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Behind the brand: Meet the brothers who are combining style with sustainability


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Fashion Revolution reports that one in three consumers consider the social and environmental impacts when buying clothes. There's been a huge surge in demand for ethically sourced clothing that fit in with a sustainable lifestyle and in this series, we're going to be meeting the people behind these brands.

Swole Panda was set up by Oliver Slacke and his brother, James. A clothing and accessories brand, Swole Panda uses bamboo to create their products. The main ethos behind the brand is simple: "To create the highest quality clothing and accessories from bamboo that is possible whilst thinking about the world we live in whilst doing it," says co-founder Oliver.

Oliver (right) and James Slacke, the founders of Swole Panda. Image Courtesy of Swole Panda

Oliver, who is the elder of the two brothers, talks us through how he first gained an interest in sustainability: "I have always had a huge interest in geography, studying it at school, college and then taking a geography degree at Kings College London. Growing up through a period of time where climate change has been at the forefront of the media really sparked my interest in what can be done to minimise the human impact on the planet. This interest grew after finishing my degree."

This love for geography and the environment led Oliver down a path of learning about ethically sourced fashion and accessories: "I was learning about sustainability and alternative resources as part of my course at university, one of them being bamboo. This led me to investigate the huge array of products bamboo can be used for, one of them being sunglasses."

Morpheus bamboo sunglasses, £59.95 Image Courtesy of Swole Panda

Environmental impacts aren't the only positive aspects of using bamboo to create sunglasses either. "Having grown up around boats, we would see so many friends and family that would lose their sunglasses each year as they sunk to the bottom of the sea. The fact the bamboo sunglasses we first designed would float was perfect!" says Oliver.

The brothers saw there was a gap in the market for their products and thus, Swole Panda was born. How did they come up with such a unique name? Oliver talks us through the meaning behind it: "Swole means strong in the urban dictionary and as a brand, we have strong visions of what we want to achieve. The 'Panda" part really emphasises that fact all of our products incorporate bamboo in some way [as] people tend to correlate pandas with bamboo." 

The brand doesn't just stock sunglasses either, it now sells a wide range of clothing and accessories including socks. The socks are designed in the brothers' Sussex office and then created using sustainably sourced Moso bamboo. 

Bamboo socks, from £9.95  Image Courtesy of Swole Panda

At just 21 and 24, Oliver and James created their brand after finding a niche in the market, showing that anything can be possible if you really set your mind to it and are determined to succeed. 

Oliver has one final piece of advice for any students wanting to get into the fashion industry: "Studying geography at university, I never imagined being in the fashion industry at all. However, I would say that if you do want to get into the industry, focus on a brand and product set that will last and be in demand for a while. Don't chase the latest fad or trend."


Lead image courtesy of Swole Panda

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