Talking slow fashion with Genia from BEEN London

This year’s Fashion Revolution Week (22-28 April 2019), marks 6 years since the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. That day, 1,138 textile workers died and over 2,500 were injured, all in the name of fast fashion.

Fashion Revolution honour this event every April during Fashion Revolution Week. The campaign asks #WhoMadeMyClothes?, in order for consumers to pressure manufacturers for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. Through emailing your favourite label or reaching out on social media, we can make clear that it is not OK for brands to allow working conditions that are unethical and dangerous.

Fashion Revolution Week is also a great chance to learn about the exciting new brands offering an antidote to fast fashion. To tell us more about this slow fashion movement, we spoke to Allia co-fellow and general amazing woman Genia Mineeva. She’s the founder of BEEN London, a sustainable fashion brand using recycled materials to create beautiful handbags and accessories, all handmade in London.

Why did you want to create a sustainable fashion brand?

There was never really a moment when I decided to create a brand. At a certain point I just got really angry about the waste we’re all creating, realised I was part of the problem and decided to do something about it.

My idea was to create products that don’t just reduce the amount of waste going to landfill but also tell a story (I’m an ex-journalist).

For example, not many people know that the leather goods industry discards almost 80% of each hide! I thought making bags from that would raise awareness of the problem and use up the trimmings at the same time.

The other frustrating thing was greenwashing. As a consumer I just felt that I could fall for any sustainability claims, true or false. I spent a year studying Sustainability at Cambridge and the brand was born from there.

What measures do you take to create a sustainable product?

We start with a problem and try to build a product that addresses it in some way. All our zips and lining for example are made from recycled plastic bottles.

In fact, the challenge was to make an entire product from recycled materials but make sure it looks amazing and doesn’t cost a month’s salary for people like you and me.

Considering that we make everything by hand in London, the latter is tricky. But we’re proud that our accessories are only a tiny bit more expensive than say COS. So paying £10 extra for something made locally and entirely from awesome, recycled materials feels like a good deal to me!

Who are your other favourite ethical brands right now?

I’ve always loved Patagonia’s approach to life and running a business. The founder is just incredible. I also love VEJA for brilliant design, Everlane for radical transparency and our Hackney locals Henri and REN for the beautiful aesthetic and making things locally, just like us.

Where can we buy BEEN?

On our website! We’re also stocked by our friends at Social Supermarket and Moonifiq.

And we’ll be taking part in a few pop-ups in the next few months. Come to Hackney Made Collective in May – our new collection will definitely be there!

Follow Good Beans on Twitter all this week for more slow fashion news and tips to change your fashion habits for the better.

Good Beans is an ethical marketing and communications agency working with social enterprises, charities and organisations that want to be better. Want to reach more people? Contact us.