Our Tuesday morning has been brightened by these bold and beautiful shirts and face masks, just some of the clothing and accessories made by ‘Newt’, a new sustainable clothing company which makes all its products in the UK from recycled plastic bottles. Newt was founded earlier this year by Walthamstow Hall Old Girl Natalie Newton, (pictured above) who left Wally in 2008.
After leaving university, Natalie worked predominantly within online ‘D2C’ (direct to consumer) startups in strategy or innovation roles. Natalie writes, “I’ve always wanted to run my own business and had the idea for Newt ticking away in the back of my mind for a few years but finally decided to start doing something about it last year. I don’t have a design background but I’ve always been a fan of bold, vibrant colours and prints, and I absolutely love a shirt – so I really just set about designing things I wanted to wear. It was an absolute non-negotiable that everything the business does should be done in the most sustainable way possible – not only in the materials used but also in terms of making everything as close to home as possible. Consequently, all our shirts and masks are made in London, the fabric is printed in Worcestershire, and the buttons are made in the Cotswolds.
In terms of materials, I’m focusing on using materials that already exist, thereby recycling and repurposing rather than cultivating or creating new materials. This is always a staggering statistic: every minute 1,000,000 single use plastic bottles are bought around the world. So this year alone, 525 billion single use plastic bottles will be bought, and not even half of those will be recycled – the rest will sit in landfill or go into the oceans. With the amount of plastic bottles that are being bought, not to mention those that are already sitting in landfill around the world, we could clothe the global population hundreds of times over, without ever having to use any other material. This is why I chose fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The fabric scraps that come out of the shirt-making process, are used to make hair scrunchies to minimise waste as much as possible.
In classic timing, I only officially launched the business 4 weeks before the full lockdown – what with Brexit followed by Covid-19, safe to say it’s been an interesting start. I decided to launch our face mask range at the start of May. Initially, I did a free giveaway of masks to keyworkers and wasn’t sure whether to sell them on the site. So many people asked us how they could buy the masks, however, that I decided to launch them properly. Newt then got featured in The Independent, Metro, Woman & Home, GQ and a few other publications and it’s been a bit crazy ever since. So I didn’t set out to launch a face mask brand, and whilst shirts are still the core collection, face masks have helped Newt meet a very specific demand and stay relevant over this very strange time. People do love the cheerful prints, particularly in a time like this.”
We wish Natalie every success in this exciting and innovative new venture.
To see more of Newt’s designs, some of which are modelled by fellow Wally Old Girl Suzie Wright, visit their website below.