We speak with Ella Campion, Founder of Hermit London - the nightwear brand made from luxury bed linen. What shines through when we speak with Ella is her thirst for turning problems into solutions; through working with a waste-product of the hotel industry that usually ends up in landfill, she creates whimsical nightwear with designs inspired by her time growing up by the sea.
We’d love to hear about your journey to launching Hermit – how did it all begin?
"The idea behind Hermit began over lockdown in 2020, after I’d read an article in Vogue by Madeleine Luckel, Why Bed-Linen Waste Might Just Be the Next Big Sustainability Problem You’ve Never Thought Of. This led me to explore the lifecycle of bed linen further, and as I spoke to 5* Hotels and Members’ Clubs, I learnt the issue was much larger than I had previously imagined. Luxury hotel bed linen accounts for around 10 million tons of textile waste a year in Europe alone, with most of it ending up in landfill.
With my background in textiles, I felt I was well placed to explore solutions, and so started my passion in giving luxury cotton another life, and the start of Hermit."
What inspired you to start a sustainable brand?
"As a textile designer, I am passionate about doing all I can to work against the global textile waste crisis. By 2030 we are expected to be discarding more than 134 tonnes of textiles a year. When lockdown happened, I suddenly had the opportunity to create a brand, having always wanted to run my own business, that focused around tackling these issues hoping to be a part of building something which had a strong focus on sustainability."
We love the idea of repurposing something that is usually reserved for luxury trips away and bringing into your everyday life. Why did you choose luxury bed linen as your material of choice?
"Waste. Every year vast quantities of high thread count bed linen is thrown out by hotels due to small stains, pulls and frays. Cotton is one of the thirstiest and most chemical intensive crops to grow, requiring huge amounts of pesticides.
Considering this environmental cost of a material so widely used in the fashion industry, I knew I had to find a way of saving and repurposing it into something of value."
What is the inspiration behind your designs?
"I have been bought up by the sea and have always collected shells since I was little. When it came to designing Hermit, they both became a strong part of the creative and making of the brand."
Do you have any advice would you give to someone just starting out on building their own fashion brand?
"One of the biggest things I learnt very early on in building Hermit is that as a founder you have to throw yourself at all areas of the business.
Learning it all whilst on the job has been challenging but hugely rewarding too. Mainly it is getting used to the fact that you will always have a million things on your to do list!"
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
"One of the best experiences so early in our journey was being asked to be a part of a Christmas pop-up at Selfridges with the amazing Liv and Daisy from A South London Makers Market as part of their Project Earth campaign."
Have you come up against any hurdles in launching a sustainable brand?
"Our core mission is to try and support small and British businesses in everything we do from our printing, packaging and the making of our beautifully crafted one-of-a-kind pyjamas. One of the biggest challenges in this has been creating a localized supply chain, which obviously takes time. This has been a big lesson, especially if you are looking to work with people and companies that share the same ethos as you.
We have been so lucky in everyone we have worked with and met so far on our journey, hoping to be as transparent as possible in a hope to build up a network who are also on a mission to build a more sustainable future."
What makes you feel optimistic about our planet’s future?
"I believe the fashion landscape is changing and there is a huge shift to produce better fashion. The idea of what is new and what is old is being challenged by designers and brands in an exciting way. There are developments in raw material recycling that could revolutionize everything for a hope of a circular future."
Which podcast is top of your list at the moment?
"Wardrobe Crisis by Claire Press is one of my favourite fashion podcasts that explores challenges the industry faces in paving the way towards a sustainable and ethical future."
Thank you, Ella!