Cover Toby Crispy hit pause on her career and redirected her path towards eco-fashion (Photo: Courtesy of Toby Crispy)

The owner of upcycled fashion labels LastbutnotLeast and FashionClinic by T shares her insights on reinventing the fashion industry, and how that aligns with Standard Chartered’s sustainable banking initiatives

The aim of a sustainable lifestyle is to reduce how many natural resources a person—or society—consumes. For designer and sustainable fashion advocate Toby Crispy, the choice to live this way close to her heart.

She has long known that the fashion industry could do better at promoting sustainability. Now, as the founder of upcycled clothing labels LastbutnotLeast and FashionClinic by T, she’s using her insights to educate others.

Formerly a design manager for French label Agnès b, she found that the workload and pace of the job could be overwhelming. But worse, she discovered, was the transient, ever-changing nature of the fashion industry, which can lead to a lot of pollution and waste.

“In this industry that needs to keep up with trends, everyone is a victim,” she says. “As designers, we face plagiarism and a heavy workload. We need to complete our work at lower costs and do it faster each time.”

To escape the pressure, she chose to hit pause on her career and left the label in 2013, spending time reflecting on the issues facing the industry and redirecting her career path towards eco-fashion.

The need for more sustainability is a mission that guides most businesses today, and Standard Chartered is no exception. Just as Crispy’s helps people mitigate their environmental impact, the bank now helps customers grow their wealth while supporting sustainable development, suggesting selected investment funds that adhere to high environmental, social and governance standards.

No good deed comes without obstacles. Picking up the techniques needed to upcycle clothes quickly and effectively is one of the biggest challenges Crispy faces. “Upcycling involves many different techniques and methods because it is about working with different types of fabric and texture,” she says.

Another hurdle is educating customers on the value of craftsmanship and creativity, given that they often confuse upcycling with recycling. In addition to her brand, she also works with a range of green groups and sustainable brands to organise talks, exhibitions, and workshops.

In 2016, she also launched FashionClinic, helping clients redesign their clothes and offering industry clients professional consultancy. “FashionClinic is an extension of LastbutnotLeast because their goals are the same,” Crispy says.

After a decade exploring upcycling, she follows business practices that align with her outlook, including banking services like Standard Chartered’s. From ESG investing and green mortgages to carbon-neutral credit cards and e-statements, Standard Chartered pursues sustainability. With the newly launched Sustainable Payroll Account for corporate companies, employee earnings can be maximised while leaving a positive impact on the world, with funds used to support qualified green and sustainable activities funded by Standard Chartered, including green financing, sustainable infrastructure projects, microfinance, and access to finance for SMEs that qualify through Standard Chartered’s Green and Sustainable Product Framework.

Crispy’s story breaks the myth that fostering change and living an environmentally conscious life mean giving up on quality or a passion for style. Improved environmental stewardship is something that can happen in any industry—with a little bit of help from Standard Chartered.

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