When founder Grace Beverley shifted from fast fashion to more sustainable options in her everyday clothing, she found a host of responsibly made options in every category other than activewear. The activewear industry - despite booming - was completely underserved when it came to responsibly made alternatives, especially at a price point that wasn't eye-watering.
That's the idea that started TALA: If you could buy the same quality activewear at the same price, but made in an environmentally and socially conscious way, wouldn't you?
TALA is a female-led brand on a mission to make consciously-made active and off-duty styles accessible and inclusive, without sacrificing performance or fit. We exist to show the industry that better options are available, if and when you choose to shop.
The notion of sustainability in fashion itself is an oxymoron, which sparks complex debate entwined with systemic issues around privilege, consumerism, and capitalism. This means that sustainability is nuanced, and should be viewed as a fluid concept rather than one with black and white yes or no. That's why we limit the use of this word - whenever we can, we try to be more specific about our actions instead of merely saying we're sustainable.
For us at TALA, sustainability is a progressive journey; not an end destination. It is about making choices that demonstrate we can do better, as an industry.
Part of the Problem
Worldwide, the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017).
It is estimated that more than half of the fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017).
Existing in the fashion industry, we recognise we are both part of the problem, as well as trying to be part of the solution. As a product-driven business, we rely on creating items that are profitable to disrupt the market to deliver options that are made responsibly, compared with industry alternatives. If we don't do this, it gives more space for unsustainable options to thrive as the only options in the marketplace. Given that people will shop, we want to be a better solution. We know that recycled materials aren't the perfect solution and we know there are complexities and multiple barriers to living more sustainable lifestyles and accessing sustainable products. But merely finding sustainable products you can trust shouldn't be so difficult.
Part of the Solution : Product
Our talented product design team and our trusted suppliers work together to create pieces that are versatile and made to last. We pride ourselves on creating wardrobe staples, to be thought-out investments to wear not just for one season.
At TALA, we release collections that are data-driven, and responsive according to what our TALA community wants. Being a social media-focused brand, we can understand Team TALA's likes and dislikes, and with every launch, we have learnings along the way to better inform our buying practices.
Our collections are carefully conceptualised and created, and made with recycled and naturally sourced materials. This is intended to reduce strain on the environment utilising pre- and post-consumer 'waste', turning this into valuable materials such as in SkinLuxe, DayFlex and Sculpt Seamless collections. Our 365 basics are made from wood pulp-based fibre sourced from sustainably managed forests, all of which are certified under strict guidelines.
You can read more about what all we’re doing with our design, fabric, and factories in section III. Product below.
Part of the Solution : Beyond Product
Packaging: We removed packing slips from all website orders in 2022- this removes 150,000 pieces of paper per year (and even our clothing tags are plantable!). We also have some exciting packaging updates happening in 2023. There are lots of options that look better optically, but might create more waste even when they say they’re better for the planet (eg: biodegradable packaging that actually takes thousands of years to biodegrade, and recyclable packaging that you can’t put in your home recycling). In our packaging refresh, we are considering each element to ensure that they are better in practice - stay tuned!
HQ: Our London office is run on 100% renewable energy and everyone at HQ uses public transport, walking or cycling to get to work (shout out to the cyclists). We work with a local eco-friendly dry cleaning and laundry service to clean clothing for all of our photoshoots. They use an innovative laundry process that recycles water and prevents over 95% of plastic microfibers from entering our oceans (they even collect and drop via bike!).
Circularity: We are continuously learning and striving to support driving a global shift, from the linear 'take, make, dispose of' economy, to a more circular economy. We believe circularity will be the future of fashion, and have some very exciting things happening in 2023 about circularity - more to come very soon!
That said, we also recognise there are practical barriers to making this industry shift. Some people may not want to rent or buy pre-owned activewear (shoutout to those that are happy to!). While we’re making strides towards offering a circularity option, we want to give people other options that help prevent people from having to switch back to less responsible alternatives. By creating items that consider our sustainability values right from design stage to end of life, we are working toward industry solutions that our community can stick to. We are incredibly grateful to our TALA community, for giving us the opportunity to push industry barriers; today and everyday.
