Meet the Founder of Non Denim, the Label That’s “Conscious by Design”

Pictures courtesy of Non. DESIGN BY Danielle Campbell.

Pete Hellyer launched Non with the ambition of constructing change within the denim house. Here is what you might want to know concerning the new London-based line.

Odessa Paloma Parker

Date April 7, 2021

Like many people over the previous yr, Pete Hellyer — founding father of Non, a denim-centric label based mostly in London — has been trying to find which means. With 15 years of expertise within the e-commerce and digital realms of the style trade, he discovered his client-based work was turning into extra sporadic because the pandemic’s maintain intensified. “I had quite a lot of free time, and there was quite a lot of uncertainty,” says Hellyer, who had labored as artistic director for companies together with Ssense and The Outnet earlier than going freelance.
To deliver a little bit cheer into his life, Hellyer — who, once more like many people, discovered himself primarily carrying loungewear all through lockdown — determine to deal with himself to a pair of denims. “I reside in denim,” he notes of his typical apparel. “I’m a type of individuals with a uniform [of] a white tee and denims.”
Discovering a pair with satisfying fashion, sustainability and moral manufacturing credentials proved tough for Hellyer, however the course of sparked an concept. “I believed, I’ve received quite a lot of time on my palms — I’ll make some.” Initially predicting that he might produce a small run of denims that have been each ethically made and environmentally pleasant, the extra Hellyer researched and investigated supplies and manufacturing, the extra he realized he’d have to enhance his scope to show his concept right into a actuality. “Making 100 pairs wasn’t attainable” with the minimums that exist within the textile trade, he says. And so, Non was born.

non denim

Pictures courtesy of Ssense

“I had no intention to launch a trend model, and I don’t determine as a designer,” Hellyer notes, describing the origins of his line as a “comfortable accident.” The title speaks to Non’s lack of brand and branded components, in addition to the truth that the items are non-gendered and its manufacturing endeavours to be non-wasteful. And unofficially, it’s an acronym for the concept of “Now or by no means” — a prescient provocation given the perpetually tumultuous instances we reside in.
“What I’ve actually loved is that it’s given me a way of function,” says Hellyer of the way it’s felt to dive into this new endeavour that has such a well timed mandate. “It’s a mission I actually purchase into and consider in, which I haven’t possibly at all times had in my work. Within the trend trade, there’s not at all times function behind all the things that we do.”
Regardless of its admirable ambitions, Hellyer is hesitant to explain Non as “sustainable,” as an alternative bestowing it with the ethos of “Acutely aware by Design.” The label’s vary of selvedge denim items, which embody quite a lot of jean types, jackets and equipment, are made in Turkey by Isko, a mill that pays staff a dwelling wage and is a bluesign® SYSTEM companion (which means it adheres to strict and secure manufacturing protocols which have an environmentally-sound focus).

non denim

Pictures courtesy of Non

“I needed to push each component so far as we might,” Hellyer notes of the model’s use of vegan natural and recycled supplies, in addition to its unisex design philosophy. Non additionally presents a take-back program for its wares, which means clients can ship in outdated objects, that are donated or recycled, and obtain a reduction their subsequent order.
Moreover, Hellyer strives to provide Non’s clothes an innate versatility (i.e. you may put on them both fitted or outsized) that lends to longevity. “When you’ve got a jacket you could put on a number of methods, it’s like having 4 jackets,” he says of how he envisions design practices enabling clients to undertake higher consumption habits going ahead. “And it’s essential that [these] are objects that don’t age.”
Whereas Non’s types may need an aesthetically timeless high quality, additionally they possess a decidedly trendy side: The inclusion of a scannable NFC tag that enables customers to glean garment care directions and details about the piece’s provenance. This intelligent little bit of tech, created by Non companion Eon, additionally affords future recyclers a breakdown of knowledge to “enhance end-of-life administration” of the merchandise, in keeping with the model’s web site.
“I’ve at all times wrestled with working in trend to some extent,” Hellyer says about why he’s taken such measures together with his fledgling label. “I’m an enormous advocate of non-public fashion and self-expression and individuality; however inherently, being a sustainable model within the trend trade is an issue as a result of the philosophy of the trade is the issue. The very definition of it’s based mostly on redundancy — the truth that one thing is extraordinarily wanted after which not desired six months later.”

non denim

Pictures courtesy of Ssense

In grappling with the complexities of need, want and waste, Hellyer has opted to take an strategy with Non that centres round transparency as an alternative of preaching to or inundating clients with pie charts and infrequently mystifying certifications. “I believe that’s why greenwashing is unfortunately so efficient,” he says about how insider and intellectualized a lot of the dialogue round “sustainable trend” has turn into. Hellyer describes the knowledge offered on Non’s web site as “warts and all,” indicating that there’s nonetheless extra he desires to enhance on inside its manufacturing framework. And it displays the paradoxical nature of sustainability within the trend world.
Hellyer highlights how the present panorama leaves little margin for enchancment as so many points of it are handled as binary points, and that the acknowledgement of who will get to be a “acutely aware shopper” can also be desperately missing. “You’ve individuals who have cash to play gown up and might afford to put on ethically-made merchandise,” he says. “[But] it’s exhausting to disclaim somebody who doesn’t have the disposable earnings the identical type of pleasure or self-expression as a result of they will solely afford garments which can be sadly made much less ethically.”
For his half, Hellyer hopes that the strides he and different like-minded manufacturers are making will affect and encourage extra mass companies, which means that in the end, each shopper could make higher calls in relation to clothes and accent purchases. “It’s thrilling that issues are transferring faster in sure instructions,” he says of the gaining groundswell of biomaterial analysis, thought of manufacturing practices and mounting circularity within the fashion house. But as he so rightly continues, inclusivity should be a part of the equation to actually make these gestures significant.
“If we will be a part of that dialog and present processes and supplies that assist make a change in greater manufacturers and wider components of the trade, that’s going to have a higher affect than if I make a thousand pairs of denims actually ethically and sustainably,” he notes. “That’s not going to vary the world.”


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