Black and White Sewing Machine

We often talk about free time and the importance of key moments related to this - time alone, time with friends and time with family.

This got me thinking about time in general. How much do I have left? How much will my children have? Our planet? Not to mention the environmental news around us day and night.

Internally, as a team, we are constantly talking about sustainability and sometimes people outside the company ask us about our sustainability policy. We haven’t spoken out or published anything on the subject so the team and I thought we’d better start talking about it now.

German Octogenarian Wisdom

I met a wonderful lady at a press day in Munich. I was telling her about our brand and our approach to design and development. I started explaining my thoughts on quality versus price and how I felt it is more sustainable to buy great, true quality once, rather than repeated fashion-led, quality-agnostic purchases at much lower price points. As I delicately stomped around this subject the lady kindly put me out of my misery with a wonderful quote from her late grandmother. She told me that when she was a child her grandmother said words to the effect of... “My darling, we are too poor to buy cheap.”.

Nothing I have heard or said since better communicates the wisdom, value and sustainability of our product philosophy. So, I’ve stolen the phrase for my own use. Just don’t tell anyone.

Sum of the Parts

When considering the environmental impact of our brand, we try to consider each small detail in order to get the little wins, knowing that together these will add up to a meaningful difference. We use more plastic than we’d like to since we need to protect our products at point of sale and also need the designs to be visible. So, in the absence of see-through, durable paper, we have had to use plastics. But we have done our best to mitigate this by using recycled and recyclable materials. Not bad, but we want to do better. So we’re currently investigating fully biodegradable packaging options including a potato starch solution. Hopefully more good news to come in the future as we progress this. Other steps we’ve taken on the path to improved sustainability include:

1. Designing and offering reusable fabric bags for use in our retail stores in the hope customers will use them for years to come (I know I do – the smaller bag is perfect for ipads and laptops, also great for your book and nik-naks on the beach);
2. Most of our products ship to our wholesale partners in fully biodegradable bags with the balance using fully recyclable bags;
3. We encourage our store customers to get their receipts post purchase by email rather than paper;
4. We pack our wholesale orders as efficiently as possible to the point that we cut down boxes by hand to ensure they’re not wasting space (offcuts are recycled);
5. For all online orders, we offer Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) approved eco-friendly cardboard packaging that is recyclable and the same box used for dispatch can be resealed and reused for returns;
6. We look to work with mills and fabrics that have sustainable credentials. For example the cellulose used to make our luxurious micro-modal fabric is made in an environmentally responsible production process from trees that are sustainably forested;
7. Both our London and Congleton offices recycle and discourage single plastic use;
8. We never burn or consign clothing stocks to dumps;
9. We consider our proximity to materials where possible and manufacture ourselves here in the UK in order to keep our carbon footprint low;
10. We have a paperless trade set-up with our couriers (DHL), saving a lot of paper.
11. UPDATE March 2022: We've just rolled out recycled cardboard hangers across our stores and showrooms. These have been really well received!

Taken in isolation, these steps may not sound like much. our hope and expectation is that taken together, they add up to a meaningful stride in the right direction.

Looking ahead we’re also working on improving the following weaknesses:

1. Underwear boxes: these currently use plastic and magnets. We’re taking steps to make a new version that is fully recyclable.
2. Premium/gift packaging for online orders: ribbon and magnets again are an issue. We’ve already switched to FSC board and are developing fully recyclable versions at the moment.

Rinse & Repeat

Of course, there’s a way to go. So we continue to review our resources and look for better alternatives. We replaced our wooden/metal hangers with cardboard ones. We’re also in the process of moving our woven cotton sourcing to Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) accredited mills only.

The point is that like our product development, we will not be sitting still thinking our approach is perfect. We’re excited that there are brilliant people constantly innovating in the area of sustainability and we will continue to hunt down the best, eco-friendly resources for our business.

Better the Fool...

Bearing in mind one of my favourite phrases, “Better the fool who knows he’s a fool, than the fool who doesn't.”, we remain humbly open to suggestions from you, our customers, as to how we can do better. If you would like to suggest a way in which we can do better, be it at a product level or in terms of sustainability, please do reach out to us. Just drop us an email to customerservices@derek-rose.com.

In the meantime, we will continue to do our best and strive to be better. Not a bad philosophy for life in general.

Sacha Rose

CEO, Derek Rose