’s use of vegan natural and recycled supplies, in addition to its unisex design philosophy. Non additionally presents a take-back program for its wares, which means prospects can ship in previous objects, that are donated or recycled, and obtain a reduction their subsequent order.

Moreover, Hellyer strives to offer Non’s clothes an innate versatility (i.e. you’ll be able to put on them both fitted or outsized) that lends to longevity. “When you have a jacket that you could put on a number of methods, it’s like having 4 jackets,” he says of how he envisions design practices enabling prospects to undertake higher consumption habits going ahead. “And it’s necessary that [these] are objects that don’t age.”

Whereas Non’s kinds may need an aesthetically timeless high quality, additionally they possess a decidedly trendy facet: The inclusion of a scannable NFC tag that enables shoppers to glean garment care directions and details about the piece’s provenance. This intelligent little bit of tech, created by Non companion Eon, additionally affords future recyclers a breakdown of information to “enhance end-of-life administration” of the merchandise, based on the model’s web site.

“I’ve all the time wrestled with working in trend to some extent,” Hellyer says about why he’s taken such measures along with his fledgling label. “I’m an enormous advocate of non-public fashion and self-expression and individuality; however inherently, being a sustainable model within the trend business is an issue as a result of the philosophy of the business is the issue. The very definition of it’s primarily based on redundancy — the truth that one thing is extraordinarily wanted after which not desired six months later.”

non denim
Images courtesy of Ssense

In grappling with the complexities of need, want and waste, Hellyer has opted to take an strategy with Non that centres round transparency as an alternative of preaching to or inundating prospects with pie charts and sometimes mystifying certifications. “I believe that’s why greenwashing is unfortunately so efficient,” he says about how insider and intellectualized a lot of the dialogue round “sustainable trend” has turn out to be. Hellyer describes the knowledge offered on Non’s web site as “warts and all,” indicating that there’s nonetheless extra he needs to enhance on inside its manufacturing framework. And it displays the paradoxical nature of sustainability within the trend world.

Hellyer highlights how the present panorama leaves little margin for enchancment as so many elements of it are handled as binary points, and that the acknowledgement of who will get to be a “acutely aware client” can also be desperately missing. “You will have individuals who have cash to play gown up and might afford to put on ethically-made merchandise,” he says. “[But] it’s arduous to disclaim somebody who doesn’t have the disposable revenue the identical kind of pleasure or self-expression as a result of they’ll solely afford garments which are sadly made much less ethically.”

For his half, Hellyer hopes that the strides he and different like-minded manufacturers are making will affect and encourage extra mass companies, which means that finally, each client could make higher calls in the case of clothes and accent purchases. “It’s thrilling that issues are transferring faster in sure instructions,” he says of the gaining groundswell of biomaterial research, thought-about manufacturing practices and mounting circularity within the fashion area. But as he so rightly continues, inclusivity should be a part of the equation to actually make these gestures significant.

“If we could be a part of that dialog and present processes and supplies that assist make a change in larger manufacturers and wider elements of the business, that’s going to have a higher affect than if I make a thousand pairs of denims actually ethically and sustainably,” he notes. “That’s not going to vary the world.”

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