Amy & Jasmine Hemsley
This month we have curated an edit usings styles with TENCEL™ and worn by wellbeing expert, champion of sustainability and my good friend Jasmine Hemsley.
To celebrate the new TENCEL™ edit, I talk to Jasmine about all things sustainable, fashion and being new mums.
TENCEL™ is one of our fave fibres at MoP HQ and whenever this fibre is used on a product you will see our ‘Botanic fibre’ sustainable attribute used. I ask Jasmine to explain a little more about the fibre below.
"Q:There’s an increasing demand within the fashion industry for innovation, especially within sustainable production and delivery. When did you first become aware of TENCEL™?"
I’d heard of TENCEL™ for years - maybe through my studies in furniture and product design or perhaps modelling but it really came to my attention when I attended the Copenhagen Fashion Summit in 2018. The event is the world's leading business event on sustainability in fashion and sees a mass gathering of people in the industry to meet, talk and educate themselves further on everything under the umbrella of ‘sustainability’. Part of the exhibition space is the ‘Innovation Forum’ where sustainable solutions are showcased and it was here that I was first introduced to both TENCEL™
"Q:For the complete novice, what is TENCEL™? And what is it about its production that make it sustainable?"
TENCEL™ is a brand that creates fibres made from renewable wood sources using highly sustainable production practices. These fibres are so versatile they can be made into many different fabrics and because they are biodegradable and compostable it means they can naturally decompose and feed the ecosystem at the end of their life cycle.
The fibres are made from raw wood material sourced from sustainably managed forests certified by both Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC) and Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes™ (PEFC). The trees are debarked, chipped and through a multilayer process the cellulose – about 40% of the wood – is separated off as raw pulp and turned into pulp sheets or flakes which are then turned into fibre. Any leftover components from the source material are used to make other bio-based products and energy for electricity and heat. From start to finish every process is considered to ensure minimal environmental impact.
"Q:Are TENCEL™ fibres as versatile as more synthetic materials when it comes to the types of clothes that can be made?"
So far I’m completely impressed by the range of textures and performance of the fibres - everything from knickers to sneakers! There are two types of TENCEL™ fibre; TENCEL™ Modal and TENCEL™ Lyocell. TENCEL™ Modal fibres have a sleek cross-section making them highly flexible. They can also be blended with other fibres (e.g. cotton, wool and silk) to significantly enhance the soft touch of fabrics even after repeated washing. TENCEL™ Lyocell fibres are known for their natural comfort and environmentally responsible closed-loop production process. They absorb moisture efficiently making it an ideal choice for products like activewear and bed sheets or summer clothing. Like Modal, TENCEL™ Lyocell can also be blended with other fibres e.g cotton for increased usability.
"Q:What do you think it will take to get more consumers checking the label? What role can TENCEL™ play here?"
There is no rulebook for what a ‘sustainable’ brand is so currently, it’s up to each brand and consumer to find their own definition... which makes things very complex! As consumers we have to take responsibility to do our own research and educate ourselves on what is out there and make our buying decisions accordingly. This might sound incredibly time consuming in a busy world, but it’s really the only way right now to find the brand’s to trust - i.e. who are doing their homework and acting accordingly. For me, TENCEL™ (and Mother of Pearl!) is one of the brands who are looking at things from a 360 viewpoint, and going beyond the basics with a really regenerative forward thinking outlook for the future when it comes to minimising their footprint on the planet.
"Q:Sustainability is often a buzz word in media these days, especially when it comes to fashion. How important do you think it is for us to educate ourselves as consumers?"
As consumers, we have the power to essentially vote for what we want to see in our brands via our spend - if that spend goes to fast-fashion brands they’ll ultimately just continue to grow bigger and stronger, on the other hand if we direct that spend to brands who are operating on a more conscious, environmentally-aware model then those fast-fashion brands will have to follow suit in order to survive. In other words our spending has the power to create and demand an eco-trend, which we would hope becomes the norm and industry standard as consumers increasingly demand it of their suppliers and products.
"Q:You say on your website that “our own health is intrinsically linked to the wellbeing of the planet”. We’d love to know more!"
In Ayurveda we understand ourselves as ‘of nature’, rather than separate from it. The building blocks that build our physical body come from the Earth and atmosphere. And on a more subtle level, energetically what is happening in our environment - from the weather, the season, our friendship circle, our work environment, our home and community affects us mentally, physically and spiritually. We are intrinsically linked which helps us understand ourselves both individually but also as a fundamental piece of the bigger picture.
"Q:MOP have been working with TENCEL™ for many years and we know you’re a fan! Do you have fave MOP TENCEL™ item in your wardrobe?"
Yes! Currently, it’s a Mother of Pearl’s Genesis Herbarium Dress in Ivory with and without the belt - an easy, comfortable piece that still holds the wow factor, perfect with a new baby in tow when I don’t have the time to think too much or style myself! It’s elegant, interesting, the pattern is perfect in summer and winter (and everything in between), the kind of white that I can wear (you can just about get away with a food stain on this one!) and exactly the right kind of length for flats. I can stick on a pair of trainers and a big jumper or jacket and head out to meet friends for brunch or equally, I know it will be worn for seasons to come dressed-up with a heel and statement jewellery.
"Q:We are both new mums, what are your hopes and fears for the future?"
I’d like to see respect, reconnection and regeneration as the prevalent motivations for our society rather than separation and consumption. I dream of a world for Mahi where we create with the rhythm of nature in mind, where compassion, cooking and growing have the same value as reading, writing and arithmetic. I live in hope.
"Q:Any sustainable baby tips for any new mums out there?"
Borrow or buy from friends and family! On seeing the second hand cane crib I bought at Sunbury Antiques Market, my mum was almost positive it was the one that I had as a baby, that she got from a friend and then went to 4 other members of friends and family before it came back to be my sister’s crib and then went out to another 2 and then we lost track of it. It turns out it wasn’t the same crib but I loved the story anyway. Mahi’s clothes are 80% second hand (I was gifted both new and second hand by friends when she was born, with lots of friend’s opting for sustainable as they knew my ethos already) and her toys are about 95% second hand (hand me downs mostly), hand made or objects from around the house. I’ve kept a few memorable pieces incase I have another baby but have given away or sold what she’s grown out of for charity. When it comes to baby clothes I have never seen wardrobes like it in the second hand markets - especially for baby girls! At carboots you can pick clothing up for 20p to £1 a piece.
"Q:I have a mantra I stand behind of ‘no one can do everything but everyone can do something’ what are your top tips on things everyone can do to make a change?"
A mantra I’ve adopted is similar, this one comes from the food scene but is applicable for all areas of life;
‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly’ – Anne Marie Bonneau aka The Zero Waste Chef
Also when I’m feeling low about the difference I can achieve in the world - this one always makes me laugh:
'If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.' – Dalai Lama
It hits home..., especially for my other half Nick who is a mosquito magnet!