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Life’s a beach

Life’s a beach

If you’re planning on heading for some winter sun this Christmas, you may want to pick up some “beach cred” at Rapanui. The brand was launched in 2008 by brothers Rob and Mart Drake-Knight because they wanted “to use the power of fashion to make eco cool, and design traceable, transparent products that let you shop quickly with a conscience.”

The pair grew up in Sandown Bay on the Isle of Wight, where the business is based, and established their brand when they were just 20 and 22 years old respectively. It now employs ten people. The time they’ve spent at the beach near their cliff-top home has clearly influenced their clothing – casual wear with a “surfy edge”.

There’s no doubt it looks cool. But with slogans like “Green is the new black” and “Grand Theft Eco” emblazed across some of the pieces, Rapanui is clearly a brand that goes a step further than just making good-looking clothes, aiming also to make a genuine contribution to sustainability.

Rapanui uses ethically accredited factories that are powered by wind and solar energy. Their products have a unique natural softness and feel when worn, because the company uses cutting edge eco-textiles. In addition to the organic, ethical and low carbon approach to their supply chain, their other contribution to sustainability comes from the traceability of their products – they’ve even got a trace mapping tool so you can find out exactly where the products come from, from the seed being sown, picked, spun and transported (click here for more information).

They are also working with UK MEPs to develop a potentially industry-changing eco labelling system to summarise the detailed and often confusing information on clothes packaging, making it easy for consumers to shop quickly and with a conscience.

So it’s pretty clear that the Drake-Knight brothers and Rapanui are doing good things for the fashion industry. But, on a slightly more superficial note, we at Lawfully Chic just really like their style. It sounds like a pretty funky place to work after all; there’s a skate ramp in the office and a coffee shop out the front. The founders still find time for fishing during lunch breaks and when the waves are up in Sandown Bay, you’ll find them in the water – just to the left of the pier.

This relaxed attitude clearly works for them. Rob and Mart feature on the Future 100 list of Top Young Entrepreneurs, while Rapanui featured on the Top 100 Start-ups list of 2008. The founders have sought no investment and make every effort to encourage other young people to believe in their ability to create successful, sustainable businesses. So, young fashion stars, what are you waiting for?