Meeting Lydia Brayshaw, the owner of the new ethical fashion company, Lydia B.

Words by Verity Hesketh

Lately, the world as we know it has been whipped into a state of overwhelm, blurred by frenzied consumerism and hectic lifestyles. With lockdown signalling an enforced application to the brakes, sustainability, more than ever, is a red-hot topic for the fashion industry. A recent U.N. report said a global climate crisis could occur by 2040 if emissions aren’t rapidly reduced, with fashion production ranked as the second highest polluter in the world. As such, consumerism needs to drastically change, with companies being accountable and transparent in their output, leading the consumer to be able to make considered decisions. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to be kinder, more conscious, more aware. 

Lydia B. is a new sustainable fashion brand based in Devon, shipping worldwide. Since launching in January 2020, Lydia B. has made clear their mission statement of abolishing fast fashion. All products are made from 100% organic cotton, hand-printed using water-based dyes, and shipped in biodegradable, ocean-friendly, plastic-free packaging. The brand’s attention to these earth-friendly details is so meticulous, that even the gum used to stick the packages together is recycled and biodegradable. 

For every garment sold, a percentage of profits will go directly to a charity, which has been picked to reflect the theme and message of the design on the garment collections. This month, the company is donating to WIRES (Australian Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.), Smart Works and Young Minds. 

As we begin our interview from a social distance on a sunny summers’ day, the bucolic Devon background seems about a million miles away from any of the alarming scenes of grimy factories and sullied rivers that we may have glimpsed behind the gleaming scenes of the global fashion industry.

Lydia Brayshaw, the founder of Lydia B., despite a well-mannered air and sense of easy-going grace, has a passion for justice that practically blazes through her.

“When I’ve been in a big store before, seeing racks and racks of brand new clothes, I find myself thinking, ‘Where do these clothes come from? And where do they go?’…

“They’re making too much for people to buy. There are billions of clothes being churned out on the daily, on the minute – too many clothes for us. And I just hate that. I hate knowing that it’s worthless, they’re not going to last, and they’ll be forgotten about all too quickly.

“The amount of clutter we’re creating, crowding our oceans and our land, really, really bothers me.

“I guess I woke up to the appalling state of the industry a few years ago, and I couldn’t sit with the knowledge I had begun to gather any longer. I knew I had to do something. The idea for a company started brewing away.” 

Lydia’s call to action came at the end of 2019, when large parts of Australia were being devastated by the wildfires. She recounts, “People’s worlds as they knew them were literally going up in flames, and no-one was taking notice over here. I pledged to donate a substantial part of our profits to WIRES. We didn’t know how it would go, but we were bowled over by the initial sales. Once our story was picked up by the local media, we were flying through orders, and ended up making $2,339 for WIRES across the first 5 months.”

Such an instantly positive response had nothing to do with random luck, however. A combination of quiet fervency, determination, and sheer hard graft, has proved Lydia Brayshaw is a force to be reckoned with. Designing alone, but supported by an enthusiastic team made up of her Mum Claire and cousin Cal, Lydia is selling clothes that manage to be cool, timeless, wearable and pretty bloody comfortable (by the end of the interview I’ve already placed an advance order for one of the new t-shirt dresses).

Lydia B. stands for comfortable, affordable staples that really last the test of time. And what happens when they really do wear out? Lydia laughs, “I’d be so happy to know that once my clothes have gone beyond repair that they could still be used as dusters or patches. There’s no excuse for not reusing resources like that.”

Apart from her overriding passion for sustainability, Lydia also derives much of her inspiration for design from art and literature. “In times of darkness we look for the light wherever we can find it. I find it with my family, in the books I read, the paintings that I look at, in my own artwork, in the garden here. In any glow that I can find.”

On these encouraging words, we wrap up the interview. There is, of course, so much more to be said and found out, but by making a stand for sustainable fashion, and supporting companies like Lydia B., you, the consumer, are playing your part in making a powerful societal change. You are buying garments that not only fit you, but fit nature too. 

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