When Sustainable Fashion Meets Technology
by WILD FABRIK
It’s 2021 and technology has seamlessly inserted itself into every aspect of our lives. From booking a facial to renting a dog, everyone knows: there’s an app for that. When we launched our company, Cucumber Clothing, making ‘luxurious clothes for everyday’ in 2017, our whole USP posed the question:
What Happens When Fashion Meets Technology?
When creating Cucumber we were intent on making the clothes we could never find. As dedicated wellness fiends (Nancy – basketball and running, Eileen – wild swimming and yoga) we knew from deep experience that the fabrics used in sports and athletic kit were amazing – they kept you cool and dry, whether trail running or doing sun salutations in hot yoga, never seemed to crease, washed easily, dried quickly and seemed to repel odours. We wanted fabrics that did all of this for our brand and also felt and looked gorgeous to wear.
After an enormous amount of research and testing we found the perfect fabric and our first small capsule collection was put together to test the waters. It was very much sleepwear focused with six mix and match pieces. Two days after our launch, the Fashion Director of the Daily Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong wrote a piece about us and our fashion + tech, solutions-based brand.
Our website went crazy and since then we have had a non-stop incredible response, not only from the press, but most importantly, from women all over the world who were looking for beautiful clothing that worked for them, not against them.
We believe this is in no small part due to the fact that consumers have become used to products that are designed well. The deep frustration we all feel when there’s a glitch with our email is not dissimilar to the one we feel when we’re rushing around on a hot day and our clothes let us down, whether with fabric wrinkles, sweat patches or just a dank, clammy feeling. Except somehow, with clothing, it feels so much more personal.
The technology exists and now there is no reason not to wear clothing that not only looks great on, but also keeps you feeling great too.
Since that first collection, we have let our customers lead us. From the start, we received a huge amount of feedback about how great our clothes were for travel/living in a hot climate, for young mums, for curvier women, for women going through medical treatment as well as, of course, for women going through hormonal fluctuations. All the positives of wicking, anti-crease, anti-bacterial (anti-odour), cold wash, hang dry translates brilliantly to the manic everyday lives of women of every age.
Since the cornerstone of Cucumber Clothing rests on our fabrics, people are often understandably curious about how they work and what they are made of. This is an era when sustainability and corporate transparency is a core essential and it is something we have made a pillar of our brand from the start.
Busting The Bias
Many women have a predilection towards using only ‘natural’ fibres, particularly cotton. We are here to bust that bias. Our ultra-modern fabrics are made with a component of polyester. Yes, poly is very much a human-made fibre, and as a result of this, we call ourselves ‘slow fashion’. Our clothes last up to six times longer than cotton, they require very little washing (cold) and little or no ironing and of course keep the wearer cool, crease free and dry.
Over the lifetime of a garment the energy used is minimal. Our clothes are created with the idea that they will form part of someone’s wardrobe for years to come, not just for this season. We want people to understand that some natural fibres, in particular, cotton, are the cause of devastating environmental damage – just google the Aral Sea Basin to see for yourself. We’ve learned there is no single right way to be sustainable, and with every collection we aim to get that bit better.
Some Cool Things We’re Doing To Keep You Cool As A Cucumber
We are proud to be known for our 5-mile radius: everything we design, sample, manufacture, grade and warehouse is all done within a five-mile radius in London, saving on energy and emissions.
We use 100% compostable and biodegradable vegetable starch storage bags, recycled and recyclable postal sacks and packing tape and swing tags made from recycled office waste.\
Most recently we have launched our Loan-to-Own model where customers are able to ‘try before they buy’, renting while wearing items for up to two months before they decide whether or not to keep the garments. Any returned items go straight into our pRELOVED collection, for sale at a reduced price. We have also always accepted worn Cucumber pieces back in any condition for a discount off future purchases, with a promise to repurpose each garment. We are trying hard to achieve circularity.
Our latest fabric incorporates 37.5® Technology which uses 50% plant cellulose made from sustainable beechwood forests and volcanic material (in itself a completely natural product). The best thing of all? It starts to cool you down as soon as your body strays from the ideal core body temperature of 37.5°. This is fashion tech!
We wrote at the beginning of this piece that technology has become an integral part of our lives. With Cucumber Clothing, we’re trying to take the best of tech to help women not just look better, but feel better. We hope you’ll give us a try.
Co-founder of Cucumber Clothing. Cucumber means clothes that give women confidence. Our clothes breathe, cool and wick, they stretch but don’t crease, they love a cold wash and are dry in a few hours. No ironing. These are clothes that are made ethically, locally and sustainably.
“When creating Cucumber we were intent on making the clothes we could never find”
– Eileen Willett