Updated: Sep 13, 2022
Angelo and Tino Legrand: environmentally friendly entrepreneurs engaging themselves in every single action.
With Danish and Belgian descent, two young brothers have recently created a deeply sustainable business reality which is destined to leave a mark reducing their ecological footprint. Angelo and Tino Legrand are nearly the same age in their twenties and they share a strong sense of eco responsibility that comes from their environmentally friendly parents and the context in which they grew up. The Principality of Monaco is investing heavily in energy transition, zero environmental impact mobility and sustainable tourism with a view to achieving carbon neutrality in 2050. This eco avant-garde vision encouraged the two brothers to conceive a new enterprise totally engaged in the environmental cause. Thus, R4 Clothing is not only a fashion company but an innovative way of doing business. This is the result of a course of studies completed in London where both Angelo and Tino approached Sustainability in several aspects. The entrepreneurial mission is now launched and it seems to merge the latest trends in global market, increasingly attentive to any environmental impact. MONACŒCOART® had the pleasure to collect some fresh comments from Angelo Legrand (A.L.) who leads us to discover R4 Clothing’s dimension.
MONACŒCOART®: Angelo, how did the idea of creating R4 Clothing come about? How would you define R4 Clothing?
A.L.: R4 is indeed more than a simple clothing brand, it is a reflection of our personal interests geared towards protecting the natural world. We both pursued academic studies in fields related to Sustainability. In particular, I got a Bachelor’s Degree in Earth, Energy and Sustainability, as well as a Master Degree in Sustainable Resources, whilst Tino holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography. So, we are mere ‘environmental fanatics’. The idea of R4 was born some years ago when we were on a trip observing dolphins and whales with TAF – The Animal Fund, founded by Berit Legrand (our mother) who asked us to help with designs for the association’s new merchandising. We found the process interesting and thought:
“We should create clothes that are cool, but also good for the planet!”
So, we did some research about the fashion and sustainable industry and we came across two problems. The first was that the fashion industry is amongst the top environmental polluters. The second one was about our lack of knowledge! Although we had studied sustainability at university, we did not face the impacts of fashion industry, which inevitably came as a surprise.
R4’s plan of action is consequently divided throughout three approaches: a) to create sustainable garments that raise awareness about the impacts of the fashion industry; b) to educate on the importance of transitioning towards a sustainable fashion system, and c) to create a community of sustainable actors protecting our planet.
All that, then, defines R4’s mission: to educate on the value of sustainable fashion.
MONACŒCOART®: Can you tell us three strengths of your company supporting your choice?
A.L.: The brand name ‘R4 Clothing’ was inspired from the 3R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This slogan was coined in the United States in the 1970s and it has been used since then across multiple industries to incentivise sustainable practices, particularly in regard to consumer behaviours. We have added the word ‘Repeat’ to show our inspiration from the principles of a circular economy. This word also adds the notion of ‘sustainability’ itself, the ability to exist and live without compromising the needs of future generations.
At R4, sustainability is implemented throughout the entire supply chain, where three strengths to ‘do better’ arise: sustainable fabrics, ‘invisible’ packaging, and circular return-scheme. * (Footnote1)
While we consistently try our best to improve our approach to sustainability, it is important to communicate that we are not perfect. We aspire to break new grounds and bridge the gaps in the fashion industry in relation to sustainability, however, we remain a small and momentum start-up with limited resources. We therefore show transparency throughout the entire process.
MONACŒCOART®: Who are the ideal actors you are seeking to build up your sustainable ecosystem?
A.L.: Being an educational brand and forging sustainable partnerships are the two other core approaches in our plan of action, in addition to creating sustainable garments.
We are living in an era where humankind is becoming unprecedentedly disconnected with our natural environment, and so we seek to rebuild lost connections between people, nature, and fashion. We want people to know why what we are doing is important.
People cannot exist without nature. Fashion is currently damaging it…
As such, we want to educate on the importance of sustainability in fashion, for the planet, and for you.
We want to give meaning to your clothes, as we believe that your appearance reflects who you are. In fact, you are what you wear.
Education is therefore done through social media marketing and content creation (e.g.: on our website and social media platforms) but also actively in educational settings, for instance in schools, at conferences and events.
Building up an ecosystem with the right actors is furthermore crucial to grow the brand. We are witnessing an emergent new generation of businesses implementing sustainable practices. Amidst all such businesses having sustainability at their core, we believe there should not be any competition because their essential purpose should be to protect the environment. No matter ‘who protects the environment the best or the fastest’, we should instead work collectively to just protect the planet. And so, we deem that it is vital to build a community.
MONACŒCOART®: Sustainability, ethics, aesthetics, quality, inclusion, positivity: which value would you put first as a milestone that supports the others? Which actions would you consider effective to make fashion truly sustainable?
