Sustainable fashion designer Laura Pitharas who uses Yorkshire wool and mills to weave her clothes tipped by Elle magazine

A Leeds-born fashion designer’s brand has been named as one of the top sustainable fashion brands in the world.

Laura Pitharas’s self-titled brand – only launched this year – was named by Elle magazine as “one to watch” in a list of world-wide fashion labels producing environmentally conscious products.

Ms Pitharas, who produces luxury womenswear which is designed and manufactured in London and produced from wool woven in Yorkshire, said she wanted to produce woollen suits that did away with the need for women to ‘power dress’, either in the workplace or socially.

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Laura Pitharas

“I had the same search for my wedding suit so I decided to design one myself.”

Driven by a desire to bring femininity to suits which are traditionally perceived through menswear silhouettes she decided to create a brand that made menswear for womenswear.

Her clothes are woven at Alfred Brown in Bramley in Leeds and a mill in Huddersfield called Dugdale.

Ms Pitharas has resourced all her tailoring wool fabrics directly and said she has set out to create lasting relationships with all her suppliers and manufactures.

Materials at Alfred Brown.

She said it is her mission to create “transparency and sustainability” at the forefront of all the garments.

Her clothes use organic thread for the lining, organic cotton poplin, organic bamboo silks and all of the wool used in their tailoring is made from non-mulesed sheep wool.

Everything is made in the UK, reducing air miles to zero and creating a far smaller carbon footprint than most womenswear.

“I had to have something that spoke to my roots and upbringing,” she told The Yorkshire Post.

Laura Pitharas with her Leeds-based mill owner.

“Everyone outsources to China, there are not many places doing this kind of thing in Europe. I work with super small lines, another angle of sustainability. It is very limited, only 12 pieces per size.

“The suits are probably best suited to people who are 30 and upward. I wanted to celebrate all body shapes.

“My plan is to branch out into wedding suits next season as part of the spring/summer collection, offering women another option than a dress.”

Born in Leeds, Ms Pitharas studied menswear tailoring at the London College of Fashion before moving into the industry. While studying she interned under the likes of Giles Deacon and Lou Dalton.

Made in England

She moved to Paris to work as a design assistant for menswear brand Tillmann Lauterbach before being recruited by the head of womenswear by French designer Delphine Ninous to work at Belstaff.

Ms Pitharas said: “I have dreamed of being a fashion designer since I was 13.

“I guess I always wanted to have my own company but wanted to get some industry experience first.

“That taught me so much more than just design. I could not have done this without that experience.

“It really taught me how to do the job that I do today.”

Ms Pitharas is initially working on a direct to consumer basis and she says she has no current plans to work with a wholesaler.

The wool weaving process.

Alfred Brown, the mill she is using, remains a globally revered Yorkshire cloth manufacturer.

It weaves 1.2 million metres a year, supplying Celine, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen and Savile Row, as well as having worked with Prince Charles on his Campaign for Wool initiative.

It was initially founded as Brown & Sons by Leeds retailer Herbert Brown as a manufacturer of uniform fabrics for the military in 1915.

Mr Brown, who also served as a Liberal politician and deputy lord mayor, would later hand over the business in 1954 to his son, who changed the name to its current form.

Third generation family members Alfred, David and Peter grew the company and in the 1970s, its biggest customer was Montague Burton, which at one time had the largest clothing factory in the world, producing over 30,000 suits a week.

His younger sons, Ian and Nigel, joined in 1986 and Joanne, his youngest daughter, joined on the sales side in the 1990s.

In 2000, Warner Bros asked Alfred Brown to weave the black fabric for the Hogwarts cloaks in all the Harry Potter films, and the firm also supplied the fabric for the Next Team GB suits for the 2012 London Olympics and for the M&S suits worn by the England football squad for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil.

Sustainable fashion, sometimes referred to as eco-fashion, is a movement to ensure that the industry operates on a more ethical, environmental and social model.

Aiming to address the entire manner in which clothing is produced, it favours using locally produced and biodegradable materials that have a long shelf life.

It seeks to combat the huge carbon footprint that the industry has created thanks to so-called ‘fast fashion’ in which clothes are produced at large scale and shipped for long distances around the world, only to remain trendy for a very short period of time before being discarded.

It celebrated its centenary year in 2015.