How Sustainable Brand TALA Is Disrupting The $167bn Athleisure Category

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In a $167 billion market, standing out from the crowd could appear to be an impossible task. Athleisure brand TALA, however, is rising to the challenge.

Founded in May 2019, by fitness influencer and entrepreneur Grace Beverley, the brand has already generated revenue of £5.2 million in less than a year. Its mission to create ‘on-trend, affordable, high-performance activewear, that is 100% up-cycled and honest’ has struck a chord with a cohort that’s notoriously hard to connect with.

For Beverley’s 1 million-plus followers (most of whom fall into the millennial and Gen Z demographic) the brand’s ability to understand their motivations, and in response disrupt the status quo of a category that on the whole, hasn’t been listening to their needs, has captured their attention and transformed it into sales.

In fact, with TALA, Beverley has proven that by eliminating barriers to entry, such as premium pricing and the substitution of style for sustainability, it is possible to cultivate behaviour change among consumers searching for sustainable brands that can bridge the gap between intention and action. The brand’s ability to regularly sell out collections in under an hour of launch is a testament to its disruptive ethos.

With conscious consumerism steadily evolving from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘non-negotiable’, sustainable activewear is gaining momentum, with searches for the term alone, rising by 151 percent over the past year. To attract new audiences and maintain growth in an increasingly saturated market, the athleisure brands of the future will need to adapt to this changing landscape. If they’re looking for a playbook to follow, TALA could teach them a thing or two.

Here, founder of TALA Grace Beverley shares her thoughts on ethical consumerism, TALA’s success, and spearheading real change.

On spotting a gap in a saturated market………

I began conceptualising TALA over two years ago when I realised that there weren’t many activewear brands that I could comfortably support, whether because of their sustainability, price-point or inclusivity. 

I decided to take a deeper look at what types of brands were out there and realised that there was a huge gap in the market for a company that matched the prices of similar activewear companies but was sustainable and ethical. 

So, we got to work on TALA, with the aim of producing high-performance activewear from upcycled and recycled materials. We were able to launch in May 2019 and since then have sold more than 60,000 products and saved over 2 million litres of water compared with non-recycled options.

On capturing the imagination of consumers by disrupting the status quo………

I believe one of the reasons TALA has done so well is because it has so many USPs. 

There were so many aspects of the brand that we wanted to make sure we had in place from the offset. We wanted to make sure we were starting with an entirely inclusive marketing campaign and following that through every area of our business. Beyond that, of course, sustainability is one of our biggest selling points –– we currently ensure that all of our clothes are made from over 92% upcycled or recycled materials which come from either offcuts or plastic bottles that would’ve gone to landfill. 

We’re also really conscious of who makes our clothes –– we do not believe you can empower your customers if the people making your clothes are working in terrible conditions, drinking contaminated water and essentially living a very low standard of living so that people can have another item of clothing.

How Sustainable Brand TALA Is Disrupting The $167bn Athleisure Category

Image: TALA

On startups spearheading real change………

I think the rise in sustainable brands and change in consumer habits are really scaring some of the big fast fashion brands, and I truly hope this leads to change, no matter how much competition it creates for us. 

I hope that fast-fashion brands can move beyond greenwashing with recycled collections when they still incinerate their old stock among other issues. And that they stop talking about female empowerment when the 250 million women worldwide are living in horrendous conditions being paid far less than our minimum hourly wage per day to make their clothing. 

I think people are really starting to ask questions and vote with their money, and seeing through some of the BS – long may it continue!

On balancing ethics against the expectations of an ‘on-demand’ generation………

One of our biggest challenges is that everyone has expectations of us as if we are a fast-fashion company when we are a slow fashion brand. This means we have to predict demand months in advance and as a result occasionally can’t fulfil that demand, with products quickly selling out. 

People see big companies that can provide for that demand, but we are very much a slow fashion company and I’m proud of that. 

TALA is worth the wait. We don’t feel comfortable with a trade-off between paying our workers a fair amount and having cheaper products that we can restock within a week – ethics comes first.

On building a sustainable lifestyle brand………

We have SO many plans for TALA that it’s almost overwhelming (but mostly exciting). 

A big focus for us is product development. There really is demand for sustainable lifestyle brands that can be your go-to for whatever you need – whether it’s a pair of shoes or a dress for a night out. 

If we’re looking for a sustainable option that we can’t find at TALA or elsewhere for a good price, we’re looking into making it ourselves. That could be activewear or products like make-up remover pads to ensure people aren’t rebuying cotton pads every month.

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