As we continue our search for the best and brightest in sustainable living, we’re delighted to be talking to Rebecca Morter, Founder and CEO of Lone Design Club.
Lone Design Club (or LDC) is the self-proclaimed antidote to fast fashion, connecting shoppers with ethical, independent fashion and lifestyle brands, with a mission to empower the world to discover transparent and unique clothing and accessories.
LDC goes beyond when it comes to supporting the brands they work with too. They provide designers with an online presence, brand support, and the opportunity to display at their concept stores in Europe and Asia.
It’s this insight, and their contemporary aesthetic, that makes LDC stand out. Find out how Rebecca devised her groundbreaking business, as well as her plans for LFW and beyond in our interview…
1. What sparked your interest in ethical and sustainable fashion?
Years ago I had my own brand and we were always conscious of incorporating sustainability and ethics into our DNA. It’s a rabbit hole and as you go deeper and deeper it’s a minefield of what’s ok to use and what’s not. It can be extremely overwhelming to realise that to be truly sustainable you shouldn’t have a brand in the first place.
I strongly believe no brand can be 100% sustainable in this day and age, but we can all make choices and take a stand in our own way to work towards a more sustainable and less wasteful/harmful future. This is the important part; that each and every one of us is making informed decision and are spreading awareness and opening up the conversation as to how to play our part. We’re all working towards a less destructive future for the fashion industry.
Through LDC, I was coming across more and more small brands that were making much bigger strides than their larger counterparts in the areas of sustainability. They had such incredible stories and were having much more of a positive impact by leaving less of a footprint on our precious planet. This is why I came to the decision to put my own brand on hold in order to focus on LDC, where I could actually have a much larger and more positive impact in supporting other brands to give them a voice both on and offline. Devoting my time to LDC allows me to introduce incredible brands with such worthwhile causes to customers who needed and wanted to know them.
2. Why do you believe it’s important for designers and their consumers to connect directly?
There is nothing more important than understanding your end consumer: the person who you are asking to part with their hard-earned cash (and usually a decent amount of it too) to buy your product!
Wholesaling can be great for certain types of businesses although you have no control over the relationship with the end consumer and how they connect with your product. You send items and if you’re lucky get a weekly/monthly report and a few lines of “feedback.’ It’s simply not enough.
As an emerging designer, you need to understand your customer through and through; what she likes, wants, needs, what’s she’s willing to pay, the fit, how the materials feel... EVERYTHING! The only way to do this is go straight to the horse’s mouth; get in front of your customer and be part of her shopping experience. Gone are the days of trends being dictated by industry. Social media has enabled us all to be individuals and be the masters of our own individual style. Therefore, you need to learn about your customer’s needs and wants; the customer is now king and calls all the shots.
3. What do you look for in the brands you wish to feature on LDC?
Cool, contemporary and unique is LDC’s unique selling point (USP). We love brands that are doing something different and have their own strong USP and an exciting story that we can fall in love with. This is so our team can get 100% behind the brand and want to share their products with our customers. They need to be open to embracing our community and happy to support and promote each other and the LDC platform.
A sustainable and ethical story is crucial. Small brands are naturally preferable as they operate much shorter supply chains and are often the creator themselves or work closely with a local factory. They have the time to oversee production and regularly check the conditions and standards of their materials and the working conditions of the teams.
These designers are much more agile than large traditional businesses and can easily adjust and manoeuvre their operations based on new and sustainable innovations. Whether it’s introducing a pinnate (pineapple leather) into their accessories range, finding new vegan alternatives or looking at the latest tech, these brands are always looking at new and exciting ways to be less harmful and wasteful, which we love!
4. Instead of having a bricks-and-mortar store, you host a monthly concept store which pops up in a different London location each month. How have you found running the concept store and why this model?
Exactly! We only pop up; we don’t do permanent. I don’t know how anyone keeps a permanent space exciting, fresh and inviting enough to encourage customers to come back more than once in the space of days or weeks, let alone months! We create short term, maximum impact and experiential pop-ups. By popping up we create 3-4 times more traction, impact, excitement and foot traffic than a permanent space, tapping into a new location with a new concept and theme every time.
We keep things exciting by researching the local market to bring relevant events to further draw our customers down to the store and build up that sense of place that is so hugely important these days. Our stores are not simply transactional; they’re about community and being part of the experience, immersing our customers in the world of our brands. Because our stores move around London, Milan and soon to be Shanghai, this gives us the opportunity to reach many more customers. We build personal relationships with our customers and maintain them via our social and digital channels, keeping them part of LDC via the digital experience.
5. With London Fashion Week coming up, what’s your plan for LDC?
London Fashion Week is always a busy time in the LDC schedule. We are planning one of our biggest stores yet in the heart of Covert Garden with some fun, interactive experiences and fantastic in-store events whilst simultaneously hosting our second Milan Fashion Week pop-up!
We will soon be launching on Crowd Cube and will open up Lone Design Club for our community to get involved and get deeper into the brand. We want to do this now because community is important to us and we want our loyal customers and designers to be part of LDC as we grow. The campaign launches to the public at the end September so it’s going to be a busy month!
Watch the website for more information and subscribe to our newsletter to get the details first.
6. What are your thoughts on Extinction Rebellion calling for LFW to be cancelled?
The fashion industry is an extremely wasteful sector and overconsumption, overproduction and general harm and damage from our industry to the environment must end. Furthermore, LFW is very financially driven and courts big brands, often isolating smaller designers.
However, fashion is a form of self-expression that we can’t and shouldn’t want to silence. Positives can come from this industry and you see some of these through LFW. Fringe events can shine a spotlight on those doing things differently and those that are behind positive change. The new generations coming through have a different approach and are taking strides to create a more conscious future.
Through our LFW activities, we hope that we’re helping to elevate the brands that do good, supporting those that produce very short and slow fashion runs; those that use recycled materials and up-cycle fabrics and take existing garments to new. We also promote those using less wasteful products, employ better manufacturing processes and overall make strides to participate in a better and less harmful industry.
LFW needs rebirthing not cancelling.
7. And finally, what are your most worn pieces at the moment?
My Blonde Gone Rogue Pink denim jacket made from end of roll, surplus 100% cotton rescue fabric and my Sabinna Pinstripe wide leg trousers. The brands have a wonderful mindful and conscious stories, each piece made with care for the planet and the people in it. I absolutely love them both and wear them to death! I am a believer in the capsule wardrobe and buy a few strong pieces that I’ll wear and will last me a long time.