We're always open ears to new ideas from our TALA community, so if you think we can do things better, please let us know on email@example.com
At TALA, we recognise the interconnectedness of people and nature. We cannot expect our environment to flourish unless human relationships are nurtured; from empowering our talented factory workers to our HQ team, or our dedicated TALA community that inspires us to drive accessibility in the industry every day; people are at the core of TALA.
We only work with ethical, accredited factories. Built on shared values and collaboration, our suppliers are our partners. All our supplier partners are accountable to our supplier code of conduct, which is based on international regulations set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and the United Nations Global Compact and aim to be aligned with industry best practices, such as the Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code. The factories we use are independently audited and certified to meet globally recognised social and environmental standards under ISO, Sedex, and WRAP.
We know the industry can do better collectively, and we want to be part of the change.
Accessibility is at the heart of why TALA began in the first place; we know there are barriers to clothes that are made ethically and with responsible materials.
"I want to be able to go on a website like everyone else, pick something I like, find my size, and buy it like everyone else and not feel 'othered' or 'separated' or have to investigate to find it." - A quote from our Project Size Expansion Focus Group
We are turning 4 years old in 2023, and although we knew from the start that we wanted to represent more sizes, we started the process of offering a (more) complete size range in earnest in 2020. In 2023, we finally launched sizes 2XS-4XL with our Project Size Expansion. We believe that the fashion industry should be a place where everyone feels welcome, to express themselves in whatever way makes them feel good.
At HQ, Collaboration and knowledge sharing are what drives change. We regularly re-group sessions to touch base, to make sure all areas of the business are working in alignment with our mission. We do events at TALA HQ including a swap shop for halloween and we always want to extend the life cycle of our clothes.
We feel very strongly about celebrating women every single day - from our team to our customers to the people who make our clothes. We believe in celebrating women every single day; at TALA we are:
👩💻75% of board seats are held by women
👩💻75% of leadership positions are held by women
(in an industry where around 86% of top clothing brands are owned and run by men)
We champion quality and durability; no stock to landfill.
We never make products specifically for discount or sale promotions. If our stock doesn't sell as we expected, we do engage in sales or other responsible solutions to make sure all our products make it to a loving home (aka not landfill!).
We recognise that sustainability is intertwined with the privilege of choice. We take part in sales because they break those barriers to enable more people to shop TALA. Not to mention (we know you're thinking it) we're also a business, and we have to remain profitable to challenge business as usual for the fashion industry. You can learn more about this in our Black Friday post.
When it comes to choosing where we make our next collection, we look at several different factors - materials, price, labour practices, and the environmental work of the factories. We recognise our responsibility to the people involved in the production of our garments, including those we both directly and indirectly employ. We have developed trusted relationships with key suppliers and now work with them regularly, which is our way of better supporting their workforce, through a predictable flow of orders.
Partnership Purpose: We wanted to find the perfect partner for SZN - our outerwear collection - and TALA Swim. We found an industry-leading outerwear manufacturer with supply chain transparency and the ability to create recycled garments that deliver style and functionality.
Our supply partners in Vietnam use factories powered by solar panels and provide support to workers and the local community via coaching schemes, learning and development programs, charitable donations, and provided support during COVID-19.
Responsible Sourcing Certifications: SA800 and ISO 9001 certified, and our swim factory received zero non-compliances in their latest audit (very impressive).
First worked with TALA: October 2021
Partnership Purpose: Our suppliers in Turkey manufacture some of our sweats and activewear products, including our Sculpt Seamless Collection. They are in the process of utilising the latest technology to open a 'green' factory, a signal to our shared values; powered by solar panels. The factory we work with is at the forefront of innovation and research, having partnered with a leading UK university to research how materials can absorb microplastics. Our Sculpt Seamless is created in a tube, where fabric is utilised fully, therefore limiting wastage in the production process.
