Ponch - Ethically And Sustainably Made Rain Ponchos

Location

United Kingdom

Made In

Values

  • Fair Fair
  • Gender Equality Gender Equality
  • Give Back Give Back
  • Transparent Transparent
  • Vegan Vegan

Have you ever looked at a rain poncho and thought to yourself: “that is a beautiful poncho, I want one of them on my back right now.” No, we didn’t think so. We’re not going to lie, we never had that thought either, until we stumbled across a Margate-based company that creates ethical and sustainable rainwear that is extremely pleasing to the eye. Do you know who we are talking about? We’ll give you a clue: they definitely pack a Ponch.  

Born from a love of music, design, and nature, Ponch is providing consumers with funky rainwear that is simultaneously breathable, durable, and stylish. Our favourite feature is the ability to pack it away (hence the clever tagline) when the sun is shining. Simply fold your Ponch back into itself and pop it in your handbag or luggage until the clouds come back—genius! 

The Ponch team thinks “there is often a disconnect between a product and the reality of its production”, and we literally couldn’t agree more. Because of this, the Ponch products are made in a WRAP certified factory organisation that operates in a completely ethical way, and is audited to ensure this. The Ponch team even visited the factory and can confirm that the only things plaguing it are cleanliness, comfortability, and safety.

Even the materials used are helping to eliminate waste. Did you know that, every single year, over 300 million tonnes of virgin plastic is produced? Don’t worry, we vomited in our mouth a little when we heard that stat, too. Both the main fabric and the mesh the Ponch goodies are made from are 100% recycled post-consumer plastic bottles, and the suppliers are certified by the Global Recycle Standard. The materials are also completely PFC free—PFC is the extremely toxic chemical used for water repellency (yuck, right?). 

Even the packaging is next level: there is no trace—none, nada, ZILCH—of single use plastics; the swing tags are compostable; the garment bags and labels are both biodegradable and compostable; and the mailer bags are made from biodegradable paper. Also, the Ponch team are always looking for ways to improve, so if you’ve heard of the best thing since microwavable mug cakes in the eco-packaging department, hit them up! 

To be honest, Ponch is more than just a kickass company mindfully producing products that are so beautiful you’ll be hoping for a rainy day just so you can wear them. Ponch is a forward-thinking business that’s using the production processes to make lasting, positive impacts on our world, a world riddled with overconsumption and excessive waste. So next time you have a festival to attend, a mountain to climb, or a poncho party to make an appearance at, pack a Ponch in your ethically-made backpack.

 

Want to know where Ponch sits and what they’re working on in terms of these 5 values? Hover over these values to find out.

Behind the Brand

“Like many independent labels, we do not own our factory. It took a long time for us to find a production partner who was not only a waterproofing specialist, but also demonstrated a high regard for the wellbeing of their staff. But our search was worth it”.

Sophie Mollison

Ponch

What made you start Ponch?

The idea for Ponch was sparked by inconvenience: I was forced into an ugly poncho at a notoriously soggy music festival, Alexander (my partner and co-founder) was frustrated by bulky outerwear on a camping trip. I decided it was time to invest in a new raincoat. I wanted it to have a classic, flattering cut and a bold print, made ethically from recycled materials. Bonus points if it could be compactly packed into itself (an essential for camping). I was surprised by how difficult it was to find this hypothetical raincoat. I have worked in the fashion industry as a graphic and textile designer, so I can be quite particular about prints. The raincoats I came across had twee – or ridiculously naff — prints, and the fabric felt like I was wearing a plastic bag. Experience within the industry has made me acutely aware of — and concerned with — high levels of production waste, and unethical practices within the supply chain. Of the brands I looked at, there was no transparency or commitment to responsible manufacturing.

Do you have a morning routine? If so what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?

I am not a morning person, but Alexander is; he springs out of bed, while I need to be coaxed. We live in a seaside town called Margate, and are lucky to be able to go for a walk along the coast each morning. When combined with a couple of coffees, it’s a guaranteed way to wake-up properly (especially in winter).

