Billi London, a biodegradable tights brand, was born out of my frustration at and realisation of how damaging binning two pairs of tights a month must be for the environment. Each year, two billion pairs of tights are produced, worn once and discarded. I felt creating a product that would alleviate this was worth fighting for.
While getting this idea off the ground, I am thankful to have an employer that is fully supportive and has allowed me to pursue a project I am so passionate about. Experiential agency XYZ instantly accepted my request to go from five days to a four-day week and, before the lockdown, I was able to use the office in the evening as a working space. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
While tights might not be an obvious force for social change, both I and co-founder Marie Bouhier (content executive at L’Artisan Parfumeur – pictured above, right) believe that our innovative product will offer a real opportunity to move the needle on problems outside this category.
Women robotically dispose of ripped tights, without realising the impact on the environment; it is how it has always been and always will be. That is unless we can change this mindset and women’s rapport with tights from being a disposable afterthought to a sustainable fashion essential.
With many women considering tights to be a single-use garment, we had the realisation that the whole journey needed to be reviewed, since it has not adapted to modern women: from the design, the material and the packaging to how and where women buy and care for tights. Customers engaging with our brand and using our products will feel empowered by the knowledge that their simple decision to opt for our sustainable option is one less item sitting in a landfill for generations.
Our long-term ambition is to create a movement and a "new norm" for the tights sector going far beyond the recycling approach, which we think is only a sticking plaster for social and environmental sustainability.
Marie and I launched Billi London on 15 May on crowdfunding platform Ulule, where people will be able to pre-order the tights.
Sophie Billi-Hardwick (pictured above, left) is marketing and new-business director at XYZ