Responsible Sourcing Certifications: SEDEX-SMETA: Globally Recognised Standards for ethically responsible practices and fair working conditions.
First worked with TALA: 2020
Partnership Purpose: Our China supplier is based near Shanghai. Our supplier is audited by accredited third parties to ensure legislative compliance and globally recognised social and environmental standards are met. We have a particularly strong relationship with this factory. There are widespread biases when it comes to Chinese production, so we find it incredibly important to be transparent about our own experience.
The geographical location of where your factory is isn't a confirmation of everything being OK (ex: manufacturing in the UK doesn't mean acceptable working conditions and manufacturing in China doesn't mean poor working conditions). So instead, we use legitmate third-party accreditation and every supplier - regardless of geographical location - adheres to our Code of Conduct to ensure human rights are upheld to standards set by the UN agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Every collection we create is only done so after the accreditations of the factories are confirmed, and we work hard to get to know our manufacturing partners and the impact they make for their workers and communities.
Responsible sourcing certifications: WRAP - Gold certificate, SEDEX-SMETA: Globally Recognised Standards for ethically responsible practices and fair working conditions.
First worked with TALA: 2021
China (for Accessories)
At TALA, we are proud to be working with a leading supplier for our accessories collection. They tick every box required under the TALA Supplier Code of Conduct which is informed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and aligned with industry best practices, such as the Ethical Trade Initiative Base Code.With over 25+years experience in manufacturing, they work with the top sustainable brands - and have built from these core values since the start. With a UK based design headquarters, and a quality team based in China, every factory is regularly audited to meet international standards.
Responsible Sourcing Certifications:
Globally Recognised Standards for ethically responsible practices and fair working conditions - SEDEX-SMETA.
Certified Organic: Global Recycle Standard.
First worked with TALA: 2023
Partnership Purpose: We knew we wanted to create the perfect TALA cargos, so we went on the look for a factory that wouldn't compromise on our values or commitments.
Our supply partner in Pakistan has an extensive array of responsible sourcing accreditations, going beyond industry standard. They are dedicated to training and supporting the development of staff, and are aligned in our mission to do better. Just one example of the social sustainability work they do is a charity partnership to fund a local school for hundreds of underprivileged children.
Responsible Sourcing Certifications:
Globally Recognised Standards for ethically responsible practices and fair working conditions (SEDEX-SMETA, BSCI + ISO9001).
Certified Organic: Organic Content Standard.
First worked with TALA: 2023
Our factories in Portugal have been important partners since the start of our TALA journey. They produced several of our best-selling products including the Zinnia and Luna leggings. The companies that we have worked with in Portugal have been audited by SEDEX. The SEDEX audit is based on site visits, policy reviews and interviews with the teams. It focuses on health and safety, labour, environment, and business ethics.
Responsible sourcing certifications: SEDEX-SMETA: Globally Recognised Standards for ethically responsible practices and fair working conditions.
First worked with TALA: 2019
Made with recycled and naturally sourced materials.
The clothing industry's CO2 emissions are expected to rise to nearly 2.8 billion tonnes per year by 2030. These are equivalent to emissions produced by nearly 230 million passenger vehicles driven for a year, assuming average driving patterns (Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, 2017).
Multi-functional, made to last, and oh so flattering….
We consider the full lifecycle of items when we are conceptualising new products, which is why our products always contain recycled content or naturally sourced materials. That means utilising recycled nylon (Hello Skinluxe 76% recycled!) or creating the perfect wardrobe staple or Tencel Modal Fabric, sourced from the pulp of beech trees in responsibly managed forests (we're looking at you 365).
Whilst we'd love to use all natural fibres, we believe first and foremost in creating great quality activewear that lasts, and it has to perform or you'll go back to less responsible alternatives. We love Modal in our 365 collection, but that wouldn’t make sense in a performance legging - so we turn to recycled fibres.
