“To me, sustainable fashion is about protecting our future and being committed to change”

Written by Harriet Davey

Welcome to The Sustainable Shopper. Each week, Stylist will talk to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. To start the series, Dalbir Bains – founder of new sustainable clothing label Aligne – explains to fashion editor Harriet Davey the importance of creating an ethical brand, now, more than ever. 

Ever wondered where your clothes come from? Or how they are made? Taking a sustainable approach to shopping is something we could all probably do more often. With this in mind, The Sustainable Shopper is here to champion the brands shaping a more eco-friendly world. 

Womenswear label Aligne launched last month with a 60-piece edit of timeless, classic items. The brand quickly gained a strong social following of women who want to shop smarter. Sourcing sustainable and recycled fabrics, producing products in fair-trade environments and cutting the high costs usually associated with eco-friendly fashion, founder Dalbir Bains tells Stylist what creating a sustainable brand in 2020 does, and should, look like. 

DB: “I’ve worked in fashion buying and product development throughout my entire career. Worrying facts and statistics have made me question the industry: why should it take 10,000 litres of water to make a single pair of jeans? Why are we using regular cotton when it’s one of the world’s most heavily polluting crops? These are huge issues that I want to change – not just consider – when producing Aligne’s collections.

To me, sustainable fashion is about protecting our future and being committed to change, while sustaining the fashion industry I love. We all need to play our part in helping to protect our planet and ensuring fashion is ethical and sustainable is an important piece of the puzzle.

There are many factors that have made me incredibly concerned about the way we are changing our relationship with shopping. I think the demands and pressures of social media create an issue with being seen in the same clothes twice. Take this, the affordability of fast fashion and the need for newness, and you’ve got yourself a real problem. That being said, I do believe we’re starting to experience an exciting time of change. There’s an amazing sustainable movement happening across brands which is inspiring to see.

I wanted to make Aligne as sustainable as possible. To do this, we only work with like-minded partners; those who share our mindset and welcome our brand ethos. From sourcing and production to eco-friendly practices and considered, conscious fabrics, we strive for sustainability in all that we do. Our first collection features pieces designed in 100% organic cotton, Lenzing EcoVero viscose (made from responsibly-sourced wood pulp) and contemporary denim produced with 50% less water.

One of the challenges I’ve found is creating a collection that’s both affordable and sustainable. Sustainable fabrics are more expensive, we were also buying smaller quantities amidst the global pandemic which has meant garments cost more. It’s been tough, but we got there in the end and we now have an incredible, sustainable womenswear collection that we’re all so proud of.

Many people may assume a ‘sustainable’ garment has compromised the fashionability, value and quality in some way. However a great product should incorporate all three.

At Aligne, we like to think of it as fashion first and then affordability but sustainability should always underpin the piece to create a naturally planet-friendly garment.

In the next five years I would like to see sustainable fashion become the norm. Stringent sustainable guidelines and practises need to be put in place and embraced, alongside inclusive initiatives that will ensure everyone is playing their part towards our future. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword, it’s how we move forward.

There are so many ways to bring more sustainability into your life. When it comes to style, I believe good investment decisions are key – carefully consider the pieces you buy, understand what works best for you and stick to the staples that make you feel good. It’s a great way to avoid random purchases, and when you do buy something new, you know you’ll wear it time and time again. I like trends but value timelessness, which is something you’ll spot in the collection – quality, love-forever pieces that you can be easily dressed up and down, season after season are my focus for Aligne.”

The Sustainable Shopper shopping list: the Aligne collection

  • Adele tank

    Aligne: Adele tank

    This knit vest has been so popular, it sold out as soon as it dropped. Don’t miss it this time round.

    Shop Aligne Adele tank at Aligne, £75


  • Annabel jacket

    Aligne: Annabel jacket

    The cropped blazer is key this season – style with the matching trousers (below) just like fashion influencer Monikh, or add over a cami dress with chunky boots. 

    Shop Annabel jacket at Aligne, £95


  • Aida trousers

    Aligne: Aida trousers

    For an a/w 2020 update on classic tailoring, Aligne has backed the ankle-tie trouser. In chocolate or fail-safe black, you’ll wear these on repeat this season, and beyond. 

    Shop Aida trousers at Aligne, £80


  • Athena cashmere turtleneck

    Aligne: Athena turtleneck

    Investing in cashmere is always a good idea as the cosy fabric will stand the test of time in your wardrobe. Luckily, Aligne has created roll-neck knits made from 50% recycled cashmere in five classic hues. 

    Shop Athena cashmere turtleneck at Aligne, £110


  • Aria dress

    Aligne: Aria dress

    You can always invest in animal print pieces with the reassurance you can wear them each and every year. This midi shirt dress is universally flattering and ticks even more boxes being made from 100% recycled polyester. 

    Shop Aria tiger print dress at Aligne, £90


  • Ariana liner

    Aligne: Ariana liner coat

    To get even more wear out of your winter coat, Aligne’s reversible quilted style is a timeless wardrobe addition. Switch from trusty black to chic monochrome just by turning it inside out. It also comes in khaki, too. 

    Shop Aligne Ariana liner coat at Aligne, £150


  • Alexa shacket

    Aligne: Alexa shacket

    The shacket (shirt/jacket hybrid) is the outwear choice to look to when it’s too warm for your winter coat, but too cold to go out of the house with nothing at all. You’re bound to layer this ruffle collar style for seasons to come. 

    Shop Alexa shacket at Aligne, £110


  • Alice blouse

    Aligne: Alice blouse

    Want to know what we love more than a wear-anywhere blouse? One made from sustainable materials, of course.  This 100% Lenzing™ and EcoVero™ viscose style in ditsy florals is a win-win. 

    Shop Alice blouse at Aligne, £55


All images: courtesy of Aligne

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