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Ally Bee alpaca yarns in natural colours

ALLY BEE KNITWEAR

Fashion brands hold a responsibility to ensure the stakeholders in the production chain – from the farmers, the spinners and makers – get a fair deal for what they do. This includes environmental stewardship, without a doubt. Ally Bee takes this responsibility seriously and does not compromise on this value."

~ Alison Baker, Founder, Ally Bee Knitwear

 

ALLY BEE is a contemporary luxury knitwear brand working exclusively with sustainably sourced natural fibre yarns. The brand launched in London in 2014 with a small knitwear collection using bespoke-spun British alpaca and wool. In Autumn 2017, Ally Bee expanded its yarn source to include ‘Fairwool’ – the world’s first Cradle-to-Cradle ® cashmere merino yarn.  Ally Bee works closely with Scottish & English knitwear manufacturers, and in Autumn 2017 launched a small number of statement hand-knit designs produced by an artisan women’s knitting hub in India. 

 

 

ORIGINS

 

British alpacas graze on lush pasture


Ally Bee launched in 2014 with a small collection crafted from commission spun British Alpaca yarns and a select variety of British wool. Small alpaca yarn batches have been produced each season for the Ally Bee collection, and reflect the subtle seasonal variations in yarns from one year to the next. British Alpaca is produced through low impact farming on smallholdings across the UK.

 

Ally Bee Poncho Jumpers in sustainable yarns

 


For Autumn Winter 2017, Ally Bee introduced ‘Fairwool’ to the collection – the world’s first Cradle to Cradle ® certified cashmere merino yarn. This Italian spun cashmere merino yarn has been meticulously scrutinised from the raw source of the fibre – from land management and fair payment to Mongolian herders who graze the cashmere goats – through to cleanest, greenest processing of the raw fibre into a fine knitwear yarn. Cradle to Cradle ® Poncho Jumpers and accessories are now available at ally-bee.com.

 


SUSTAINABLE LUXURY KNITWEAR


Ally Bee began with a vision to provide a sustainable luxury alternative to mass production knitwear for consumers wishing to make an informed & critical choice about new additions to their wardrobe. Design of each collection starts with a consideration of the raw natural fibres, and the processing of those fibres into yarn, and then creating knitwear designs that work in harmony with those materials. Ally Bee collections are free from acrylics, plastic sequins, transient ‘must-have’ colours or gimmicky trends of the season. The result is beautifully made, natural fibre knitwear collections produced through responsible & fair production, and a gentler touch on the planet.


SUSTAINABILITY AS A DESIGN PHILOSOPHY


We all have a different line in the sand as to what we consider to be ‘sustainable’ fashion. At Ally Bee sustainability means producing collections to a set of environmental standards that far exceed mere compliance with current local and international environmental regulation. It means a ‘cradle to cradle’ commitment to fashion making – seeking out natural fibre cashmere, alpaca and wool yarns produced to high standards of land management and animal welfare, the cleanest achievable processing and dying, and end-of-life biodegradability. It means making a product of treasured keepsake quality, intended to live well beyond one season. It means minimising packaging, plastic usage and office waste and continually seeking out the most innovative ‘beyond compliance’ yarns.
 
 

ETHICAL PRODUCTION

 Ally Bee visits artisan hand knitting studio in India

Ethical & sustainable values are at the core of Ally Bee. Garments are produced with fair reward to the makers and special attention is given to the sourcing of environmentally sustainable materials. All machine-knitted pieces in the Ally Bee collection are designed in London and made in limited volumes in small factories in Scotland and England.

The small line of hand-knitted garments in the 2017 collection are made by a fairly managed knitting team based in Tamil Nadu India. Fair labour standards were essential when sourcing production for this new strand in the Ally Bee story.

       " Employing the services of knitters in a B Corporation certified studio in Tamil Nadu gave me the assurances in these standards. And when I visited the facility this year I saw what a difference this employment opportunity means for the women trained and invested in this venture. Knitting for this company means not only fair pay and a safe working environment,   but also new opportunities for illiterate and semi-literate women in these local Tamil communities, and their kids.
~ Alison Baker, Founder, Ally Bee Knitwear.

DESIGN-LED HAND KNITS

Ally Bee hand-knits have been designed exclusively for the Ally Bee collection by freelance New York-based knitwear designer, Laura Zukaite. The design process began in February 2017, with mood boards and design brief, and in August Laura and Alison travelled to India to visit the knitters and oversee first stages of production of the collection.

 

 

 

Each woman apprenticed to the knitting hub is given 7 months paid training and mentoring. When her knitting is perfected and flawless she is assigned to a design and takes ownership of the making. Illiteracy is common in this region of India, so most women receive a basic education in reading, and maths for the first time in their life, while also learning the skill of knitting. The training and employment offered through this project is supportive, nurturing and stimulating in a safe environment. As a norm, work is 6 hours per day in a well-lit, spacious and clean studio. As a B Corp registered organisation, worker’s rights are are held in the highest regard in this knitwear studio.

 

GENTLE THREADS - ALPACA & Cradle-to-Cradle ® ‘FAIRWOOL’
There is a growing chorus of people calling for the fashion industry to be cleaner, and fairer and to clarify where their clothes come from. Ally Bee takes this call to action very seriously. Ally Bee works with premium yarns where the origin and processing of the natural raw materials can be traced and have low environmental impact. The brand works with alpaca and wool fibre locally sourced in the UK, and yarns certified to be from a responsible, low impact sustainable source, such as Cradle-to-Cradle ® certified cashmere merino.
‘FAIRWOOL’ - the world's most sustainable cashmere & merino ‘Fairwool’ is the only Cradle to Cradle certified ethical & environmentally sustainable luxury cashmere merino yarn in the world. The Cradle to Cradle Institute demands high standards in all of its certifications to protect the earth, ensure social fairness & advance animal welfare. The cashmere in Fairwool comes from Zalaa Jinst white goats in specific herds in the Gobi Desert where herders are paid more than the norm, over 250000 goats receive vet treatment and are grazed on lands maintained with sustainable grazing methods.
The superfine merino wool in Fairwool is sourced from a mulesing-free farm in south-eastern Australia recognised in the industry as a sustainable farm. Fairwool is processed at a long-established mill in Italy using hydroelectric & solar power and the cleanest dyeing processes in the industry. The result is a wholly natural, sustainable, ethical luxury yarn, that at the end of life will return to the cradle of earth without leaving a trace.