We use recycled materials because, to us, it makes no sense that materials would go to landfill or to our oceans when we could incorporate them into your favourite leggings. Utilising existing materials means they have already been through the initial production process, and therefore reduces the environmental impact of creating products made entirely from virgin materials.
Some quick definitions:
Post-consumer recycled materials: a product or fibre which would be disposed of as solid waste, having reached the end of the product life cycle. E.g. plastic bottles, collected as part of a recycling program, melted down and made into new clothing fibres, often used to create Recycled post-consumer polyester. We use post-consumer recycled materials in our Sculpt Seamless collection.
Pre-consumer recycled material: a fibre or by-products generated after manufacture of a product is completed but before the product reaches the end-use consumer. At TALA, this often means using factory offcuts, which would otherwise end up as waste or in landfill, to create new products. We use Pre-consumer recycled materials in our DayFlex, SkinLuxe and FormTech collections (among others!).
Each fabric behaves differently when recycled so exact impact statistics are an industry challenge for traceability and data gathering.
We use polyester in collections like FormTech because it is flexible, sweat-wicking, strong, and durable.
By working with the recycled alternative to polyester, we can sidestep the oil extraction required to make conventional, virgin polyester. Recycled polyester often comes from post-consumer plastic waste such as using plastic bottles, packaging, or other textile pre-consumer waste as its raw material. This is then spun into yarn, to create a durable fabric, used in items that don't need to be washed regularly, like our SZN Outerwear.
We know that polyester takes hundreds of years to decompose and can lead to microfibres escaping into the environment.
By working with recycled polyester we can create a product that lasts, at a more accessible price point to introduce more recycled alternatives to the market.
Certified Recycled: Global Recycled Standard.
We use Recycled nylon in collections like SkinLuxe and Dayflex because of its elasticity, and strength as well as its sweat-wicking properties. Recycled nylon doesn't lose its shape as quickly as other fibres, which is why it's an excellent choice for our activewear collections; ready for the perfect stretch. We know recycled materials are not the ultimate solution, and recycled nylon is still plastic-based (synthetic), which means it does release microplastics during the wash phase.
Certified Recycled: Global Recycled Standard.
The softness of TENCEL™ Modal fibres lasts longer and can withstand repeated wash and dry cycles compared to cotton, according to Tencel. It’s x2 the softness of cotton - what is not to love?
Certified material: TENCEL™ Modal fibres are certified with the internationally recognised EU Ecolabel, an environmental quality label only awarded to products and services which have a significantly lower environmental impact throughout their entire lifecycle.
Conventionally grown cotton is a water and chemical-intensive process. It's no surprise that conventional cotton no longer fits the bill (or the t-shirt). Growing it is chemical-intensive, impacting local biodiversity, and therefore the community of those in conventional cotton growing areas.
By working with certified organic cotton, such as for our sweats, we can create a product that we know has 0 harmful chemicals in the cotton growing process, and is softer and longer lasting than the conventional alternative. This also means cotton is naturally biodegradable in the right compost conditions. It can decompose and revert right back to nature.
Certified Organic: GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard)
Viscose by LENZING™ ECOVERO™
Biobased: LENZING™ Modal fibres are mainly manufactured from beech wood — a natural and renewable raw material - sourced from sustainably grown forests in Austria and neighbouring countries, as certified by USDA Certified Biobased Product.
Viscose is a semi-synthetic fibre that's made from trees, and is the third most commonly used textile in the world! More than 150 million trees are logged each year to turn into cellulosic fabric which is why we only use the sustainably sourced wood pulp used for our Airlayer Top.
Certified: EU Ecolabel, an environmental quality label only awarded to products and services which have a significantly lower environmental impact throughout their entire lifecycle.
We use virgin materials too.
In our products we use blends of recycled or naturally sourced materials, this includes using lycra and elastane. This is due to the nature of our business - we make activewear that requires lightweight and stretchable materials. Considering this, we are proud to have strong connections with supplier partners at the forefront of innovations; we are always on the lookout for new materials to push industry barriers.
