Phoebe English SS20

Last night (15 September), sustainable fashion designer Phoebe English held her SS20 menswear and womenswear presentation – her most sustainable collection to date – as part of London Fashion Week (13-17 September).

Weleda sponsored the makeup, skincare and hair, meaning the clean beauty pioneer’s products were integral to the look of the presentation.

The Phoebe English approach is to avoid trend-led design and opt for longevity when developing pieces, because good design should last forever. This is something shared with Weleda; Weleda Skin Food, introduced in 1926, is just one of the company’s natural cosmetics from the 1920s that’s still going strong today.

‘I have been a fan and customer of Weleda for years’, Phoebe said on the eve of her SS20 presentation. ‘I remember walking around shops as a child and lusting after those beautiful glass bottles with their tantalising description of heavenly scents. It felt the perfect time to partner with a company with such long-standing and admirable ecological bedrock as we launch this new collection alongside our statements of sustainability.’


Phoebe English is included within the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion collective. Since her debut graduate collection in 2011, Phoebe has consistently shown at London Fashion Week and has a dedicated, global following.

Founded in 2011, the women’s and menswear label is entirely made in England and pieces are created with close attention to detail and quality, in contrast to the more usual ‘fast’ fashion.

‘The UK sends mountains of barely worn fast fashion to landfill every day. Not to mention the on going practice of incinerating warehouse after warehouse of unsold ‘dead’ stock. Once you know these facts you cannot unknow them. If you are working in or buying fashion you are part of the problem, and if we are part of the problem we have a responsibility to be part of the solution. So that is the inspiration, to try and be part of the solution as much as we can.’

Sustainable fashion designer


The duel roots of sustainability and craftsmanship are crucial to each Phoebe English collection, and Phoebe has actively pursued change within the fashion world, such as working alongside the UK Environmental Audit Committee to help push through new legislation to improve sustainability within the UK fashion industry.

Fabric sourcing is done in the UK or EU using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic cottons and Oeko-Tex certified materials that are free from harmful chemicals.

Waste offcuts are returned to the studio to be put back in to future collections, and surplus and deadstock fabrics are repurposed in a similar way.

To finish pieces, the team uses a variety of biodegradable natural finishings such as buttons made from palm nuts and milk protein to avoid unnecessary use of plastic.

‘We have seen a big revelation in the processes which go into the food we eat over the years, it’s now really time that fashion had that as it is exactly the same in terms of the links it has to farming. The clothes that we wear on our bodies have all come from the earth at some point, it has either been grown on the land, or drilled from underneath it. It all comes back to the planet. So our starting point as designers should be the planet when we are choosing and using those resources.’

Sustainable fashion designer

Packaging is recyclable, biodegradable or home compostable. Pieces are packed in entirely plastic-free paper and card packaging consisting of recycled tissue paper, protective glassine paper bags, recycled paper tape and cardboard boxes. Customers are encouraged to contact Phoebe English for any necessary repairs, to prolong the life of their purchase.

The idea behind the SS20 presentation was to showcase as many solutions as possible in terms of sustainability. ‘Fashion is a hugely damaging industry’, Phoebe said, ‘contributing a massive 10% to global heating, destroying vast areas of natural habitat – intensive cotton farming to feed our obsession with fast fashion has destroyed the Aral Sea for example, an inland sea the size of the whole of Ireland, which was entirely drained of water to grow huge cotton plantations. It is so large that this now dry desert can be seen from space.’


Weleda sponsored the hair and makeup team with a range of natural and organic cosmetics, principally the Skin Food collection which was used to create the fresh, dewy look for the presentation.

Earlier this year, Skin Food Light, Lip Balm and Body Butter joined the Skin Food menu alongside the original Weleda Skin Food, which already has a cult following. Victoria Beckham says she slathers it all over her body and the wonder balm is also stashed in the makeup bags of Adele, Julia Roberts and many other A-listers. A tube was even spotted backstage as Ed Sheeran jammed with Anne-Marie during the European leg of his ÷ Tour.

Main image: Julia Grassi

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16 Sep 2019