Pangaia is probably the most inspiring sustainable fashion brand of the moment. It doesn't rely on trends or seasons, is vegan, organic, biodegradable, and scientifically manufactured to work as close as possible to Mother Nature's resources. It's also taken social media over by storm, counting Bella Hadid, Justin Bieber, Jaden Smith, Kourtney Kardashian, and various fashion tastemakers as fans.
The brand has been so popular, that each launch and restock gets snapped up pretty quickly (most recently, their botanical tracksuits sold out in 15 minutes alone). If anything, it is the demonstration that the world of fashion has just simply been waiting to finally find green cool.
Ahead, we speak to Maria Srivastava, Chief Marketing Officer, and Amanda J. Parkes, Chief Innovation Officer of Pangaia about their label and their mission.
Where does the name “Pangaia” come from?
Maria Srivastava & Amanda J. Parkes: The name “Pangaea” is derived from Ancient Greek pan (all, entire, whole”) and Gaia (Mother Earth, land”). Pangaea was the last supercontinent to have existed and fell apart 175 million years ago into Laurasia and Gondwana. We used this name to insist on this strong relation to nature and Mother Earth, and it translates to everything in our brand, from the colours to the materials we use.
Who is behind Pangaia?
Pangaia is above all a large collective made up of scientists, engineers, artists, designers, thinkers. Miroslava Duma (founder of Future Tech Lab, an incubator specializing in responsible technological innovations) is indeed a member of this collective. Pharrell Williams is an avid supporter of the brand, he is happy to help us.
Where are you based?
We share our head office between London and New York. All of our production, marketing and operations is in London, while research, development and partnerships is in New York. There are currently about twenty of us, not counting our external collaborators, but the company is growing very quickly.
Can you summarize the DNA of your brand?
Through the creation of Pangaia, our primary objective was to find a way to present all of the innovations and technologies we were working on in the most digestible and understandable way to the general public and the fashion industry, so that everyone can understand them.
We started by working around the T-shirt - the most basic of fashion products. We re-imagined it in seaweed fiber (our seaweed is harvested in Iceland and is collected only once every four years) and in organic cotton, at 20% and 80% respectively, but we are currently working on reversing the equation. All of our materials are treated with mint oil, to reduce the frequency of washing, and therefore water pollution. This is not forgetting our vibrant colours, which we only use with vegetable dyes.
When did you launch the brand?
At the end of 2018, during a preview launch at the ComplexCon in Long Beach. Everything happened very quickly afterwards. However, we try to keep to our “slow brand” spirit even if it is difficult, as laboratory research is progressing quickly in the field today.
How long did you work on Pangaia before launching?
We spent about ten years in terms of research and development. But our first scientific partnerships date back to four years.
Is biotech research still as demanding and expensive?
Yes, essentially, because it requires a fairly sustained economy of scale. It is a question of funding of course, but also a question of time. It does not matter if you have the amount of investment behind you, but have neither the time nor the people to carry out research, tests and developments. It still takes a while before the product goes to market, but we are currently working to reduce it.
Pangaia technologies are registered, but are they also shared in open source?
We cannot really speak here for open source, since we do not make them available free of charge. But one of our fundamental values is to allow the world to benefit from these technological innovations, and are not looking for exclusivity.
Will Pangaia's “All About Nature” mission, which consists in recycling the many natural materials of the planet, be the next step after the use of recycled plastic?
If it's not a replacement, it is in any case a promising alternative solution. Our technology, which we call “High-tech Naturalism”, goes broader than biotech. It consists in using the resources of our natural environment, such as its waste, its agriculture, and couple that with highly technological solutions which will make them even better. The best example is the down jacket made of flower petals and high-tech, bioploymer material. It is in this direction we follow.
Why did you choose to launch Pangaia as digital native brand (DTC), to be sold exclusively online?
DTC sales were important for the launch of the brand, but we are now experimenting with physical sales, pop-up stores in concept stores. It is important for our customers to also be able to touch our products.
Does a Pangaia garment last over time? Can we imagine buying it second-hand in ten years?
Absolutely, and we thought about it right away. From the launch of the brand, we announced a partnership with the American company The Renewal Workshop which recycles, upcycles and repairs old clothes before reselling them. We already had this idea in mind to give them a second life one day. Just because our down jacket is decorated with flower petals, doesn't mean it will self-destruct in your wardrobe!
Explain the Pangaia logo
It is made of dots, round like our planet, and multicolored, summing up the colors that we find in nature. But there is also another sign in all our creations: a signature phrase specifying the materials and technologies used for manufacturing. It is an essential element of our identity.
Is Pangaia finally proof that we can combine good design with responsible fashion?
This is precisely where we wanted to come from at the very start. We see this alliance as a promising opportunity, to prove to everyone that you can be cool, stylish and responsible at the same time. It's anything but boring. High technology and haute couture are not far apart in terms of requirements and know-how.
The brand's pitch is ambitious: “making waves in the world of responsible fashion”, “stretching the limits of creation for a better future” ... How do you remain so optimistic in this day and age?
Because we believe in it. We believe in our solutions, we have them in front of us in the laboratory, and new ones are born every day...we live with them!