Explorers of sustainability: a beacon of thrifty fashion

Explorers of sustainability: a beacon of thrifty fashion

Alison Orr’s obsession is sustainable fashion, breathing new life into used clothes. In line with this philosophy, she and her family harness the power of a reliable assistant, a second-generation Škoda Fabia Combi.

2. 10. 2023 Škoda World

In the picturesque British town of Masham in the Yorkshire Dales, Alison Orr pioneered the sustainable fashion movement long before it became trendy. She was already a seasoned expert in the discipline of second-hand shopping when she discovered a treasure trove: discarded pieces of 100% cashmere destined for landfill. Seizing this opportunity, she founded Nearly New Cashmere, and set about rescuing and restoring clothing made from this luxurious material. To date, she has rescued and breathed new life into tens of thousands of cashmere garments from around the world.

Alison’s motivation stems from a deep-rooted aversion to waste. When she discovered that even a durable, high-quality material like cashmere could be written off and go to waste, it came as a shock. Her passion for fashion and sustainability thus started her on a fascinating entrepreneurial journey.

Alison Orr’s shop in the British town of Masham

As a full-time mother, she started her business at home, selling reclaimed cashmere online. As demand grew, she gradually expanded her team and got her daughter involved, which eventually led to opening a bricks-and-mortar shop in the small town of Masham in 2019.

Alison Orr

Alison loves sustainable fashion, 100% cashmere, vintage silk scarves, family life and the countryside. Many years ago she developed an antipathy to the waste she saw everywhere, in food as well as clothing. And this led her to cashmere, which was often thrown away completely unnecessarily. She founded Nearly New Cashmere Co. and set out to rescue, repair and restore cashmere clothing that had been destined for landfill. The luxurious material and the garments made from it find their way to new owners at an affordable price and continue to bring joy.

The early days weren’t easy, of course: her budget was small and finding out where and how to actually source cashmere clothes was difficult. Over time, she built trust with her suppliers and now has partners in Canada, the US, Italy and the UK. Another reflection of her commitment to sustainability is “virtual travel” – working with suppliers remotely. This has enabled her to expand her network into India and Pakistan without the environmental burden of physical travel.

Her family uses a Škoda Fabia to travel to new sources of cashmere but also for other work trips and to transport goods around the town. Her Fabia is not the latest generation, though: in line with their philosophy, her family has been using the car for a long time. After all, why shouldn’t they, when their four-wheeled assistant is so reliable?

The family business has relied on a Škoda Fabia for years

Today, Alison’s brand is well established. The cashmere clothes she acquires in various states of preservation pass through thorough restoration, resulting in luxury clothing at an affordable price. Alison’s team at Nearly New Cashmere are not just a workforce, they are skilled artisans – artists, even – who share the same values of sustainability and quality that Alison herself espouses. In this way, Alison’s approach has created an entire community of people cultivating a culture of sustainable fashion that reaches far beyond Yorkshire, the UK and Europe.

Recovering and reusing materials, even precious materials like cashmere, has a dual purpose: to lessen the impact on the environment and to bring joy through unique and high-quality clothing. Alison and her staff also educate customers, showing them various sustainable practices, emphasising the need to jettison the throwaway culture and offering advice on clothing care and tips for sustainable shopping.

Explorers of sustainability

This documentary series features short films about sustainability, connecting with nature, living in harmony with the world around us, not destroying the environment and taking only as much of it as we need. The series showcases interesting and inspiring people, their imaginative projects and unconventional and humble approach to life. As they all live and work in today’s modern world, it goes without saying that the documentaries also show the link between the topic of sustainability and the current motoring world. The people featured in the films have indomitable and sustainable partners – cars with a winged arrow in their emblem.