Still got questions? Check out our FAQs below
PURPOSE. PEOPLE. PRODUCT.
At TALA, we prioritise consistent progress over perfection. We know sustainability is a journey, and will always be transparent and honest with our TALA community. In order to make a difference to the planet, we strongly believe that we don't need one person doing sustainability perfectly, we need many many people doing it imperfectly, and thus we must provide solutions to do so. We are excited to share our progress with you. Like anyone, we’re not always going to get it right, but we're fed up with the industry not even trying to do better.
The industry norm is hiding from big questions when it comes to sustainability - it's seen as easier to pretend it doesn't exist than to have difficult conversations. We don't believe in shying away from complex conversations - we believe in having them so that you can decide whether we are a more sustainable solution for you or not. So here are our responses to questions you SHOULD be asking all brands you shop from!
Why do you release launches so frequently?
At TALA we deliver items to be thought-out investments not just for one season. We release collections that are data-driven, and responsive according to what our TALA community wants. Being a social media-driven brand, we can understand Team TALA's likes and dislikes, and with every launch, we have learnings along the way. When we are releasing a new collection, we buy in low quantities to start, to test interest before ordering more later in the year according to what we learn. An example: we initially dropped our DayFlex flare in one length, and listened to community feedback to now offer it in 30" and 33".
At the same time, 50% of our customers each month are new. So while it might look like each collection is designed to fill up the same people’s wardrobe, continuing to innovate allows us to reach new people, introducing them to the more responsible alternatives to fast fashion that TALA is committed to providing. It’s important for us to keep disrupting and changing shopping habits to prioritise long-lasting, conscious buys over fast-fashion steals.
Collaboration is essential to propel industry disruption, challenge the status quo, and work together to be better. Brands need to support each other through navigating sustainability, to share knowledge and resources to level each other up.
Choosing to partner with a retailer to stock TALA was a big decision, and one we didn’t take lightly. We wanted a partner who really understood the brand and our values, and wanted to work with us to amplify what we were already doing. Not only do they share aligned values with a stringent sustainability compliance programme, but our aim is to disrupt and challenge the status quo, we can not do this by only targeting the niche of super-sustainable shoppers (we love them too), but we want to compete with the big players, to be accessible to be seen by those that otherwise may choose fast-fashion, to show them more sustainable choices are in reach.
Why do you work with China?
At TALA, we are aware and informed of global social and environmental rights issues - our awareness and disgust with the exploitation of people and the planet were the reason that TALA began, and are why fairness and equality are core to why we started, to show that better can be done as an industry. We would not be working with a factory that was involved in poor human rights of any kind. Every collection we create is only done so after the accreditations of the factories are confirmed; every supplier signs our Code of Conduct to ensure human rights are upheld to standards set by the UN agency, the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The geographical location of where your factory is isn't a confirmation of everything being OK (ex: manufacturing in the UK doesn't mean acceptable working conditions and manufacturing in China doesn't mean poor working conditions). So instead, we rely on third-party accreditation. This includes the globally recognised SEDEX SMETA Audit for social and environmental standards, and the WRAP certification for responsible sourcing (which means not just the factory itself but also the materials used - cotton for example has been particularly problematic for some brands, and we have clear oversight over the sourcing of all our materials).
Our mission is to challenge the fashion industry to do better - to make more sustainable options more accessible - from materials to extending our sizing. This mission includes production and includes challenging our partners, even (some might say especially) in China. We have an incredible relationship with this factory in particular and aren't comfortable with tarnishing an entire country as that in itself can be part of the further entrenching of prejudice.
We are proud of our growth, but the fashion industry is a massive mountain to climb, so we'll focus on that while partnering with factories that align with our values. We understand that if production in China is a deal breaker for you, we will continue to be as transparent as possible so you can make decisions you feel confident in!