Tiffanie Darke

Next up in our series of Pearly Queen interviews, we spoke with acclaimed editor, journalist, author and shopkeeper, Tiffanie Darke.

Tiffanie shares the inspiration behind her Rule of Five pledge, the sustainable fashion innovations that make her hopeful for the future, and her pearls of wisdom.

“We’d love to hear about your career journey to get to where you are now. How has your career evolved? And having worked in ‘traditional’ fashion journalism, what was the catalyst that made you switch paths to ‘sustainability’?”

My background is news journalism and I was actually reporting on 9/11 when I was tapped to be Editor-in-Chief of Sunday Times Style. I turned it down as I thought it was pigeon-holing young female journalists and my editor told me not to be ridiculous. He was right. However, my confession is that I then presided over a decade of rampant fashion consumption, cheering on the high street and luxury from the sidelines. My career took me to the US and then back to Harrods, and it was when I was there during the pandemic that I realised there was a hole in my education. I went back to university to study sustainability and now do what I can to transform the industry I know and love to a more sustainable path.


What does sustainability mean to you?

Sustainability essentially, is living within our planetary boundaries. And actually, the weird thing is that since I've started living more sustainably, I actually feel freer. I feel more at ease with the world. And I feel like I'm not trapped by all those marketing, consumption, consumerism messages that have us in the thrall.

Can you tell us about your ‘Rule of Five’ pledge? How did this start and how can we get involved?

It is inspired by the Hot or Cool Institute's 2022 report Unfit, Unfair, Unfashionable. In the report they crunched the numbers and discovered the only way fashion was going to hit the 2030 1.5℃ warming target was if we massively cut production - and consumption. And in the UK that amounts to just five new items a year. So I thought I better walk the walk as well as talk the talk, and set up a campaign page. There are a lot of resources about how to have fun with fashion without buying anything new, and episodes of my own personal (and occasionally disastrous) journey.

You recently wrote in your Substack, It’s Not Sustainable, that ‘the threat of ultra fast fashion is growing.’ What is ultra-fast fashion, and what can we do to combat it?

Ultra-fast fashion is the rise of the mega discount retailers like Shein and Temu, who have harnessed the power of AI, cheap production and materials and massive algorithmically atuned global reach, to build huge shopping platforms. Having conquered China and most of Asia they are now in a battle for the UK, US and European customer. The French have just proposed a tax on this kind of product, which is pretty revolutionary. Hurrah the French!


At MOP, we are all too aware of the huge impacts of the fashion industry on supply chains, waste and natural resources, to name a few! What innovations have you seen that make you hopeful for the future of fashion and our planet?

Small production, careful, managed growth, heart-driven values that define a brand that wants society to thrive not just survive, and an ability to grasp innovation and new materials. Obviously with MoP you have all of that and incredible design thrown in too

What is your pearl of wisdom?

Actually, I've got two pearls of wisdom. First of all, shop your values (Mother of Pearl). Secondly, I have recently employed the two week cooling off period and I cannot recommend it more highly. Basically, when you really want something, you wait two weeks, and if you still want it after the two weeks, then you can absolutely have it. But most of the time you find that after two weeks, you don't quite want it as much as you used to.


“And finally, you wore some of our collection for our photoshoot. What are your favourite MOP pieces and why?

I normally go straight to the figure hugging dresses (I'm wearing one on the cover of a book I’m publishing in the US later this year, What to Wear, A Guilt Free Guide to Fashion). But I love this suit! Amy suggested I try it and it is such a great look. Sometimes we need to be pushed out of our uniform and try something different.

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