We invited Eileen Willett, Co-founder of Cucumber Clothing to tell us about their cool clothing range, the story behind it and why she and her Co-founder are trying to take the best of technology to help women not just look better but feel better.
It’s 2019 and technology seems to have seamlessly inserted itself into every aspect of our lives. From buying a flat to renting a dog, everyone knows: there’s an app for that. When we launched our company, Cucumber Clothing in 2017, our whole USP posed the question – what happens when fashion meets technology? We were intent on using the latest cutting edge fabric technology with all the extraordinary benefits it brings in a brand new way.
Roll back two and half years, when Nancy, my Co-founder, and I had just returned from a holiday with a group of like-minded forty to fifty year old women. We were astonished to find that so many conversations were dominated by the topic of getting too hot, disturbed sleep and the severe knock-on effects these could have on day-to-day lives. When we returned home we did a quick Google to discover that the options for solution-based clothing were minimal. Not only that, they either appeared medical or depressingly geriatric.
We knew from experience that the fabrics used in sports and athletic kit were amazing – they kept you cool and dry, whether trail running or downward dogging in hot yoga, never seemed to crease, washed easily, dried quickly and seemed to repel odours. We got our heads down and did a huge amount of research and testing to find a fabric that not only did all of these things but also felt and looked gorgeous to wear.
We found The One and our first small capsule collection was put together to test the waters. It was very much sleepwear focused with six mix and match pieces. Two days after our launch, the Fashion Director of the Daily Telegraph, Lisa Armstrong wrote a piece about us and our fashion + tech, solutions based brand. Our website went crazy and since then we have had a non-stop incredible response, not only from the press, but most importantly, from women all over the world who were looking for a solution.
We believe this is in no small part due to the fact that consumers have become used to products that are designed well. The deep frustration we feel when there’s a glitch with our email is not dissimilar to the one we feel when we’re rushing around on a hot day and our clothes let us down, whether with fabric wrinkles, sweat patches or just a dank, clammy feeling, except somehow, with clothing, it feels so much more personal. The technology exists, now there is no reason not to wear clothing that not only looks great on, but also keeps you feeling great too.
Since our launch we have been led by our customers. Straight away we received a huge amount of feedback about how great our clothes were for travel/living in a hot climate, for young mums, for curvier women, for women going through medical treatment as well as, of course, for women going through hormonal fluctuations. All the positives of wicking, anti-crease, anti-bacterial (odour), cold wash, hang dry translates brilliantly to the everyday lives of women of any age.
Since the cornerstone of Cucumber Clothing rests on our fabrics, people are often understandably curious about how they work and what they are made of. In an era when sustainability and corporate responsibility is at the fore, this was something we have thought long and hard about. We definitely feel that a significant part of our roles as manufacturers is education. Any company that creates anything uses energy and resources – the only real way to dress sustainably is to not dress at all! Many women also have a predilection or even prejudice towards using only ‘natural’ fibres, particularly cotton. We are here to bust that bias. Our fabrics are made with a large component of polyester. Yes, we acknowledge poly is very much a human made fibre, but as a result of this, we call ourselves ‘slow fashion’. Our clothes last up to six times longer than cotton, they require very little washing (cold washing) and little or no ironing; over the lifetime of a garment the energy used is minimal. Our clothes are created with the idea that they will form part of someone’s wardrobe for years to come, not just for this season. We also need people to understand that some natural fibres, in particular, cotton, are the cause of devastating environmental damage – just google the Aral Sea Basin to see for yourself. We’ve learned there is no one right way to be sustainable, but with every collection we are getting that bit better. (Plastic free since June 2019!)
Our newest fabric incorporates 37.5® Technology which uses 50% plant cellulose made from sustainable beechwood forests and volcanic material (in itself a completely natural product). The best thing of all? It starts to cool you down as soon as your body strays from the ideal core body temperature of 37.5°. Fashion tech!
We wrote at the beginning of this piece that technology has become an integral part of our lives. It’s clear that this can be a force for good as well as bad. With Cucumber Clothing, we’re trying to take the best of tech to help women not just look better, but feel better, we hope you’ll give it a try.