Meet Nina Hopkins, the East London designer who makes sustainability chic
When Nina Hopkins launched her award-winning outerwear brand Jakke in 2015, her goal was to create a cruelty-free brand. Her fun and luxurious faux fur quickly gained an army of fans. But a few years ago, Nina started getting messages from customers asking for something more.
“They were like, ‘It’s great that you save animals, but what about the planet? Your jackets are polyester, ”she says. “I started researching and realized that it could take 300 years for polyester to degrade, so I decided to do my best to make clothes that are less harmful to the environment.”
Nina, 43, was born and raised in Bow, east London, and spent two decades designing for high-end brands before starting Jakke (Danish for jacket). Wearing her Bailey vegan leather coat in bright green, she is a great advertisement for her brand’s ethics: effortless cool and seriously committed to sustainability.
More than half of Jakke’s online collection is now produced from polyester made from recycled plastic bottles – “even the stuffing inside our down jackets” – which requires 59% less energy to produce only virgin polyester. The Rebecca raincoats from the new collection are made from biodegradable thermoplastic, a compostable material derived from trees and plants. Everything from the brand’s dyes to its hangers and packaging is as eco-friendly as it gets, and Nina is constantly striving to do better.
“Technology is constantly advancing in terms of materials and production techniques, which is exciting,” she says. “There is a new faux fur made from recycled polyester blended with plant-based materials including a corn by-product, so we are working to use it in the future.”
Technological innovation has also helped to make the purchasing process for Jakke products more environmentally friendly. The brand uses the Joor digital platform for its orders, which predicts the most popular sizes and styles. “The result is less waste because we don’t order the wrong things,” says Nina. The brand is also available through the Rotaro fashion rental site, which gives customers the urge to wear something new while reducing overall consumption levels.
The rewards of Jakke’s Pivot have been tangible: his coats are now available in department stores including Selfridges and, most importantly, customers love him. “They were the driving force behind the change,” says Nina, who estimates that 70% of customers now come to Jakke because of its green credentials. “Although this increased our initial costs, I am really happy that it was received so well.”
Why is sustainability important?
“I didn’t realize how much fashion contributes to climate change until I did some research – about 10% of all carbon emissions. We all need to do what we can to do less harm.
What are the benefits of going greener?
“Creating well-made, long-lasting clothes – while limiting damage to the environment – means my clients can have them in their closet for years to come and feel good about themselves. It’s also great for business.