Earth Day is every day for Mother of Pearl’s creative director Amy Powney — and perhaps that’s why the designer’s latest endeavor, a new partnership that spotlights the luxury sustainable womenswear brand’s use of Tencel, is fitting for her vision that puts fiber at the center of fashion.
Brimming with voluminous, monochromatic silhouettes and patterned, moody florals, new spring looks from Mother of Pearl that are made with Tencel offer a bold take on femininity. Founded in 2002, Britain-based Mother of Pearl leads with a “classic, but never boring” mantra alongside its individuality, authenticity and sustainability trifecta. Its fashion collections are stocked by global luxury retailers inclusive of Net-a-porter, Harrods, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Goop.
Powney, a newly named brand ambassador for Tencel, said she has used the branded cellulosic fiber for a number of years, but notes that shoppers are often unaware of its botanic origin, as the cellulosic fiber is ethically and sustainably derived from trees.
“Millions [of trees are] cut down each year, and our demand is only growing — it has doubled in the last decade,” Powney said. “This is leading to the destruction of some of our most ancient and endangered forests. Tencel offers a sustainable alternative to this where the trees are managed under strict regulations to make sure that the planet’s natural resources are replenished.” Powney added that Tencel is also biodegradable, versatile and “super soft on the skin, making it perfect for my collections at Mother of Pearl. It is an eco-fiber, which has the ability to transform the textile and fashion industry for the better,” she added.
And in celebration of Earth Day, Powney is launching a monthlong activation, the Buy One Get One Tree campaign, on the Mother of Pearl website. For every Mother of Pearl x Tencel product, a tree will be planted through the Tencel and One Tree Planted partnership, by Tencel, to support awareness around the event.
Here, Powney talks to WWD about Mother of Pearl’s ongoing use of Tencel, the launch of its Buy One Get One Tree campaign, and what’s coming up next for the brand.
WWD: Tell us about Mother of Pearl x Tencel. Why does Tencel fit into Mother of Pearl’s vision for sustainable fashion?
Amy Powney: When I started on my journey to turn Mother of Pearl into a sustainable brand one of the first areas I looked at was the materials we were using, how they were grown and where they came from. Naturally we focused on organic cotton and mulesing free wool first but they can be quite tough fibers, I still wanted something that gave that soft silk effect.
I came across Tencel a while ago and have been using it in my collections for a number of years. It is a cellulose fiber of botanic origin, which comes from sustainable forestry. The consumer often does not realize the connection between cellulose fiber and trees and that millions are cut down annually.
The Lenzing Group, of which Tencel is their flagship brand, manage their forests sustainably and their Tencel lyocell and modal fibers are produced through environmentally responsible processes. They are also biodegradable and compostable, helping to maintain an environmental balance and ensure they’re fully integrated into nature’s cycle.
I have been championing them in my collections for a while so it felt only natural to take on the ambassadorial role with Tencel and be able to talk about this incredible eco fiber. It really does have the ability to transform the textile and fashion industry for the better.
WWD: How many pieces are in the Mother of Pearl x Tencel collection, and are there any standouts or personal favorites?
A.P.: As I have used Tencel for a while now, we have over 115 items on our site [that] incorporate this and all of them are part of our Buy One Get One Tree campaign. They can be found by using our Botanic Fiber filter which is part of our 11 sustainable attribute filters.
These 11 filters allow the customer to understand exactly what we’ve done with each garment to ensure that we are making the best possible choice for people and the planet. It demonstrates our unique commitment as a brand to be traceable and transparent throughout the entire supply chain, not only when looking at the final garment production. It is a revolutionary way of shopping, not simply focused on the type of product but also the story of its creation.
My current favorite Tencel pieces are our new Hailey dress in white and black. The white is actually made from Tencel x Refibra technology, it’s a Tencel blend [that] involves upcycled cotton scraps from garment production. It uses 30 percent cotton waste to transform it into cotton pulp mixed up with 70 percent wood pulp to create 100 percent new Tencel Lyocell fibers, meaning its sustainable credentials are even better.
WWD: What inspired the launch of Buy One Get One Tree?
A.P.: We’re all very familiar with how the destruction of the rainforest is detrimental to local biodiversity and communities living there, and also how it impacts the global climate. I think it is something most people are aware of or have seen or read about. However, I think very few associate trees with the clothes we wear. That some of our most ancient and endangered forests are also being destroyed so we can turn the wood into a fiber that can be used in garments.
Buy One Get One Tree is aiming to spotlight this and to show this connection particularly on Earth Day when people are more open to receiving this sort of information. It is also designed to show that there are alternative solutions. Managing forests can be done in a more sustainable way. The trees are managed under strict regulations to make sure that the planet’s natural resources are replenished.
WWD: What’s next for Amy Powney and Mother of Pearl?
A.P.: I have done a huge amount to turn Mother of Pearl into a sustainable and ethical brand and our journey is by no means over; we continually seek to improve. However, my role as an ambassador for Tencel is part of my personal mission to do all I can to protect nature, the planet and people. To raise awareness where I can, beyond just Mother of Pearl. If I can do my small part and influence someone to make a better decision, and they can then go on to influence someone else, then that is a legacy I will be happy with.
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