People & Planet
Behind the Brand: Jackie and Martyn talk World Environment Day
17 July 2023
Ask anyone who works at Radley London what makes the brand so special, and the answer is more often than not "the people". Welcome to the first chat in our Behind the Brand series, where we introduce you to some of our incredibly talented team members. World Environment Day was the perfect occasion to speak with a pair who share a passion for sustainability – at work and at home.
Meet Jackie - our Chief Brand Officer - and Martyn - Head of Technical, Supply & Product Development - as they talk about the leading role they want Radley London to take in pioneering sustainability in the fashion industry.
(Editor’s note: We’ve included links to our sustainability hub throughout, so you can find out more about what Jackie and Martyn are discussing.)
LIFE B.R (BEFORE RADLEY)
Jackie: I’ve always been interested in environmental protection. This led me to study Geography at university, and I did my dissertation on the tourist impact on Mount Kenya (pictured below). I actually lived there for two months conducting research, which sounds glamorous but was actually me picking up litter!
I started my working life in retail and moved into product development. I’ve been lucky enough to travel quite a lot to see where and how products are made, and quickly came to understand why a sustainable production cycle is critically important both for running a business well and doing the best for our planet.
I’m now responsible for the product and marketing at Radley London. There’s no typical day in my role, which I love. It’s so varied, from discussing the stitching on a new handbag with our artisans to thinking about how we can communicate what we’re doing to our customers. We know they care about sustainability, so we always want to involve them.
Martyn: I would have loved to have been there on Mount Kenya, Jackie. My background is similar, in product development. I’ve spent 30 years working with leather and learning the trade from everyone I could.
Footwear was my first passion, and my graduate collection came from two sources of inspiration – Andy Warhol and using recycled materials. Not in quite the same way we do here though. I used the inside of a hairdryer as the heel for one shoe. It’s a mindset that I still have today and that’s why I love working with people, and a brand, with the same values.
“Create beautiful designs but also think about the least impactful way to do that at every step.”
SAYING NO TO WASTE
Martyn: Jackie, what would you say are some of the biggest challenges to sustainability you’ve seen in your time in the fashion industry?
Jackie: Waste is a huge one for me. It’s something we all have to be conscious of in an industry where tastes change. As a premium brand I want us to lead the way in making fashion more sustainable. For example, we only use leather from Leather Working Group-accredited tanneries, so we know it’s the most environmentally friendly option available, and it’s also a by-product of the food industry.
Martyn: We both know it has to be in everyone’s mindset within a business, to not only create beautiful designs but also think about the least impactful way to do that at every step. Something that has always stuck in my mind is a stat I heard that nearly three-fifths of clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfill within a year of being made. It’s a win-win for everyone to not waste our materials, because we invest in the highest quality so we want to make sure to utilise everything we can.
Jackie: Exactly. And using sustainable materials, such as the recycled polyester in our Radley Responsible range, is more expensive than using virgin fabrics. But we know it’s the right choice.
We're a global brand, and manufacturing and selling globally is also always going to raise concerns. One we tackle through best practice processes, like shipping in the most environmentally friendly way possible. We will always face questions around working with our partners in India, but we feel the benefits their artisanal skills bring to our product, and we bring to their communities, cannot be replaced. We are very dependent on one another in the most wonderful way.
STRATEGY FOR SUCCESS
Martyn: It’s all about making those choices isn’t it. It’s why we have a brand ESG (environmental, social and governance) strategy to guide us, and we make sure our suppliers and their suppliers are all signed up to it. It’s about responsibility for our whole supply chain and our planet. We can’t forget the human beings involved in that journey, it’s about protecting them as well.
Jackie: By setting targets for ourselves and our partners we’ve seen some really remarkable changes already. Like investment in renewable energy and enhanced ways of managing waste and water.
Jackie: What do you think your proudest achievement has been with these changes?
Martyn: One of mine would be the positive impact our ESG strategy can have for our Partners. For example, we were hoping to start working with a particular production facility, but when myself and the team went to tour it we found it wasn’t meeting our standards as a working environment for the people there. Instead of walking away, we helped them to draw up a six-month action plan to fix the issues. We also encouraged them to install solar panels so now they make 90% of their own energy. What would yours be, Jackie?
Jackie: I love that. I think mine would be the sustainable changes we’ve made to our customer order packaging, launching in autumn. It’s now 100% made from recycled materials, and 100% of it can be recycled. Plus, since 2018 all of our plastic bag packaging is HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) and can be fully recycled into a new plastic bag again and again, with no need to create new plastic.
Martyn: This is the perfect moment to mention this year’s World Environment Day theme is #BeatPlasticPollution, with a focus on finding solutions to single use plastic.
“From handbags to our clothing, quality and practicality are key at Radley London. Because they’re meant to last forever.”
BUY WELL TO BUY LESS
Martyn: I hope that’s something our customers know, so they can be assured we’re always looking at the next step to do the best for the planet.
Jackie: And that ties in with all of our designs too. From handbags to our clothing, quality and practicality are key at Radley London. Because they’re meant to last for a lifetime. We know that buying well to buy less is a key part of being sustainable, it’s something that’s important to me personally too.
Martyn: Outside of work, would you say you make an effort to shop consciously?
Jackie: I try to, especially when it comes to food. I’ll buy organic and locally grown where possible. And for clothing and accessories I’ll choose sustainable materials wherever possible. I only buy items I can see myself wearing for years to come.
Martyn: I’m the same. I’m a big fan of buying vintage as well, you know it’s good quality if it’s already lasted for years. That’s why we sell leather care products after all, if you take good care of your Radley it will just get better with age.
“If I’ve learned anything about the Radley team, it’s that nothing is impossible for us.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Jackie: Speaking of age, what’s your biggest hope for the future?
Martyn: I hope that the world will become more conscious of the impact we can all have for the better. Actively looking at actions we can take, a good example of that is the Rimba Raya project. Many different partners - including Radley London - come together to support this area of naturalised rainforest and it does so much good, for the environment, wildlife and people who live there.
Jackie: Carbon zero is my vision for the future of Radley London. We’re working towards it every day and I know we’ll get there because every one of us has the same vision. And if I’ve learned anything about the Radley team, it’s that nothing is impossible for us.
Thanks Jackie and Martyn, and happy World Environment Day to you both.