A.L.: The value of positivity, by far. Everything we do at R4 is fuelled by a positive mind-set. We are not here to share bad news, there are enough of those in mainstream media! We exist to educate and raise awareness about the fashion industry, and to show that there is a positive outlook through a variety of alternative solutions without undermining the importance of all other values!
We believe that effective actions to make fashion more sustainable should come from both sides, top-down and bottom-up. Every actor plays a role: whether governments or law regulators change the system, industry leaders alter their means of production, small businesses foster provocative change, or consumers adopt healthier habits – every actor matters. These are not mutually exclusive, on the contrary, they should occur simultaneously.
A change towards a circular fashion system is not only possible, but also necessary for the welfare of our planet and people. When we take a step back and analyse the way in which the fashion industry functions, one can only argue that something is wrong. For instance, many fast fashion brands create a new collection every single week. Multiply this for all brands, across every store, in every country... that is a lot of clothes, and a lot of waste!
Environmental impacts are caused throughout the entire supply chain, yet the environment is not the sole victim: unethical production is causing a lot of harm on garment workers and all people involved. Therefore, it is clear that a positive change must happen, we need to move away from the current ‘take-make-dispose’ system.
As an example, natural fibres are definitely better than synthetic ones. It has been proven that some fabrics, such as hemp or bamboo, cause less environmental damage than polyester. Yet, it remains challenging to make such a bold statement, as life cycle analyses show that there are always pros and cons on both sides. There are still gaps in knowledge and information that need to be filled with scientific research.
MONACŒCOART®: Can you talk about the specific bag you use to package R4 Clothing garments? Where did you get the idea?
A.L.: The packaging – called the #INVISIBLEBAG – comes from the Invisible Company. They have all the credit! We were gratefully put in contact through TAF – The Animal Fund who met the company’s founders some years ago. The #INVISIBLEBAG is water-soluble, compostable, and biodegradable. Non-toxic certified, it leaves no harmful residues on earth, and it does not form micro-plastic. It is made of a biodegradable combination of Polyvinyl Alcohol (known as PVA) together with starch, glycerine and water.
This revolutionary packaging has had a great impact on consumers. The #INVISIBLEBAG replaces conventional packaging and entirely removes the need for plastic. It looks and feels the same as the petroleum-derived most popular material, minus the negative environmental impacts. It is also fun to use! As such, collaborating with the Invisible Company has been a great asset to the growth of R4, as it promotes our value of ‘positivity’. This type of packaging and its applicability across multiple industries is truly a sign of hope and investing in such a practice is a no-brainer.
MONACŒCOART®: What are your plans for the future? How would you wish to develop your brand & corresponding paradigm shift?
A.L.: Our plans for the future are still a work in progress, and it is likely that the next step of our journey is a form of investment to be able to have the resources to grow.
Starting a small sustainable start-up in an industry with so much already-existing competition (particularly fast-fashion brands) is very challenging. The industry is predominantly controlled by the big brands and these are now implementing ‘sustainable strategies’ in order to ‘keep up with the new trends’. And so, although we don’t believe in competition when it comes to sustainability, we are still competing – yet not against brands, but against 'greenwashing' and the 'system' itself. Furthermore, this emphasizes the need to differentiate ourselves, and we have chosen to do so namely through education.
With regards to our vision, we dream of becoming a leading educational brand accelerating the normalisation of sustainable fashion.
We want to challenge the status quo and become a thought-provoking actor for the industry and the consumer, to shift to a sustainable system. We want to act as pioneers of an ambitious change and stimulate current and future generations. Our personal goal as co-founders is to make people care about the environment, by tackling an industry that people are involved with on a daily basis. R4 Clothing is therefore a reflection of our personal goal, that can be developed, down the line, into something that derives into other sectors. ***
👥 ✒By Maurice Abbati
* (Footnote1) The brand name can also be reflected in the following steps:
• STEP 1: Sustainable fabrics (e.g. hemp) generate much fewer environmental impacts than conventional ones (e.g. cotton). They often help to protect soil, promote biodiversity, preserve water and energy use, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. (‘Reduce’ environmental impacts, ‘Reuse’ recycled materials in the production of new garments).
• STEP 2: The #INVISIBLEBAG packaging is water soluble, compostable and biodegradable, which eradicates the need for plastic in this step of the supply chain. (‘Reduce’ plastic waste).
• STEP 3: We incentivize customers to send back their worn-out R4 garments through our Return-Scheme by offering a discount on future purchases, in order to reduce waste at the end of the garment’s life cycle. (‘Recycle’ garments).
To know more about R4 Clothing please visit: Official Website