People + Places
In conversation with Roberta Pallet, a UK-based sustainable lingerie designer and our lead designer at Bon+Berg. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with her about her journey into the fashion world, her passion for sustainability and how her background in fashion technology has influenced her design approach. Keep reading to learn more about her inspirations, personal style, and advice from a designer on how to make your wardrobe a little more sustainable.
May 17, 2023
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When I first met Roberta, I knew right away that she was someone special. Her unique designs and passion for sustainability made her the perfect fit for our brand.
Working with Roberta has been an absolute joy. Her creativity and attention to detail have brought a new level of artistry to our underwear collections. I'm constantly amazed by the beautiful designs she creates.
But, what really sets Roberta apart is her commitment to sustainability. She shares our values and goes above and beyond to ensure that her designs are not only beautiful, but also as sustainable as possible.
So, of course, I immediately wanted to know more about the person behind the designs. And fortunately, Roberta was more than happy to sit down with me and share her story.
From an early passion for vintage dresses to a career in lingerie design
When I ask her if she’s always wanted to be a fashion designer, Roberta recalls a trip to a museum with her mother at the age of four. She was instantly enamoured with the Elizabethan dresses and vintage clothing, and thus began her very early foray into the fashion world.
Soon after, she spent much of her free time watching fashion shows on TV, browsing designer websites, and rating new collections as they emerged each season.
Born in Sheffield but raised in Birmingham, Roberta eventually studied fashion design and technology at Manchester Metropolitan University where she learned not only about the visual aspects, but all about the machinery and fibres involved in fashion production.
"I wanted to know a bit more about the ins and outs, rather than just the design side."
Roberta explains: this deeper knowledge helps her to create more sustainable designs. Pieces that are not only fashionable but also durable and long-lasting.
And these technical aspects are also what sparked her interest in lingerie. She found the detail involved in lingerie design fascinating as well as crucial in terms of both support and hygiene.
"Since I had gone down the technology route I just found the detail involved [in lingerie design] really interesting and also really important."
Museums, botanical gardens, and the psychology behind clothes
When it comes to design inspiration, Roberta tells me she often draws from cultural events, exhibitions, and nature. She finds inspiration in the changing colours of the botanical gardens she often visits, and looks to cultural movements like rave culture and hip hop for creative ideas.
She is also inspired by the work of Hussein Chalayan, a British-Cypriot fashion designer, who infuses a fascinating mix of design, science, and art into his collections.
And she tells me she has always been interested in the psychology behind what we wear, believing that clothing is an important form of self-expression.
But perhaps most importantly, Roberta is motivated by her passion for sustainable design. While it can be challenging at times, she believes that the work she's doing is important and meaningful.
As she says, "It's not easy because I'm trying to make a difference and I need to push through."
Defining sustainable fashion: A holistic approach
So, what exactly does sustainable fashion mean? And what does it look like in practice?
According to Roberta, sustainable fashion is about "reducing the impact of the entire process". This means taking into account everything from the materials used to make the clothes to the working conditions of the people who produce them.
Roberta laments the common misconception that sustainability is as simple as using recycled materials. There is much more to it than that she tells me, and I nod in agreement.
Sustainable fashion is about reducing impacts in the entire supply chain, she explains, and making a difference in each step of production, from fair wages to reducing the amount of chemicals used to more sustainable packaging.
"It's about making a difference in each bit, like making sure that you've reviewed each step in the production, not just what it’s made from."
Leopard-print castaways and vintage gems
Roberta herself wears many of her grandmother's old jumpers (sweaters for any of our non-UK/Irish readers!), because they were made to last, she laughs. Back then, she says, people were taught how to look after their clothes.
She describes her own style as subtle punk. “I love a lot of black just because you can just wear it with everything. And I love a bit of leopard print”, she playfully admits.
As a lover of vintage clothing, Roberta emphasises the importance of teaching people how to properly care for their clothes. Her grandmother's wardrobe is a testament to this, she boasts, pointing out how these clothes lasted for over 50 years due to proper care and the quality of the garments.
Roberta encourages people to invest in clothing that they love and know they will wear for years to come.
"Choose your wardrobe carefully. Choose things that you know you will still wear 10 years down the line.”
Roberta hopes that by creating more sustainable fashion, she can help people appreciate and value their clothing, rather than seeing it as something disposable.
As consumers, we can all take steps towards a more sustainable fashion industry by choosing our clothing carefully, reducing waste at home, and supporting designers who prioritise sustainability.
It's up to all of us to work together towards a more sustainable future for fashion.
What does the future of fashion look like?
So, what are some of the challenges facing the fashion industry as it strives to become more sustainable? Roberta believes the biggest hurdle to overcome is overproduction.
However, she is optimistic about the future of the industry and believes it must become more circular. This means not just recycling materials like polyester, but slowly eliminating their use and finding ways to recirculate natural fibres like cotton and bioplastics.
New technologies are emerging that will allow for stronger, more durable and renewable fibres, which is an important step forward in our quest for sustainability. She tells me she is excited about all the possibilities.
But it’s not just designers and manufacturers who need to take steps towards sustainability. Consumers also have a role to play, she adds, starting with small changes at home such as reducing waste and buying reusable products.
Roberta is certainly leading the way in showing that it is possible to create beautiful and sustainable garments that are both ethical and stylish.
Her passion and dedication to sustainable fashion are truly inspiring, and we are thrilled to have her on our team. I can't wait to see what beautiful designs she comes up with next!
Finally, I asked Roberta about her favourite Bon+Berg pieces and what she loves most about the brand.
She says her favourite thing about Bon+Berg is the focus on comfort and celebrating the natural form.
“My favourite bra is the Aurora triangle bra. I love the crossover. I always have an issue with the straps falling off and it really solves the issue. Plus, it's just really comfortable!”
“I also love the Selene hipsters because I quite often forget that they’re even there!”