The Mindful Materialist
Brand Spotlight: Lucy and Yak
Designed in UK | Made in India | Women | Men | Non-binary | Organic | Recycled | $-$$
In light of updating my brand directory with labels from Europe and the UK, I thought I'd give you a rundown of one of my absolute favourites: Lucy and Yak!
If you haven't heard of them, then welcome to their wonderfully colourful, comfy and cool world. Lucy and Yak is the brainchild of Chris Renwick and Lucy Greenwood and their campervan called Yak. Known for their unisex dungarees, the pair gained a cult following for their designs.
It all started when Chris and Lucy quit their jobs and went travelling for a few years, making money by selling tobacco pouches which they made out of old clothes. Eventually they went back to the UK and sold second hand clothes out of Yak. It was here that the design idea for dungarees developed. So what do you do when you have a design idea and a desire to produce it ethically? Travel of course! The pair went to China and Thailand before finding their perfect fit in India with Ismail in Rajasthan. From having 30 pairs on Depop, building a website and working out of Lucy’s mum’s basement, Lucy and Yak have developed a cult following and regularly sell out of their signature dungarees.
They now have about 50 people working in Rajasthan and are installing solar panels with the intention of going off-grid. They are committed to paying a living wage, and each of their sewers has a number which they stitch into the garment so shoppers can look up who made their clothes and learn a bit about them. Ismail’s Rajasthan workers are paid four times the state minimum wage, and they work in a clean, air-conditioned newly completed factory. They’ve also recently developed a ‘Made in the UK’ collection which is all sewn in Barnsley, Yorkshire. Lucy’s dream is that they will “inspire a new generation of seamstresses and machinists to train and learn these wonderful skills so that they don’t die out”.
Lucy and Yak also value diversity and inclusivity. Their dungarees have continued to be a unisex design and they use models who vary in size and identity. That said, they have acknowledged a lack of racial diversity in their UK team, and a lack of gender diversity in their Rajasthan team. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the death of George Floyd, Lucy and Yak have opened up about the demographics of their staff and the actions they’re taking to implement change. You can read more about their plan and their progress here.
Lucy and Yak use organic yarn which is hand woven in India. Chris regularly visits the factories, and you can see photos of the process on their website. They are trying to reduce their carbon emissions by keeping their fabric production and garment construction in the same country, while their factory is having solar panels installed. They also use low impact dyes on their fabrics. They use 100% recycled bags for packaging their garments, and their postal bags are biodegradable. Their return slips and thank you cards are also made from recycled card. They’re currently working on a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles too! Also on their website is a range of ‘zero-waste living’ items for sale including tote bags, food packaging and a washing bag which traps microfibre filaments.
Range of products
It’s all well and good for a brand to have great ethics and sustainable practices, but the products also have to be worth buying. I can assure you Lucy and Yak does not disappoint here!
Along with their signature dungarees, they make a great range of tees, pants, jumpers, jackets, socks and boilersuits. They have their staple items which never change, and some limited edition special releases. They’re also a really affordable brand for their high ethical standards.
Check them out here.