One woman who's committed to proving the fashion industry can (and should) do better when it comes to sustainability is Grace Beverley. A British fitness influencer turned business owner, Grace started her activewear company TALA in 2019 to show that sustainability is not only achievable but that if a startup is able create a sustainable clothing line — and carve out a strong foothold in the industry — then big businesses have no excuse.
"I don't believe there is any space for unsustainable brands anymore," Grace said when she sat down with POPSUGAR last month. For an influencer with a following of Grace's size (1.5 million and counting), it would have been easy for her to slap her name on a fast-fashion line and watch the money roll in. But that's just not how she does things. "Whether [unsustainable practices] are squeezed out now or later, there is absolutely no space for me to be starting — and I don't mean space in terms of competition, I mean space in terms of the legitimacy — an unsustainable company."
"I don't believe there is any space for unsustainable brands anymore."
TALA was born from Grace's difficulties in finding a brand that aligned with her own personal values. "I think the first thing I realised was that there weren't a lot of brands I could work with without getting criticised for [doing so]," she says.
"I realised that either things were too expensive or they were unsustainable. There are so many things I'd like to change about activewear and clothing: the way it's presented, the way it's marketed, and the way it's made. So, rather than working with a brand that reflected all of these — which was obviously my first thought — I asked myself, what about making one myself?"
Just nine months after launching, TALA is known for more than purely activewear. In the latter half of 2019, it launched lifestyle products, and one that Grace is particularly jazzed about is the fibre filter bags. Simply put, the filter bags (which are made from 100 percent recycled nylon) filter out microplastics released from fabrics during the washing process.
A single six-kilogram wash has the potential to release 700,000 microplastics into the waterways, which adds up to nine trillion fibres per week in the UK alone. "That's one of my favourite TALA products because sure, we can be cool, we can produce things that people love to wear, but actually, we also need to be thinking how we can be the most responsible company we can be."
Image Source: TALA
But Grace doesn't pretend to be perfect either (she admits she hadn't stopped buying fast fashion when she launched TALA), and that's probably what makes her relatable in the first place. Grace's first company, B_ND, sells workout equipment — resistance bands, dumbbells, and workout mats, for example — and is constantly striving to reduce the brand's environmental footprint while acknowledging it's an ongoing process.
"We are utilising the latest technology and materials to reduce our impact, whilst still ensuring that our high-performance products are still of top quality . . . The latest home collection features biodegradable materials, widely recyclable plastic, and natural rubber."
During our half-hour conversation, I can already tell why Grace's companies, TALA and B_ND, are constantly releasing new products. It's clear that she is always thinking of diversifying and expanding her brands, whether that's with a fresh product, a new celebrity collaboration ("we have quite a few in the pipeline," she says), or expanding further into new markets.
"Sure, we can be cool, we can produce things that people love to wear, but actually, we also need to be thinking how we can be the most responsible company we can be."
From the outside, TALA may look like another influencer brand with near-constant new releases that sell out immediately. But that doesn't seem to be the case here. Instead, TALA aims to provide a genuine alternative to fast fashion with regular new launches — all made from upcycled fabrics and produced in a factory that is certified ethical and guarantees safe and fair conditions for all workers, and with stock amounts determined by demand. "TALA focuses on bringing as much stock as it can afford to each launch," Grace explains. "This way, we can provide a comprehensive and realistic solution to the [fast fashion] issue, rather than hiding behind slow fashion capabilities with limited releases. If we released small stock numbers . . . we wouldn't truly be providing an option to combat the problem."
Along with staunch sustainability messaging, Grace — and by extension TALA — also firmly believes in being both on-trend and inclusive for all bodies, which is obvious in all of the campaigns to date. Women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities are front and centre in every promotional photograph and, surprisingly, Grace hasn't felt pressure to put herself at the centre of the brand. In fact, the opposite is true.
The sizes for TALA's core collection ranges from a UK 4 to 20, and for Grace, this was never negotiable. "That was just one of the things that we knew that the [fashion] industry needed to fix," she says. "And the reaction we get from our campaigns in terms of diversity and everything, just reflects how unusual it is, and how bad it is that it's abnormal." She also admits that creating more sizes naturally creates more work for the factory, but that it wasn't as difficult as the fashion industry currently has us to believe. "With some pieces, it might be something where they literally just put the measurements in there and some, it might be that they need to use different machines for different sizes."
"We knew that if we were going to launch [TALA], we wanted to do it properly. We wanted to show that we're not just here to do a merch line and then come back next year [with another release]. We're a proper company, and we're coming to take up space in the industry."