PANGAIA is not a fashion brand. It's a collective of scientists, technologists and designers striving to disrupt the world of fast fashion one lab-grown fibre at a time. Fittingly, its name comes from "pan", meaning "all-inclusive", and "Gaia", the personification of Mother Earth. Championing form and functionality, its future-proof fabrics are put to use in a kaleidoscope of tracksuits and conscious-cashmere loungewear sets.
Signature hoodies are made from recycled cotton; constructed from saltwater seaweed, self-cleaning T-shirts are infused with odour-reducing peppermint oil; zero-waste trainers have been produced using grape leather repurposed from the Italian wine industry's trash.
Place PANGAIA's packaging in a home compost bin and it will decompose within 24 weeks. No wonder this label is fast becoming the sustainable streetwear of choice.
With a wardrobe full of collaborations - including one with Jaden Smith's JUST Water company and another with art collective We Are Hairy People - the group has more than proven its commitment to partnering with artists, start-ups and charities that share its passion for reversing the climate crisis.
Here, we speak to Chief Brand Officer Maria Srivastava about compostable fabrics, puffer jackets stuffed with wildflowers and why science is the key to disrupting the waste-producing fashion industry.
Tell us about the PANGAIA team.
We function as a global collective of scientists, designers, thinkers and creators from all backgrounds and walks of life. We're building a new model of leadership which champions the team as opposed to the individual. We are united by one vision and dream to design a better future.
You describe PANGAIA as a science company rather than a sustainable fashion brand. Why is that?
Our objective is to demystify science and showcase breakthroughs in an accessible way. One of the reasons why PANGAIA came to be was the realisation that fashion is among the world's most polluting industries. Our idea was to take planet-positive material innovations and bring them to life through everyday products.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
Our most recent is the investment in Kintra Fibers, which makes high-performance, "farm-to-fabric" yarns from a sugar-based resin. Working together, we plan to develop a first-of-its-kind compostable material that will be an alternative to the petroleum-based synthetic fabrics that are used so widely at the moment. It will set a new standard of transparency in the synthetic-material supply chain. We hope this will become a model not just for PANGAIA, but for the industry at large.
One of PANGAIA's goals is to become carbon positive. What steps are you taking to achieve this?
We have set clear goals designed to make a positive impact both in terms of sustainability and philanthropy. These steps - which include work on innovative materials, ocean health and elevating human potential - are at the heart of everything we do. They're ambitious, but they help keep us accountable.
Our FLWRDWNTM technology is a great example of this. It's a new, vegan, cruelty-free and fully biodegradable material made from natural wildflowers - we call it "high-tech naturalism". Our Italian scientists have been developing it for more than ten years. Its arrival presents a future in which a more sustainable fashion industry can make use of existing natural materials, such as agricultural waste, augmented by science and technology.
We also launched the Tomorrow Tree Fund in October 2020 with the aim to plant, protect or restore one million trees around the globe. For every PANGAIA purchase, a portion of the proceeds are donated. So far, we have raised funds for more than 160,000 trees.
What's next for the collective?
We have some big partnerships in the works that we are extremely excited about. Our future plans include creating accessories, jewellery, beauty, furniture and much more.
PANGAIA's Conscious Guide to London
We're big fans of Treehouse's composting and recycling programmes. With its outdoorsy atmosphere and reclaimed-wood interiors, this Marylebone hotel is the best place to bed down.
The menu at West Kensington's 222 Vegan is fully plant-based and takes inspiration from a variety of cuisines. Think pumpkin-noodle salad with coconut, lime and ginger.
The cocktails at Pamela in Dalston are delicious, especially with a vegan snack. Our top pick is the Des Barres, a punchy concoction of fresh kiwi and jalapeno-infused vodka.
Our favourite way to de-stress is at Yoga West in Acton. This community-run studio is based in an old art-deco factory. The friendly vibe and range of classes keep us coming back.