Brands We Love: Neem London

June 20, 2022


At Alectro, we’re constantly on the lookout for sustainable alternatives to everyday items. This is an opportunity to share the brands that we love and that are making the world a greener place to live.

We caught up with Nick Reed, Founder of Neem London, to discuss their mission to bring a sustainable style to modern life.

At the turn of the century, low-cost fashion burst into our lives. Online shopping took off, and familiar high-street retailers like H&M, Zara, and Topshop became the dominant faces of everyday fashion. These brands were able to design and release new styles each season, recreating work of the top fashion houses, but delivering designs faster and cheaper. Shoppers flocked to these stores, and when online shopping became more popular, it increased the pace of adoption further.

Then, in 2013, the Collapse of Rana Plaza killed 1,134 people. Suddenly, the reason that these garments could be produced so quickly and cheaply was put in the spotlight, and fast fashion started to be questioned.

Despite this tragic incident, fast-fashion is still prominent and harmful beyond the unethical treatment of workers in developing countries. Fast fashion is polluting our planet, harming animals, and creating a culture that’s damaging to the planet.

Environmentally, fast fashion uses toxic textile dyes that end up polluting water supplies and harming people in the process. In addition, cheap materials like polyester are derived from fossil-fuels. There is also the issue of unsold stock which can end up being burned, or in landfill.

For a much deeper dive into the story of clothing, I recommend watching The True Cost documentary which explores these issues in much more detail. The True Cost documentary which explores these issues in much more detail.

Due to all of these issues in fashion, it’s crucial that we, as consumers, are given alternative choices on which clothes to buy. That’s where brands like Neem come in.

Neem understands that our planet is in danger and the fashion industry has to change and so their mantra to be “Obsessively sustainable. Forever stylish.” is a perfect combo for a modern wardrobe.

Here’s Nick, answering our questions:

Why does Neem exist?

“At Neem we know the harm that fast-fashion is having on the planet and so we wanted to change that. Neem is so called after the Neem tree in India - Neem is a natural herb that has healing properties and is used as a natural antiseptic, and so it was an organic link to founding the company as an ‘antiseptic’ for fast fashion.

I believe that sustainable living and fun living go hand in hand. I don’t believe you have to sacrifice style to live ethically, but it can be hard for individuals to realise what they can do to improve.

Typically, a statistic like “the average UK adult emits 13 tCO2e per year” doesn’t really mean much. People realise that they have to reduce their consumption and impact, but will tend to rely on some virtue purchasing in their personal life, and wait for the government to do the rest!

At Neem, we want transparency to exist so that a customer knows that by purchasing from a company like us, they’re actually reducing their carbon impact by a tangible quantity.

In an ideal world, if we can help an individual see a pathway from 13 tCO2e to, say, 8 tCO2e, by making it simpler to make smart decisions, then that would be a good result!

The Neem shirt - you can read more about it here
What does Neem do best?

“We want Neem to centre around three key attributes:

We want to create the lowest emitting shirt in the world

We partner with a third-part to conduct a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) on our shirts, to ensure we know what the impact is of every stage of its creation. We do this by measuring the energy, waste, and water-use to create it and then find out the impact in kgCO2e so we can compare it against other metrics like a number of plastic bags avoided, or bananas eaten.

Making sure we focus on reductions, we also use recycled and natural materials that use less energy - this results in our shirt using 40% less energy and producing 40% less CO2e impact than a standard shirt.

By only using recycled and organic cotton, our shirt uses 93% less water than standard shirts and limits water pollution with non-toxic, biodegradable dyes.

This will continue to drop as more of our supply chain uses electric transportation, and we can increase the recycled content in our shirts.

By making use of offsets in tandem with these reductions, we have an end-to-end production system that’s 100% carbon neutral.

We are committed to Zero Waste, or as little waste as possible!

We have a number of initiatives running to support this:

  • All of our products can be returned for recycling and you can also send us your unwanted, 100% cotton items and we’ll recycle them into new shirts (we’ll also give you money off your next purchase with Neem!).
  • We have smart build techniques using 3D designs that allow us to produce new garments without sampling at all. This compares with other businesses that see as many as five or six samples per garment.
  • Finally, we have a supply chain that brings transparency through embedded QR codes to all our items so you can track and trace your items through their lifecycle.
We want to create a style suitable for a hybrid post-pandemic world.

The world has changed so much in the past few years, and styles have changes with them. The Neem style is one that lets you turn up to a meeting, relax at home, or pop out in. We call it power casual, - it simply means a style that lifts you out of casual into a modern work wardrobe.

We want you to look smart and elegant, but stay comfortable.

To protect the environment from waste, Neem makes new shirts from your old ones
What are the trends in the market space?

“Honestly, I think any business that isn’t built with sustainability at its core needs to change. By sustainability I mean cutting out unnecessary emissions, and I really don’t think any large fashion companies can do that half-heartedly.

They have huge legacy challenges like the energy of their factories, the distribution networks, and material suppliers. They can only make these changes if they’re commercially viable, and ultimately aggressive decisions are hard.

Most organizations are balancing climate commitments with commercial events like Black Friday and Christmas. Unfortunately, the two of these are incompatible.

Some companies are claiming to be carbon neutral, but after digging into that, it’s Scope 1 and 2 only, which is usually less than 5% of their total impact as Scope 3 emissions can account for up to 95% of total emissions.

This might change if customers start to demand more, or other brands overtake them, but it’ll be very difficult across all companies in the industry.“

Fast fashion brands have been accused of greenwashing by climate protesters.
What new initiatives are on the horizon?

“As a company, we’re still growing so we have lots on the horizon:

We’re expanding the range that we offer, so keep an eye on that. We’re also running a detailed LCA on the merino wool that we use, and exploring regenerative farming, as we seek to learn more about the materials and processes of our products so we can reduce our impact further.

We also have a pop-up in Wolf & Badger in Coal Drops Yard coming in September, and another on Jermyn Street later on this year, so definitely pop in to say hi to us there!

Thanks so much to Nick for chatting to us, and keep an eye on their socials @neem_londoner and website for updates!

If you're interested in finding out more, then reach out to Pact or find more information on the website.

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