Q&A: Holly Allenby of The Acey

We’re lucky at Glasshouse to be surrounded by a circle of likeminded creatives who are doing their bit to champion sustainability in every sense. Holly Allenby is one such person. Our Glasshouse neighbour and founder of ethical womenswear brand The Acey is always impressing us with her forward-thinking way of seamlessly merging sustainability with covetable style. After launching The Acey as an online multi-brand site in 2014, Holly has made the bold decision to relaunch the business with a new model that focuses on simplicity, wearability and a virtually zero-waste supply chain.

Last week, The Acey launched their first direct-to-consumer capsule collection - five styles in ten colourways, all made-to-order in a factory just 30 minutes away from their East London studio. We love Holly’s innovative approach to fashion, only producing garments when they’ve sold which results in no excess stock lying around, no heavily-discounted sales and a confident step away from the traditional season-by-season model. Did we mention their April collection is a dreamy mix of tonal colours, easy shapes and beautiful single-fibre natural fabrics? Designed to slip easily into your everyday wardrobe, The Acey prove that sustainability and style needn’t be two separate entities.

We thought it was a good opportunity to catch up with Holly, as well as sharing her Spring-ready lookbook, photographed in and around East London with hair and makeup by our very own team.

Tell us about the new direction of The Acey and what the brand stands for now.

Our aim is to simplify the search for sustainable clothing. Our goal has always been to make women feel confident in their clothing, both aesthetically and ethically and this remains the same. Just how we do it has evolved from a multi-brand store into a direct-to-consumer, on-demand brand. We believe through simplification of our product offering and production, we can address the pain points of the clothing industry for both our customers and, importantly our environment.

How (and why) did you come to the decision to take everything in house?

Simplification was a key driver in the evolution of The-Acey. We looked at what women really want from their clothing and the experience of finding it. It can feel overwhelming and easy to find yourself buying into a seasonal trend that you regret later. We wanted to streamline the process, so Acey women have more time doing what they love and less time mindlessly scrolling through hundreds of styles wondering what to wear and if it’s made ethically.

By reducing our product offering to small, considered collections designed with the modern woman’s real life in mind - we aim to offer women a wardrobe of functional, beautiful pieces that are relevant for their lives right now. Day one ready to wear. Also by taking our supply chain in-house we can be confident in our footprint and in turn our customers can be.

What influenced your decision to keep no stock and produce everything made to order instead?

Our on-demand order system was inspired by the issue of overproduction in the clothing industry. If something is too readily available it becomes disposable, meaningless and impulse. By operating on-demand we take the guess work out of what women want, at the end of the day we don’t want to put anything into the world unless there’s a demand and purpose for it. We’d prefer to invest in getting one sample of a garment made, shoot it, launch it online and not make it if no one wants it as opposed to making multiple of that garment to find out there’s no need for it. On-demand means no surplus products or sale items. A zero-waste supply chain is our goal.

Have you noticed a shift in the way the consumer shops since you first launched The Acey? If so, why?

We were very early to the ethical clothing movement four years ago when we launched The-Acey as a multi brand ethical store, so we’ve definitely seen a shift in demand and general awareness of the issues the clothing industry faces which is great. The main change I would say is market growth and we’re super proud to have a community of early adopters with us.

What’s your favourite piece from the new collection?

It’s a tricky one as we really did think about the purpose of each product and named them after that intention e.g. The Brunch Blouse, so I genuinely have place for each piece in my wardrobe. But I’d have the say the Everyday Shirt in Navy & Sand, it’s made from a super slinky, feminine Tencel fabric, cut in a masculine silhouette, the perfect combo - it feels sexy for day and night.

What are your hopes for the clothing industry going forward?

Honestly it needs to get with the programme, I have no idea why the clothing industry is still the second most polluting industry in the world (well I do have an idea, but it shouldn’t be). There will definitely be a shift over the next decade and I think technology will play a big part in this.

Finally, describe The Acey woman in three words.

She’s confident, clever and cares.

View The Acey’s new look here or join them on Instagram.

All images: The Acey
Words: Lucy Vincent

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