Is green the new black?


Fast fashion is everywhere.

Gone are the days where spending time mending our pre-existing garments was a necessity. Now it’s just as convenient to head down to the high street to pick up a new item of clothing (or two) in less time and at a small expense.

But the reality of the impact fast fashion has on the environment is causing more and more of a concern to environmentalists and consumers.

Inspired by collections from catwalk trends and celebrity influencers, low cost items made from cheap materials and toxic chemicals are being spread across stores in short turnarounds, cutting important environmental corners when it comes to the design to shop-floor process.

Water pollution, toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste are just a few causes for concern.

But we are seeing some change.

Fighting for more transparency within the fashion industry are the likes of Fashion Revolutions #WhoMadeMyClothes campaign, who challenges the way our clothes are sourced, produced and consumed, so that our clothing is made in a safe, clean and fair way – and worldwide change-making charity Green Peace’s ‘Detox Our Future’, challenging some of the world’s most popular clothing brands to eliminate all releases of hazardous chemicals.

And here at Leap we are no strangers to fashion design, only recently have we sustainably designed our very own everyday superheroing tees available to purchase on our Etsy store. Each tee is Earth Positive branded, which means when wearing your Leap tee, have peace of mind that you’re wearing a t-shirt made out of 100% organic cotton, with a positive social, and a minimum environmental footprint.

Blue t-shirt with green outlined lightning bolt next to black giving a shit since 2004 t-shirt, next to black t-shirt with white outlined lightning boltWith a passion for creating and designing in a sustainable, ethical manner – we were excited to recently welcome for the 6thyear in a row, students from a local school into the studio to work on creating their own ethical fashion brand.

We are always lucky to have such a high demand of pupils wanting to join the Leap team for their work experience, and this year two talented year 10 students from Penrice Academy were selected after demonstrating a natural creative flair and thorough research into Leap’s ethos.

Like every year, we set the project up so students start their experience by researching ethical clothing brands and how clothing can be made with a difference (socially, environmentally and commercially). Then with the assistance of the team – and of course through independent work – the students start designing their own brand which includes a logo and digital profile of what the brand represents, how it offers change and what makes it a sustainable. Once all design work had been completed, the students are educated around the print process of getting design to t-shirt, and then gifted with a earth positive t-shirt with their finalised design printed on them.

As expected we found it was another successful work experience with two bright creative’s who show promise and potential as budding designers and future change-makers.

But don’t just take our word for it, here’s what Niamh and Caleb from Penrice Academy had to say:

Niamh’s words on her week at the Leap studio…

melting polar bear design featuring orange sun behind itPictured above: Niamh’s global warming inspired logo (left) Caleb modelling Niamh’s finished printed sustainable t-shirt (right)


Being able to work alongside the whole team at Leap has been both inspiring and intriguing, watching their creative ideas turn to reality. I have learnt since being here that each project they take on is individual and precisely thought through. It’s refreshing to see the passion the team has for the environment and how they make sure that everything they create also gives back to the local economy, communities and natural environment.

The task I was given to complete during my time at Leap was to create an ethical clothing brand with a final product of a t-shirt.

At the beginning of my work experience at the St. Austell studio, I began by researching existing ethical clothing brands and brainstorming my own ideas for a logo. I created a mind map including colours, shapes and composition.  By day two I had already completed a few sketches of my design ideas and I went on to develop these ideas as the week progressed.

On the Wednesday I had the opportunity to produce a digital brand profile, where I created a name and background behind my logo, explaining my ideas and how they developed, leading to the final product and the reality of its impact on our environment.

In the course of my time at Leap,  I had the opportunity to work on Photoshop and Illustrator to create my final design, which I was excited about considering my lack of skills on both programmes.  By Thursday my logo was complete and sent off along with my chosen Earth Positive t-shirt to be printed and made into my final product.

Individually, I feel as if I have learnt a great deal from this experience, but what I want to take away with me is that even though the issues being faced are on such a global scale, as individuals we can do little things that make the world of difference. For example shopping from ethical and eco-friendly brands that give back to our environment.  As a society we must become conscious consumers, fashion and clothing alone is one of the biggest contributors to environmental damage. Massive amounts of energy, water and other resources are needed to make clothes, generating on average 23kg of greenhouse gases.  Therefore personally, I feel inspired to begin buying from ethical clothing brands and making a difference to our planet.

Caleb’s words on his week at the Leap studio…

Pictured above: Calub’s deforestation inspired logo (left) Niamh modelling Calub’s finished printed sustainable t-shirt (right)


I have really enjoyed my time here at leap, mainly because of how fun it was and what I got out of it. I loved the way that we were given our own project to do. This allowed us to use are own ideas and create what we wanted. This was good because I thought that I would be getting drinks and food for people, I also thought that I’d be getting in the way of other people and that I was and inconvenience to the team. What we did was completely the opposite. We were shown around and we spoke to the team and found out about there roles here at Leap, we didn’t get in their way at all. What we did here at Leap was the opposite of what I thought I would do, this was a good thing because it way better than I ever imagined.

During my time here we created a logo to do with being eco-friendly and helping the environment. My brand/logo was called Urban Elephant. This was because the idea was that because of deforestation and habitat loss elephants and other wild animals have to migrate to towns and cities until it becomes an urban jungle. This was why my logo was called urban elephant. The logo is an elephant head floating over a city.

On our first day here at Leap we were both nervous as we had no idea what to expect, but as soon as we got in there the nerves went and we were fine. We were given a health and safety briefing and where to go in case of a fire. We watched the film called ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. This was about how the world is affected by global warming and how humans are destroying the world.  

On the second day we began to create a profile about our t-shirt designs. This included the direction in which my design is going, the target audience and the materials used in the creation of the t-shirt. Also we wrote about what caused us to create the logo, I created my logo of the elephant in the city because I remember watching a documentary in geography about deforestation. 

On day three we finished our logos on the computer and then designed a digital brand profile. This included the same things as the other profile but in more detail. After we found out more about the staff and the team that work here at Leap. This was interesting as I gave us an incite on what its like to work here. Once we spoke to all the staff members I created a website all about my brand  This allowed me to write about my brand and create different items of clothing with my logo on it to be sold on the website e.g. skateboards and hats.

On day four I carried on with my website, making it better and more interesting. I did this by adding in more products and making the website look cleaner. After this at around lunch we took our finished logos and our recently purchased eco t-shirts to a local printing company where our designed were printed on the t-shirt. 

On the last day we got back our T-Shirts, they looked really cool. Once we got them back we did a photo shoot to display them.

Overall I really enjoyed my week here at Leap. I would really consider design as future career and will probably go on to study it at college and university.


Big Leap love to Niamh & Caleb, and well done on creating two sustainable change-making brands.

Want to rock your own eco-friendly garment? Don’t forget to check out our Leap Etsy page where you can buy a selection of sustainable t-shirts and other products.


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Imogen Coleman

Author Imogen Coleman

More posts by Imogen Coleman

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