Pandemic has put a spanner in the works this year and changed many things for us all. One of them being how and what we dress in, while combining home and work under one roof. As someone who likes to fuse style & comfort, I was curious to see what Asquith London, UK’s eco-friendly activewear and luxe loungewear brand, will spotlight in their new AW20/21 collection.
Using ethically made bamboo and organic cotton, Alice Asquith was an early adopter of the sustainable fashion movement, having established her brand in 2002. Asquith’s natural fabrics are better for the planet, but also very comfortable to wear. Unlike synthetic activewear, organic cotton and bamboo are breathable, moisture-wicking and incredibly soft to the touch. Alice also tends to design each new collection with multi-functionality in mind, while also taking on-board customer feedback.
Asquith’s trademarked natural performance fabric, Bambor®, is used to make their more active, fitted styles: opaque leggings, bras and vests, which keep you comfortably confident in terms of the fit on and off the mat. These are available in a range of classic, neutral colours and this season’s rich Beetroot, Forest and a new starry Galaxy print.
Bamboo and organic cotton styles include super soft tees and long sleeve tops – ideal for layering as the weather cools down and a large selection of comfortable bamboo pants in various silhouettes – from loose-fit Asquith London Cargo Pants to semi-fitted Long Harem Pants and wide-fit Chi Culottes. This season the colour palette consists of classic Black and Grey, a very wearable Tiger Print, a pretty Dusty Pink, a pop-of-colour Coral and two wonderful shades of autumnal greens – Fern and Forest.
All collections are ethically made in Turkey in a female team factory, which is GOTS certified – the world’s leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. Everyone who works there is over 23 years old and most have worked there for 10-25 years.
Alice is genuinely proud of her brand’s buttery-soft eco fabrics and comfortably timeless styles that have been integral since the first collection launch. What has been wonderful to see is the gathering momentum ‘trend’ of more & more people looking at how to be kinder to the earth by supporting companies which offer sustainable, eco-friendly products. Alice and her team are also constantly looking and implementing changes related packaging, swing tags and researching other eco-friendly fabrics.
Q & A with Asquith founder Alice Asquith
What was the inspiration behind the new collection?
AA: Put simply – Nature. Specifically, Autumn. Nature inspired the colours for this season – the winter countryside; beetroot, fern (a fresh vibrant green) and forest (a very dark, rich green), grey mist (the early morning mist), coral and galaxy print – the beauty of the night sky. They’re all tonal colours inspired by nature that I choose because they flatter our complexion and work well together.
The season’s collection offers the same concept as always, to create clothes that last, which is why we only use the best quality, sustainable fabrics: bamboo viscose, organic cotton and our trademarked natural performance fabric, Bambor®.
Not only are these fabrics durable and eco-friendly, they’re also super soft against your skin, naturally sweat-wicking and breathable.
Multi-functionality is key. Our designs are timeless and elegant, so you can enjoy wearing them year after year — from street to studio to sofa.
How did the pandemic affect you as a company & your female workers in Turkey? What are the lessons that you have learnt and taken on board as a business going forward, working in a much tougher economic environment?
AA: Fortunately, Asquith was the perfect product for lockdown and self-isolating. It’s a lifestyle brand, so is perfect for wearing at home, yoga, Pilates, working from home, relaxing and walking the dog.
About 35% of our business is wholesale to stores/spas/hotels and 65% is online. Our online business in particular has been booming. And fortunately the Asquith team are amazingly talented working mums, who all work remotely, as I choose not to have an office. I also choose to work with great people. We all love the flexibility that flexitime gives, so it didn’t affect our company structure very much at all.
Our factory in Turkey have experienced challenges. They had to close temporarily. And when they reopened it was shift work because of social distancing and regular deep cleans. But all staff are still working and are back to work. We work with them like a partnership. I know they value and respect Asquith and need our orders and we need them. They’re a wonderful ethical factory, so I wouldn’t want to look elsewhere.
During lockdown we really focused on how we could support our customers, how we could help and improve their lives in terms of support during lockdown. We offered thrice weekly yoga/Pilates classes, which they loved, which also assisted our struggling yoga teacher community. As well as physical support, we looked at overall health and enlisted the help of experts to offer meditation, mental, culinary & nutritional support. It proved so popular that we’re hosting an Asquith Feel Wonderful event in November, as well as continuing to offer free classes and nutrition talks and explore health and wellbeing issues.
