The 43rd person in line to the British throne is now officially the royal family’s first underwear ambassador — Lady Amelia Windsor.
“We met through Instagram and have become great friends since. She’s a huge advocate for sustainability and the environment, so it was a perfect match for a collaboration,” says Alexander Perry, 24, CEO and co-founder of Alexander Clementine in London.
Woke underwear is the latest trend among the fashion conscious. Kelp knickers and bladderwrack bras could become a fashion must-have, according to Perry, whose label launched a collection of undies and bras that are made from seaweed.
As he puts it: “You don’t want to start the day by stepping into any sweatshops or unfair labour practices. You want your pants to have an eco-ethical ethos. You want them to be sustainable as well as cosily biogradable.” Or it won’t get royal approval.
Lady Amelia designed a new logo for a new bra and thong set in baby pink. As part of this collaboration, a mangrove tree will be planted in her name for every purchase made — a new initiative for the eco-driven underwear start-up. The inclusive collection, with sizes ranging from 6 to 24, is being modelled by real people with no modelling background.
Says Perry: “The campaign has been designed to ensure that all body types are represented and their diversity is celebrated, empowering wearers to feel beautiful and confident. The Lady Amelia Windsor Collection is handcrafted from the brand’s own unique silk-like seaweed blend. A hot red heart-shaped logo reads, “Made in London with Love”.
“The logo reflects the designers’ love for the environment — Lady Amelia’s strongest emotion — and it also emulates the passion behind the collection’s modelling campaign. A fashion-forward figure, Lady Amelia is well known for her passion for sustainability and safe fashion practices. The mangroves will be planted in Madagascar and Indonesia.
“The brand already ensures 99 per cent of its waste is reused and recycled. Alexander Clementine is well known for its recyclable and biodegradable packaging and will be sending off each new order with a personalised thank-you note to every wearer, written on peppermint seed paper. A lover of peppermint tea, Lady Amelia chose this paper herself, and it will be accompanied by a recipe for Amelia’s Perfect Peppermint Tea, so wearers can grow their own peppermint plant too.”
All the inclusively-sized garments are exclusively handmade in London and 99 per cent of all waste created during manufacturing is reused and recycled in-house.
Perry adds: “We wanted to build a sustainable underwear brand that rivals its fast fashion counterparts, where style and design is as good as the ethical and eco credentials. There’s definitely a gap in the market for style-first sustainable underwear.”
Available are carbon neutral high-waisted seaweed briefs (in lilac or black), triangle bras and bralets made from wood and Icelandic fjord seaweed.
Co-founder Freya Clementine Rosedale, 25, elaborates: “Our unique silk-like fabric is made up of two components: Seaweed or SeaCell, and wood pulp or Tencel. SeaCell is produced using the Lyocell process, an innovative and eco-friendly production method. Production takes place in a closed loop with no chemicals released as waste. This patented process embeds the seaweed firmly within the natural cellulose fibre. As a result, the positive properties of the seaweed are permanently preserved within the fibre, even after multiple washes.
“Wood and pulp come from natural forests and sustainably managed plantations. In the Icelandic Fjords, there is minimal water contamination and zero pollution from ship traffic. We harvest only above the regenerative point of the plant every four years.”
Seaweed requires far less water, land and chemicals to manufacture than cottons, while being more wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying and durable. Comparably, it takes up to 3,000 litres of water to produce one cotton T-shirt.
Seaweed also contains naturally occurring vitamins and minerals that are absorbed through the skin. This includes iron and iodine (vital for thyroid function) as well as vitamins A, C, E and B12. Consumers can have the assurance that their fashion choices are not contributing to an adverse impact on the environment.
Says Perry of co-founder and partner Clementine Rosedale: “Freya has wanted to be in fashion since she was little. I actually wanted to be a vet or a rock star. I’ve always been big on music and had minor success with my band called Tusk throughout university, having played at Reading and Leeds festivals, selling out our own shows, getting played on national radio and supporting bands like Dog is Dead.”
The pair met at Nottingham University and ended up as neighbours in their second year. Perry shares: “Freya was alarmed by the amount of clothes her and her housemates were buying and how infrequently they wore the items they did buy. After some quick Googling, we were shocked by fast fashions’ detrimental effect on people and the planet. We knew something needed to change.
“Our first attempt at a sustainable brand, where we developed ‘leather’ jackets from ocean plastic, was short-lived. We could only source from China and the fabric was incredibly stiff and difficult to work with. We also came to the realisation that although it was made from repurposed plastic, it was still plastic and could never be circular. We needed to pivot.
“We decided to use natural fibres that were biodegradable and had no detrimental impact on the environment even after being thrown away. We came across seaweed and worked with our supplier to develop what we use today — wood and seaweed. Both are sustainably sourced and harvested from managed plantations. We decided on underwear because we thought it was an overlooked area of sustainability. After all, it’s the first thing you put on in the morning and the last thing you take off at night, a sustainable essential,” he quipped.
“We set out with the mission to make sustainable sexy. Other companies might have compromised aesthetics for sustainability, and we wanted this to change. We also felt that sustainable fashion is notoriously expensive (it has to be to ensure everyone is paid fairly) and underwear is a great entry-level product for people looking to make sustainable swaps.”
The brand, which launched in May 2020 at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, has seen an overwhelming response to their products, says co-founder Clementine Rosedale.
Another noteworthy result of their success has been the response from cancer patients and survivors, as Perry notes.
“A recent humbling review from New Zealand stated that our bras were offering the wearer relief and comfort from her most recent operation wounds and scars that other specially mandated post operation bras did not.
“Our ethos has and will always be that our bras feel good and do good — but we couldn’t have imagined helping women through such an incredibly hard time in their lives. So that has been particularly humbling for us.”