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Silou London's ethical activewear mission

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Phoebe Greenacre co-founded Silou London to create high-quality activewear with ethical principles

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Phoebe Greenacre founded luxury activewear brand Silou alongside former model Tatiana Kovylina in February 2016. The brand focuses on creating environmentally and socially responsible women’s activewear in minimalist, pared-back designs. It has six UK stockists including Wolf & Badger and Rêve en Vert. Wholesale prices range from £25 for a T-shirt to £85 for leggings. Greenacre tells Drapers about the importance of ethical branding and how yoga shapes her life.

What is your background? What were you doing before you started the brand? Initially I studied Japanese and international business at the University of Wollongong in Australia. After graduating, I took to the corporate world and gained 14 years’ experience across the luxury, wellness and travel industries.

In 2013, I started my own marketing and branding consultancy – The Green Acre Collective – where I had a variety of clients including fashion brands and a start-up activewear brand.

What made you want to set up Silou? Initially I helped Tatiana set up the brand as a consultant, working on the name, branding, designs and website. After a few months working together, she asked me to her business partner. We launched in February 2016.

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Why did you choose to focus on activewear? I suppose you could say the activewear life chose me! Building a brand was a familiar and natural journey for me. After growing up in Australia, sports and fitness were everyday activities, so I grew fond of discovering new brands I liked and designs that worked well inside and outside of the yoga studio.

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What do you think makes the brand unique? Our detail in tailoring and couture finishing sets us apart from others in the marketplace. We use technical finishes that you won’t find in any other activewear brands and the Italian fabrics we use are soft and buttery on the skin.

Why was it important to you to ensure the brand is ethically made? In a world where fast fashion is polluting the world faster than plastic in the ocean, and production communities are being exploited, we wanted to ensure we weren’t fuelling the problem.

We selected factories that are run by women who are paid above a living wage and work in a safe and ethical workplace. We want to ensure that we are both socially and environmentally responsible.

How does you love of yoga influence your work? I started yoga when I was 15 years old with my mum in our local gym. I have practised yoga in more than 50 countries. It wasn’t until I moved to London 15 years later that I became a yoga teacher.

Yoga has given me the skills to understand my body and mind better, and have a broader, more understanding outlook with my team and about building a business. I would like to say that I don’t get stressed or worried when problems arise, but that would be a lie. I’m not a superhuman – I just have a few more yoga-based exercises to manage the stressful workload.

Have there been many unexpected challenges along the way?  There have been many! My background did not include production of any sort, so this has been a huge learning curve for me. Understanding production timelines, seasonal calendars and technical manufacturing terms have all been challenging. Also, dealing with factory delays and managing account expectations have been equally taxing.

Is there anyone in the industry who particularly inspires you? I am inspired by how Gwyneth Paltrow has built her wellness brand, Goop, and integrated her ethical and conscious values throughout the business. Something to aspire to.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?Take a gap year straight after high school. Follow your heart and not what people think you should do. Women’s intuition is strong and powerful. Use it as your sense of judgement in all situations.

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Favourite clothing brands

Rixo London, Everlane, YSL, Reformation

Favourite places to shop

Online always: Net-a-Porter, Everlane, Revolve, Reformation

Last fashion purchase

A Rixo London dress

Last holiday

Australia

Last book you read

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Last film you watched

Wonder

First job

Financial planner

Dream job

TV travel presenter

What would we find you doing at the weekend?

Yoga, weekend city break, spa pampering, and getting outside

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