Practically, I think forward ordering, when a brand pre-orders stock months in advance, has changed over the last six months. We’ll be launching more styles in season, seeing what our bestsellers are and reacting much more to customer demand, rather than holding so much stock.
In summary we’ve learnt how valuable our factory is, the strength of our team and how we can really serve our customers. Asquith London is strong and can survive and thrive whatever the circumstances, and my original concept, over 18 years ago, for quality, ethically-made, comfortable, multifunctional clothing is still what people want.
With a lot of Zoom video calls, we are paying attention to detail & what makes us look good ‘on screen’. What are your personal style recommendations from the new collection ?
AA: I love our bamboo tees for elegant styling onscreen. Flattering and comfortable they’re perfect for wearing and working at home; smart but comfortable. Our bestselling Long Sleeve Batwing in Blush is fresh and elegant (great with jeans or our bamboo pants). I designed our Long Sleeve Smooth You Tee as a great over layer when it’s chillier, it’s fabulous in our new season Tiger print!
Sustainability in fashion is becoming a big top of the conversation, but consumers are also bombarded with lots of misleading information. What does “sustainable fashion” mean to you and what are your tips when it comes to shopping? How can consumers make sure they are making the choices that are as good for them, as they are for the future of the planet too?
AA: Sustainability to me means focusing on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet these needs. My origins with Sustainability stem back to my upbringing and my family – living sustainability but without even knowing it. Growing up my mother/grandmother made all our clothes and repurposed clothing, in beautiful, good quality fabrics, re-covered furniture, mended clocks. I also grew up with a love for nature; we had a big garden, we grew our own flowers, fruit and veg, little was bought or packaged, had our own hens for eggs. And I carry this way of living with me personally and when I set up Asquith as a natural sportswear brand 18 years ago.
We’re mindful of the effect our fabrics, packaging and factory have on the environment. Our factory is approved by the Global Organic Textile Standard, the world’s leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. Our fabrics are made from sustainable, eco-friendly bamboo and our trademarked, natural performance fabric, Bambor® as well as organic cotton. Bamboo isnatural, breathable, sustainably grown, uses less water & chemicals than synthetic fabrics and is better for the environment. The dyes we use comply with GOTS and Oekotex standards.
My focus with Asquith is to encourage customers to buy less but buy better quality clothing that lasts longer. We offer styles to mix with your existing wardrobe and we aim to be transparent about our processes. I design clothes to be multi-functional and I source the best quality, durable fabrics that don’t fade or stretch which means you can wear them for longer – better for you and the environment.
I recommend that customers think about price when they buy. If it’s £5 to buy a t-shirt what would the person who made it get paid? Will I wear it often? Will I have to dry clean it? How will it wash and wear? Also to ask companies, if it’s not obvious, how and where their clothes are made. Is a brand transparent about their factory? The staff? The fabrics? Their origins.
I have been kindly gifted an Asquith outfit of my choice, so I can share my actual impressions with you. The Base Layer in grey (it also comes in black), has proved to be warmer than my thin cashmere sweater. Made from temperature controlling & breathable bamboo, the fabric is also dyed using safe, certified by OEKO-Tex dyes. As the cold winds started blowing, catching me off-guard after the luxuriously warm sunshine, I started craving warmth and this layer, while thin to the touch, keeps me comfortably warm. I have worn it simply over my sports bra and luxuriate in its softness. This style is a new addition to the clothes range & ‘thumb’ holes allow you to keep hands warmer while outside and the zip at the neck is a thoughtful element too.
As to the Wear Everywhere Pants (in pebble grey fleece), I haven’t taken then off during the weekend. Roomy at the hips and thighs, they are tapered at the ankle and have drawstrings at the waist, so you can loosen or tighten them, depending on what you are doing in them. Great for doing yoga, walking the dog, lounging while watching tv, cooking, gardening or walking outside in nature. There are also comfortably positioned front pockets to sneak cold hands into and the feeling of reassuring softness next to your skin. The little design elements that shouldn’t be underestimated & are more appreciated than ever at the time when everyone is struggling from continued pandemic gloom.
To find out more about Asquith or to shop the new collection (none of the links in this post are sponsored) please click here You can use the code 10FORME for a 10% off plus free delivery & returns.