Fashion /

5 rising sustainable fashion stars to watch in 2021

January 11, 2021By Francine Heath

Ready to shop even more consciously this year? These are the emerging brands and designers to know about


It’s always tricky finding the perfect swimsuit – especially if you’re shopping online – but who better to design your new favourite than someone who quite literally grew up in one? “As a child, I would wake up before everyone else to jump in the ocean and water ski before school, then rush home for an afternoon swim before homework,” reveals Alicia Rountree,  the wellness warrior, model and writer behind Alica Swim. Focused on creating simple, sustainable swimsuits and bikinis, each collection is made locally “with love” in Mauritius using ECONYL®,  a premium technical yarn created from regenerated nylon. Trash turned into treasure, the suits are all impeccably well-tailored, taking influence from the many fittings, castings and shows Rountree has done over the years where she noted exactly what cuts and details were comfortable or flattering.’

The founder and creative director is also heavily involved in all aspects of the label’s thoughtful design and production process. Even the unique prints are sketched by her using vibrant watercolours and elements of her beloved Mauritian landscape as inspiration. The matching kimonos and headpieces are crafted from natural silk and cotton, but they do use 50% less water in the printing process. Plus, a portion of the company’s profits is donated to the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society (MMCS) – a non-governmental, non-profit organisation dedicated to sustaining marine life in the delicate ecosystems of the Indian Ocean.

Images: Alicia Swim



Fuelled by a desire to make clothes that are beautiful and better for the earth, Paradis Perdus is a new luxury brand using only the finest recycled fibres it can find to knit joyful, candy-coloured designs inspired by the ‘80s and ‘90s. Working closely with ethical suppliers, the yarns come from the stock of discarded sweaters, which are carefully taken apart so that the threads can be filtered by colour and spun into a new fibre. No stone appears left unturned: buttons are excluded from the collections because the team couldn’t find any that were 100% recycled, while each garment is subject to a two-step verification by the Global Recycled Standard and REMOkey.

Meaning “lost paradise” in French, Paradis Perdus was founded by French designer Thomas Poli with the help of friends and fellow industry veterans who share his deep love of design. Together, they believe that truly sustainable, high-end garments shouldn’t have to compromise on style. Through a great deal of research around greenwashing and fashion’s heavy toll on the environment, the collective found that the cleanest way to create was to use what we already have.



Maison Bent’s founder Shanna Bent traces her love of art back to the age of five, recalling that some of her favourite days were filled with drawing and painting. A fondness for textiles followed and by the time she reached her teens, pursuing a career in fashion felt like the natural next step. Interestingly, though she might not have known it at the time, sustainability has always been a part of her journey.  After all, the school backpacks that she used to adorn with pockets from her aunt’s ‘80s jeans would likely be an even bigger hit today thanks to fashion’s current obsession with upcycling.

Conscious creation is still at the heart of Maison Bent – the label she launched after honing her craft at Alexander McQueen as LCF and CSM alumni. The AW20 capsule was brilliantly crafted using end-of-line and ethically-sourced fabrics from Shepherd’s Bush Market. It took influence from the Windrush Movement of the 1960s and used real Jamaican coins as buttons. Titled ‘Annette’ after the designer’s grandmother, the SS21 collection was handmade in London during the UK’s first lockdown and was inspired by some of the stories her grandparents told her over the phone during those four months. It’s filled with strong silhouettes, exaggerated sleeves and feminine cutouts, with some of the pieces named after her loved one’s common phrases. What’s truly special is the colour palette: a medley of vibrant reds and pinks, plus soft yellows and blues that are each versatile in their own way.


No well-curated capsule wardrobe is complete without a dreamy summer dress that you love slipping into each year. The good news is that you can call off the search thanks Lagos-based brand Míe. Míe was founded by Damie Idowu after she decided to follow her heart and take a leap of faith into the world of fashion. Designing feel-good resortwear from Lagos, the brand’s clothes are made locally by seamstresses and artisans who carefully mark each piece to create fewer fabric scraps – providing job opportunities in Nigeria is a key part of Míe’s purpose. The timeless collections are crafted using breathable and elegant fabrics (like linen and cotton) that are natural, biodegradable and, importantly,  easy to care for. It’s hard to choose between the mood-boosting colours and the crisp, uplifting whites, but the styles with puffed and artfully gathered sleeves deserve to be on your radar.



“We love the sea, the air that we breathe as well as the nature surrounding us,” says working title, a Berlin and Paris-based brand championing sustainability and striking aesthetics. Inspired by art, architecture and random discoveries, each design is comfortable, natural and effortless thanks to minimalist cuts and a refined palette. The label makes each design to order with the help of carefully selected family-run workshops and they’re crafted by hand using “the finest of the finest” natural materials – including mulesing-free wool,  certified organic cotton and silk from Italy. What you won’t find are any mineral oil-based fabrics in the capsules or any plastic in the trims. Though caring and repairing each item is strongly encouraged, it will biodegrade at the end of its lifecycle. Don’t miss the knitted turtleneck strung with rainbow-bright fringe or the oversized checked coat.




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