New to HIP for SS21 – conscious by design, non are part of a new age dedicated to environmentally aware production. Launched by Pete Hellyer in 2021, their exclusive selvedge denim is 50/50 certified organic cotton and recycled cotton, which helps with the brand’s commitment to developing circular design practices and zero-waste production processes to […]
New to HIP for SS21 – conscious by design, non are part of a new age dedicated to environmentally aware production. Launched by Pete Hellyer in 2021, their exclusive selvedge denim is 50/50 certified organic cotton and recycled cotton, which helps with the brand’s commitment to developing circular design practices and zero-waste production processes to reduce their impact on the planet.
Pushing forward their commitment to holistic sustainability, non’s full range uses organic and post-consumer recycled materials to create classic denim garments which are both genderless and timeless, ready to be worn for years upon years. We caught up with founder and creative director of non – Pete Hellyer, to talk about starting the brand, the future of denim and more.
Hi Pete, firstly thanks for speaking to us. Please introduce yourself, where you’re from and your background in the creative/clothing world?
I was born on the South Coast of England and moved to London at 21 to work for cult retailer oki-ni, initially as a photographer, before expanding into art and creative direction. At 26, I moved to Montreal to be SSENSE’s first Creative Director before time at Totokaelo and Net-A-Porter in similar roles. It feels like I started yesterday but it’s 15 years and counting now working in the industry.
non began during the initial months of lockdown in 2020, could you tell us in more detail how the initial stages were and what sparked the birth of the brand?
I started non during the very first lockdown in London. The forced changes allowed me to reflect on what I was doing and what I could do going forward. In the last couple of years, like many people, I have become more conscious of my own decisions and wanted to create a brand with a purpose. Two days into lockdown I was trying to find a pair of ‘sustainable’ jeans with a cleaner look, looser cuts and couldn’t… so thought I would make my own.
non touches on a lot of relevant current topics such as focusing on being eco-friendly and low impact, alongside being fully gender neutral. Tell us about how you made sure to incorporate these aspects into the first collection from the jump and any challenges you faced?
Starting the brand from scratch meant we could consider every material, process and partner for it’s environmental and social impact alongside quality and durability. One of the biggest challenges, especially for a small brand, was sourcing materials that fitted our goals. We developed an exclusive selvedge denim with ISKO that is 50/50 recycled and certified organic cotton, and are experimenting with higher percentages of recycled cotton for the future — without losing the right feel and most importantly durability.
Denim has been through many stages over the decades with new trends and phases in fits and fabric composition always coming around. Where do you see the next decade in denim going, with non at the forefront of this new wave?
Denim is the industry’s dirty secret with the average pair of jeans uses up to 13,000 litres of water and produces 20 kilos of co2 production — with six billion pairs made each year. If every pair used more ethical production, quality construction and sustainable materials that would make a huge difference and mean each pair would last longer. We are looking to lead fabric and design innovation, adopting new technologies and be the vanguard for this change. Denim is always in style but hasn’t been on trend for a years now — especially during Covid with everyone (honestly) in sweats at home. I think this will change as a sense of normality returns and some of new styles are designed to bridge the two worlds.
Tell us how you wear non in your daily life, and how you’d like to see non wearers incorporate it their lifestyle?
I honestly live in denim. I am one of those people with a uniform and pair mine with a white tee, skate shoe and bomber, nearly everyday. Our denim is 12oz which is slightly lighter for selvedge so you can wear them all year round — 16oz denim in summer is only for the brave. All our pieces were designed with comfort in mind and the jeans are relaxed cuts.
Is there anything we should keep on eyes out in the coming seasons from non?
We are looking at a series of ‘experiments’ that will push some new ideas and techniques, and some collaborations with like-minded people and brands outside of denim.
Lastly, any final words or advice you’d like to give our readers, in relation to succeeding in the creative world and possibly starting their own brand?
Act on instinct, play to your strengths and know your weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to fail quickly and learn, or simply ask as people are willing to help and share their expertise.