Hazel Needham

Hazel Needham

Lucy and Yak are one of the UK’s leading sustainable fashion brands, breaking down the walls between fashion consciousness and style. Their colourful approach to not only their clothing but also their philanthropy has made them hit top eco-aware fashion lists the internet over.

Started as most great sustainable stories start, with a team of two and a small idea, their passionate workforce is working towards even more growth and sustainable solutions. 

lucy and yak hero image logo taken from lucyandyak.com

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Where it all began 

Founders Lucy and Chris first began their journey into sustainable fashion in New Zealand, after quitting their day jobs and making the choice to travel the world. Not imagining that years later Lucy and Yak would be born with their flagship store in Brighton, they sold handmade pouches made right there on the beach to travellers. Discovering a love for passing on something handmade and special, they decided to travel for a few more years, eventually coming back to the UK and buying a van, calling it their namesake “yak”.

Story of Yak

Yak was born in a van

Travelling around in their van Yak, clothing became a mainstay of their lives. They thrifted and sold vintage finds to get by, when the lightbulb moment happened. Lucy and Chris had designs of their own to make, and so they went on a search for manufacturers to make what they were really passionate about, dungarees! 

Always having ethics at the forefront of their business, they searched for a manufacturer that upheld the same ideas, eventually finding them in Rajasthan in India. Finding an ethical supplier for clothes is no small task, but with their new buddy Ismail, they found not only someone who could bring their ideas to life but a friend in the process!

30 pairs of dungarees all sold out later, the pair needed to expand, later making a website with their new name “Lucy and Yak”, fully established their business in the UK and went from working in their parent’s basement to their first warehouse, which they quickly outgrew. 

Now they have 13 employees all on the living wage, a bright and clean warehouse in India (mostly solar-powered, woohoo!), and of course their Brighton flagship store which houses their colourful array of sustainable, organic dungarees. A true success story right from the heart!

people wearing lucy and yak dungarees in varied colours from lucyandyak.com

Sustainable clothing, ethical changes

Okay so Lucy and Yak make some fire dungarees, but what is a great looking brand without being a wavemaker in ethical positive change? 

As one of the UK’s leading ethical brands, Lucy and Yak are no strangers to an awesome cause. Currently, the brand donates about 10% of their sales between two charities, one in Rajasthan India where the clothes are made, and one right here in the UK. 

The first chosen charity is the Fior Di Loto Foundation based in Pushkar in India. Run by Deepu and Mara, the charity works to provide schooling to girls in the area that may not have had access to education. Having a presence that focuses on education makes a huge difference at a grassroots level. Girls that would have had to do manual labour jobs for very little money, now have the means to be doctors, teachers, and nurses. Who knows, maybe some of them will run a business like Lucy and Yak one day? 

children helped by the fior di loto foundation taken from Lucyandyak.com

The team made some children’s breakfasts’ magical

The second is the Magic Breakfast right here in the UK. 2020 pushed schools to their breaking point during the pandemic, and Lucy and Yak knew something had to be done to help. Founder Carmel McConnell MBE interviewed five headteachers in the London borough of Hackney, who told her that many pupils arrived at school too hungry to learn. On hearing this, Carmel started buying food and delivering it to schools at breakfast time.

And with the students fed, they saw an enormous uptick in behaviour, punctuality and overall concentration which can only mean better things for their futures! After establishing Magic Breakfast, they now provide a healthy start to around 48.400 children in England and Scotland during term time and offer food and activities during holiday time.

transparency on who made their clothes taken from fashion revolution

The fashion revolution and sustainable supply chains

Lucy and Yak believe in starting somewhere. They know that for far too long fast fashion has been the dominating force in the industry, and are seeking to change that by holding themselves and brands accountable for their supply chains. Their dungarees are made for the long haul, and they even have styling references all over their website on how to get the most use out of their clothing!

They do understand that clothes have a shelf life though, whether they’ve just been loved so hard it’s time for them to go, or they just aren’t your thing anymore (it happens) and need to go to a new home. 

As true ambassadors of less waste going to landfill, they’ve made innovative movements that show you how to upcycle when you’ve just worn your yaks to death, and by creating a buy/sell/and swapping page for like-minded yakkers who need a fresh style injection. 

Positivity is everywhere with this brand, and they even have a page for you to sign the 2018 fashion revolution manifesto, which covers just about everything from ethical supply chains, transparency and accountability!

Flagship Store - Range laid out

Traceability from field to fibre 

Lucy and Yak garments are made organically, and they work super closely with their suppliers to make sure that every garment that comes out of their factories are as super low impact as possible. Lots of big companies who peddle “Organic cotton” are in fact greenwashed, essentially lulling the customer into a false sense of security and offering goods they may have harmed the environment, and not passed through the right pathways to make sure the people making your clothes are being paid a fair wage and being kept out of danger. To ensure this doesn’t happen at Lucy and Yak, they actually get to know their growers. Making double, double sure that what’s going into their stores isn’t adding to the harmful fashion industry.

explaining how and where Lucy and Yak get their cotton taken from lucyandyak.com

On their page, you can even meet the farmers that are behind trialling two pairs of fully traceable cotton dungarees, dyed using low impact Oeko-Tex approved dyes.

Making beautiful clothing out of recycled plastic

One of the biggest issues in the fashion industry right now is plastic. Every cheap polyester garment you buy is puffing out fumes into the atmosphere causing climate change. However, there is a way to help. Lucy and Yak make all of their polyester from old plastic bottles, saving them from being dumped in the sea or filling up landfills! It uses way less energy making them this way, meaning that even less pollution comes from making their colourful designs. 

Some of their lines are also made with Seacell, which is a combo of seaweed and wood pulp, and yes, it’s completely biodegradable. How can seaweed and wood pulp be comfortable you ask? It’s actually incredibly soft, and soft on the Earth as well, because it’s totally carbon neutral. 

Nothing harmful is released as waste here due to its closed-loop system, everything that is used gets recycled, a win-win for the environment!

product shot of “albuquirky” top in recycled polyester taken from lucyandyak.com

Lucy and Yak are always consciously growing and tweaking things to get them as close to environmentally and ethically perfect as possible. We can’t wait to see the mark they make on eco-fashion!  Check out their new traceable cotton line on their website. 

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