I set aside some time to read each morning: the latest from The Business of Fashion, Courier Magazine, and my favourite newsletters – Dense DiscoveryOMG Lord, and Reconsidered. This is interspersed with staring out the window. Some doodling. A solid bit of pondering. (About what? God knows.) My laidback morning routine puts me in a good headspace for the early afternoon, when I am at my most energetic and productive.

What’s the biggest barrier you’ve found to succeeding as a socially conscious business?

When running any business, your day is spent making endless decisions. Many businesses will take the easiest, fastest or cheapest path. This is especially true within the fashion industry, which demands newness and immediacy.

There is greater time and consideration involved when making responsible decisions — I’m sure you’ve experienced this when shopping for sustainable clothing. Reading the compass of what is “right” and “wrong” can be difficult when navigating through a grey area.

To truly be a socially conscious business, your actions should be the fairest, most responsible, and do the least amount of damage to people and planet. This is often to the detriment of your own commercial success. But we wouldn’t feel right doing business any other way.

Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Ponch, who made the things you sell? Can you tell us a bit about them?

Like many independent labels, we do not own our factory. It took a long time for us to find a production partner who was not only a waterproofing specialist, but also demonstrated a high regard for the wellbeing of their staff. But our search was worth it.

Within the ethical fashion community, there’s a big question that we ask which is ‘who made my clothes?’. In the scope of Ponch, who made the things you sell? Can you tell us a bit about them?Like many independent labels, we do not own our factory. It took a long time for us to find a production partner who was not only a waterproofing specialist, but also demonstrated a high regard for the wellbeing of their staff. But our search was worth it. We are proud to work with a production partner who has a WRAP-certification. WRAP is a third-party auditor that ensures manufacturing facilities operate in a safe, responsible and ethical way. Each certified facility has undergone a thorough inspection and achieved WRAP’s 12 Principles (including safe working conditions, the right to unionise, health and safety measures, and the prohibition of forced or child labour). We have also personally visited — and worked from — our production partner’s facilities in Xiamen, China.

Why did you pick the fabrics you have chosen to work with?

Our fabrics are made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles (otherwise known as recycled polyethylene terephthalate, or rPET). By using fabric made from recycled plastic, we give new purpose to a material that is not biodegradable and otherwise destined for landfill. Our fabric suppliers are certified by the Global Recycle Standard (GRS), an internationally respected standard which verifies the recycled content of our fabric. To fulfil the requirements of the GRS certification, our fabric suppliers must also meet responsible social, environmental and chemical practices in their production.

We also chose this fabric for its functional capabilities — there’s no point having a raincoat that doesn’t keep you dry! Our fabric has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm and breathability rating of 10,000g. Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are often applied to fabrics for water repellency, despite being environmentally hazardous and toxic to both humans and animals. Our fabric is PFC-free: our durable water repellent (DWR) coating has a PFC rating of C0.

There are zero single-use plastics used in our packaging.

Best piece of advice you have ever received?

“Do one thing, and do it damn well.”

What’s next for you and Ponch?

We are always looking for new ways to be a more innovative, ethical and sustainable business.

I genuinely enjoy researching recycling processes, advances in technical outerwear, environmental action, and how modern business can better support workers. (I promise that I’m fun at parties.) In the upcoming months, we’ll be sharing these discoveries on our new blog.

It’s a tough time for many small businesses navigating the challenges presented by COVID-19. We are excited to be developing the prototypes for our next collection, but — with consideration to the future of Ponch, and the safety of our production partners — we are being very cautious about timing.

Until then, nothing is better than receiving a photo from a customer proudly wearing their Ponch — and I look forward to getting more in the future!

One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?

A beautiful fable by Jean Giono called “The Man Who Planted Trees”. It taught me that through individual action we can transform landscapes, rejuvenate communities, and alleviate the heaviness of our own hearts.

Are there any other Movers & Shakers out there in your world that you think people should know about?

Natural skincare brand — and our Margate neighbours — Haeckels. They are committed to the conservation of the English coastline, and truly “walk the walk”. Their low impact design philosophy inspired our own compostable packaging. Everyday Plastic — another Margate local — creates interactive projects which help participants recognise their consumption habits, and rouses them to join the fight plastic pollution. I also really enjoy Whitney Bauck’s writing, which is comprehensive yet clear.

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