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Ex-Warehouse executives launch new sustainable brand Albaray

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Mar 15, 2021

Three former Warehouse executives are launching a new sustainable womenswear brand from April, called Albaray.

First revealed by John Lewis in February as one of its new 50 fashion and beauty brands, Albaray will launch with a selection of dresses, separates and loungewear.

Albaray is a sustainable start-up founded by chief executive Paula Stewart, former group chief product officer of Oasis and Warehouse Group, chief creative officer Karen Peacock, ex-design director at Warehouse, and chief commercial officer Kirstie Di Stazio, former commercial director at Warehouse.

The womenswear brand aims to target 25 to 50-year-old women, who are looking for high quality, sustainable clothes that, simply put, “don’t cost the earth,” explains the brand in a press statement, with prices under 90 pounds.

Placing sustainability at its core, Albaray will use 100 percent eco-viscose and 100 percent organic cotton in the majority of its products. The womenswear label will also use recycled materials for product labels and recycled and recyclable paper for its swing tags.

Launching direct-to-consumer via its own website from early April, Albaray will also be available on John Lewis and Next websites in the same month and will be sold in five John Lewis stores when retail reopens on April 12.

Commenting on the launch, Stewart, chief executive at Albaray, said in a press release: “It’s incredible to think about where we all were a year ago – pre-Covid, pre-administration. It’s been a year of enormous change. The pandemic forced us to press pause and reflect on the fashion industry and how we feel it should move forward.

“Subsequently, we have decided to take a more thoughtful approach, talking to a like-minded, environmentally conscious customer, who (like us) loves clothes, but is now questioning the impact of fashion. We believe we should all be buying better and buying less; we also firmly believe that good quality, sustainable clothes shouldn’t just be available at great expense.”

New sustainable womenswear brand Albaray to launch in April

The debut Albaray collection for spring/summer 2021 will feature 85 options, including jersey T-shirts and vests, shorts, dresses, loungewear and jumpsuits, while knitwear will launch for autumn. A key piece from the first collection is a yellow polka dot dress with a shirred waist.

Discussing the design approach, Peacock, chief creative officer, explained: “With our first Albaray collection, there is definitely a nod to the fact that comfortably working from home may well continue for a while yet (yes, there’s a track pant!), but what I’m most excited about is all the colour we’ve used and the prints we’ve created for the dresses in our first collection – I think it’s pretty clear that we’re all ready to have a little fun with fashion again!

“The brand ethos for Albaray is, first and foremost, to design great clothes that women will love. Then, at every stage of the process, we asked ourselves “what is sustainable about this?” If the answer is nothing then we don’t make it - we have to commit to trying as hard as we can to lessen the impact that fashion has on the planet. By choosing a sustainable source of viscose for our printed tops and dresses, organic cotton for our loungewear, we believe that is a step in the right direction.”

Albaray launches less than a year after Warehouse fell into administration in May 2020, and even before launching it has secured retail partnerships with John Lewis and Next, as retailers look to offer consumers more sustainable fashion options.

“Being a start-up has given us the opportunity to build a brand with values that we are passionate about. We care about our people, our practices and the planet – and every step of our supply chain has been considered to reflect our values,” said Di Stazio, chief commercial officer.“We are exclusively working with factories with whom we have long-standing relationships and trust to not only deliver a great quality product, but who we know are committed to looking after the people that make our clothes. Our retail partners John Lewis and Next have also been incredibly supportive and we are thrilled to be launching our brand alongside them.”

Di Stazio added: “What began as a Zoom conversation between friends and colleagues, is now a very real collection of beautiful, women’s clothes; we can’t wait to see them out and about (as we all hope to be) this summer.”

Albaray launches in the UK beginning of April 2021, available via albaray.co.uk, next.co.uk, johnlewis.com and selected John Lewis stores. Retail prices range from 22 pounds for jersey tops to 89 pounds for a jumpsuit, with sizing ranging from UK 8 - 18.

Image: courtesy of Albaray