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First look: high street supplier launches sustainable range

Ahead of the launch of its first sustainable collection, Drapers sits down with Prominent Europe’s commercial director Monica Jandrisits to find out more about the menswear supplier’s sustainable goals. 

As a supplier to leading UK high street retailers, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, River Island and Next, Prominent Europe has launched the Eco-Layer collection to encourage and support retailers in exploring sustainable options.

The 24-piece own-label collection will launch for spring 2020. The main Prominent House collection will also now be offered in sustainable options. 

Prominent Europe also owns menswear tailor Chester Barrie, and Richard James Mayfair - the diffusion line from Richard James.

Although Prominent is unable to provide wholesale prices at this stage, retail prices are expected to range from £35 for a T-shirt to £230 for a suit. 

Why has Prominent Europe decided to launch the Eco-Layer collection? 

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. As a supplier to everybody on the high street, we didn’t feel that change was coming fast enough. Whether it be use of sustainable fabrics, or use of sustainable trims or packaging, we felt that more could be done and faster.

We see it as our responsibility to not just support retailers in the move to sustainability but to drive it. And the best way to do that was to pull a range together to say, “Here’s how you can do it.” 

Why is now the right time to launch the Eco-Layer collection? 

As a business, Prominent Europe has been pushing sustainability for several years. We’ve been involved in the sustainable planning initiative at Marks & Spencer since the start. They’ve been leading the market, and we’ve always been trying to sell it wider and further with them. 

Our retail partners are now getting a lot more customer feedback saying “What are you doing about this?”, “Why aren’t you addressing this?” People are starting to want it. 

We have a great amount of responsibility to be one step ahead of everyone so that we can give options to businesses. If we are going to survive in this industry, we need to push that harder. The plastic tax is coming, and following the House of Commons report that 1p is going to go much higher than 1p.

[The environmental audit committee’s final report on the sustainability of the fashion industry said that a charge of 1p per garment could raise £35m for investment in better clothing collection and recycling in the UK.]

All of these things are happening and it’s perfect timing for us to have an audience for the first time that is willing to listen.

What was the inspiration for the collection? 

The design team came up with the idea of the Eco-Layer collection – because every guy should only really have seven pieces in his wardrobe to be able to layer on top of each other, so he doesn’t go out and buy multiple items. 

We’ve gone right through from fibre, fabric, trims and packaging to make sure that the whole garment is sustainable. We’ve worked alongside a lot of our key suppliers and found some new ones, so that even aspects such as our buttons are sustainable. 

You begin to translate sustainability as a trend that has a wider scale when customers buy it because it’s a beautiful product first that then also has an attribute of sustainability. The whole idea was to create a clean, simple, quite Scandi look.

Making sustainability part of a retailer’s arsenal will only happen if we can drive scale, and get people together and unify people. Differentiation of price point is really quite key, so we’re offering three main tiers, but there is room for flexibility in this – for example, with organic cotton if we have five retailers that are interested in buying this amount, can we get all five collectively together to see what price we can get it to? 

By doing this we’re learning and getting it better, and every season will be a bit better and then we’ll start something different. We see this as being the future of how we need to trade in the industry. 

How will the collection develop? 

Every season we will be launching a new Eco-Layer collection. We’ll have a different focus each season to consider how we can extend this further into prints, or better washes that use less water. 

The aim is to see that at some point in time the Prominent House collection that we do each season will incorporate more of our sustainable learnings from Eco-Layer.


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