Neem's founder calls his laidback menswear collection "smart louche". It's a key to understanding Nick Reed's vision for this pioneering sustainable label: just because a Neem shirt, overshirt or pair of socks is kinder to the planet than their mass-produced counterparts, doesn't mean that they have to be entirely serious."I believe," says Reed, "that sustainable living and fun living go hand in hand."
Nick Reed named his new venture after India's Neem tree, renowned for its healing properties. Neem leaves are reputedly a natural antiseptic, for example. In the same way Neem, the fashion label, aims to be an antidote to the all-pervasive fast fashion of today's high street. It may not yet be the cure, but every piece is a step along the way. Designs are timeless, beyond the disposable cycles of conventional fashion, while materials major on the recycled.
Neem uses mostly recycled yarns - that's cotton, wool and polyester - and they've calculated that as a result, the label's signature shirts use 93% less water than the industry average. Fabrics are biodegradable, too. Packaging is plastics free. What's more, the label's innovative Wear Well Bag allows Neem customers to send back any old clothing for recycling. The aim is to create a zero-waste "closed loop menswear system", as Neem puts it.
All of this would be as of nothing without fair employment and sustainable factories. Neem rigorously selects production sites for their commitment to working conditions, sustainability - and their location. Long established manufacturers in Spain, Romania and Italy were chosen for their ethics and for their proximity to Neem's headquarters in Britain. There are no trans-global journeys for any of Neem's pieces.
The result is a new way of looking at menswear coupled with a new look, inspired says Neem, by the relaxed personal style of artists such as David Hockney or Julian Schnabel. If this is the future of our wardrobe, sign us up. The time for smart louche is surely now.
Discover more of the best sustainable menswear brands.
We'll keep you up to date.