Welcome to The Sustainable Shopper. Each week, Stylist will talk to the people focused on creating a more conscious shopping space for all. This week, Sophie Larsen – co-founder of ethical fashion, beauty and lifestyle platform Lårs Labels – explains to fashion editor Harriet Davey the brands who are being transparent, the new way to shop and the use of fruit to create vegan leather.
Stylist’s new The Sustainable Shopper series gives credit to the people inspired by a more sustainable way of living, the brands working on a transparent approach to shopping and the platforms carefully curating an edit of the best ethically-considered labels. This week we’re spotlighting Lårs Labels. Founded by a husband and wife duo – former retail buyer Sophie Larsen and creative director in art and design Chris Jarrett – the fashion, beauty and lifestyle retail site is a hub for a whole host of amazing sustainable brands.
So what’s new about this E-commerce site? Newly launched this summer, Lårs Labels is offering customers a whole new experience. With a finally tuned collection of incredible independent and unique brands under its belt, it’s not just a retail destination, it’s also somewhere to learn about sustainability and the brands which are putting this element at the forefront, without sacrificing style. You’ll get all the same shopping urges, just with reduced guilt.
Here, we talk to Larsen to find out all about the brands she’s backing within the industry, what it really means to be transparent and some simple changes we can all make to live more sustainably.
Sophie Larsen: “As a child I remember reading my encyclopedia on the topic of fossil fuels and renewable energy. It really stuck with me as the subject was so urgent and this was way back in the early 90s. There has been so much harm done and we are now at a tipping point whereby there is no option apart from to be mindful of our choices, with fashion playing a huge role in this. I’ve worked in the fashion industry buying for around ten years and ‘more, faster and bigger’ can only be sustained and managed for so long without compromising our future.
To me, sustainable and ethical fashion means buying only what you need, consuming less and consuming mindfully. It’s about looking at the future and having a responsibility to people and the planet, ensuring that workers are treated fairly in the supply chain, making sure a brand is mindful of its carbon emissions and ensuring that no harm is carried out to animals in the production of the goods.
It’s also about brands being transparent and having traceability in their supply chain from design to delivery.
Chris (co-founder/husband) and I have always been passionate and inspired about sustainable ways of living – we’ve always wanted to incorporate this into our personal and professional lives. Passionate about authenticity and transparency, we wanted to challenge the incredible amount of greenwashing and lack of transparency across the industry. We both wanted sustainable and ethically minded fashion and lifestyle products which also sat within our own personal style and design aesthetic. The more we researched, the more beautiful sustainable brands and products we found and realised there wasn’t a one-stop-shop for them. This led us to develop Lårs Labels.
Each brand and product on Lårs Labels is curated and shares our value of taking a long term approach to design, manufacturing and the consumption of products, whilst also focussing on what is morally right. Lårs Labels champion brands which are fully transparent in all of their processes who create goods which avoid harm to people, animals, and the planet, but also meet our love for beautiful, design-led products, marrying both ethics and aesthetics.
When Chris and I conceptualised Lårs Labels back in 2019, we had no idea (like anyone) that we were going to launch during a global pandemic. This has brought a variety of challenges however at the same time during this period of change this year, there has been a shift towards mindful, more responsible consumption. A lot of people have changed their views recently and want to invest in pieces that do more good for the world, which is what we advocate.
We’ve received a really positive response from customers and the wider fashion community. This period of change has really allowed consumers to assess their basic needs and what’s important to them. We wanted to create a ‘one-stop-shop’ of beautiful, ethically minded pieces where customers know that what they are purchasing. There are websites that have sustainable attribute filters however I think this can also lead to more confusion about what’s sustainable and ethical and what’s not. We do the due diligence of all the products that are featured on Lårs Labels to ensure everything is fully considered across the whole supply chain, which is what makes us different.
We work with brands where sustainability and ethics is at the forefront of their business model. We are consistently on the search for new exciting brands – across clothing, footwear, lifestyle, beauty and kids – which speak to our brand values and core sustainable attributes.
Stella McCartney has always been a visionary for sustainable and ethical fashion and sustainability is at the core of their business model, not an afterthought; they are consistently looking at new, innovative fabrications and ways of working and show that design can be married with ethics.
I would like to see the use of virgin plastic eliminated in fashion including packaging. I would also like to see advancements in product packaging offers including pumps for beauty/skincare items which, at present, can only realistically use plastic and are not able to be recycled.
We do not feature any leather products due to the environmental impact and there have been a lot of advancements in non-leather items, eg bio-fabrication and the use of fruit for fibres (as an example Piñatex made from pineapple leaves). I would love to see how this develops over the coming years so this becomes more accessible and a mainstream alternative to animal leather.
We encourage our customers and visitors to the site to ask us questions about our products and the brands which we feature. Sustainability is all about education. With the volume of greenwashing, you can become disillusioned with what’s actually sustainable and what’s not. We want to be a point of education that allows people to understand that you don’t need to compromise aesthetics with ethics.
If we all made lots of smaller changes, this would be far more beneficial than a few people doing everything right. Firstly, I would encourage people to only buy what you need which affects everything you buy – from clothing or food. Reduce, reuse and recycle. If you are buying something new, take the time to ask questions on how ethical the product is, what fabrics are used, where is it produced, who manufactured it? This takes time and research and this is why we set up Lårs Labels, to allow customers to trust that what we feature is considered.”
The Sustainable Shopper shopping list: the Lårs Labels pick
Asime checked dress
Handmade in Ghana, this belted midi dress is on you can style across all seasons. The buttons are made from coconuts and a percentage of the profits from item sale go to Dream Big Ghana NGO who support local communities. We’re sold.
Sabinna check dress
The square neckline, the ruched waist detail and the universally flattering length makes this dress a real winner. Add to this the fact it’s developed and manufactured in the UK from 100% upcycled wool and it just keeps getting better.
Little by Little bangle
It’s not just clothing on site, there’s also jewels from the likes of Little by Little. The factory these are made in Peru create more jobs for people with no previous experience. Profits from every purchase also go to Luminary Bakery – a small charity in London dedicated to providing more opportunities for women.
Good Guys Don't Wear Leather Chelsea boots
Lårs Labels doesn’t feature any products made from animals so these boots are of course made from vegan leather. The Chelsea boot is the pair you can rely on at all times – try adding them to a silky slip dress and blazer combo.
Sabinna orange midi dress
We haven’t met a midi dress we don’t like and this beauty by Sabinna is no exception. Not only is it made from deadstock recycled material, the sleeves are also detachable so you can switch it up for different events.
La Pirol beanie hat
The classic beanie hat comes back out each winter so why not invest in a good quality style? This navy number is made from 100% organic extra-fine merino wool. It also comes in a bunch of other timeless shades.
Opening image: Veryan
All images: courtesy of Lårs Labels