When it comes to sustainable fashion, it can be hard to know where to start. We are spoilt for choice when it comes to those shifting towards a more ecological way of producing, but it's often hard to decipher who is actually making a difference.

Shafiq Hassan, co-founder of responsible womenswear brand Ninety Percent firmly believes that “if you do something, you've got to make a positive impact, or else what is the point?” He set up the label in 2018 alongside Para Hamilton, out of their shared love for nature and desire to support local communities.

“Para was the first person to teach me that the climate comes first,” he says, an ethos that has stayed with him since the pair met back in the 1980s. Combine this activist mindset with Shafiq's background in anti-poverty organisation, education in chemical engineering, and years spent in the rag trade and the backbone for Ninety Percent was formed.

“We first thought about Ninety Percent in 2005,” he says, “but it took us over a decade to launch because we didn't know how to go about it. For us to really do something that challenged the norms, we had to question the traditional way of doing business.”

Today, Ninety Percent offers clothing designed for longevity, comfort and elegance while also ensuring that all the textiles and processes used have the lowest impact on the planet. Using 100% regenerative materials like Cupro, made from discarded cotton seeds that appears illustrious and silk-like, to popularised TENCEL​, a stronger alternative to viscose made from Eucalyptus wood pulp, the brand champions circular fabrics and makes over 80% of garments under one roof.

Ninety Percent also has unique but exciting charitable credentials, reinvesting 90% (hence the name) of its profits back into the people and causes it believes in. “In a normal business, shareholders just pocket the money and do what they want with it, buy a house, or a new car. But when we make profits we give it back to the causes we believe in,” Shafiq says. Many of the charities are close to both Para and Shafiq’s hearts, including the international development charity BRAC, where Shafiq has been a board member for over 10 years and has seen its positive impact in tackling poverty, alongside, animal protection charities Wild Aid and Big Life Foundation – to name a few.

Last year, the former founder of cult Skandi brand BITE Studios, made a move to Ninety Percent as its new creative director. Since his arrival, Elliot Atkinson has brought a new refined appeal to the brand via interesting cuts, delightful colour palettes and fabric manipulation. “Elliot, he's been a game changer for us, with his eye for silhouette, definition and attention to detail. We haven't had anything like this before,” says Shafiq, as he points at a preview of the SS24 collection, “We are so blessed to have him, even though he probably wants to shoot me sometimes. It’s been an amazing synergy.”

The future looks bright for the brand built with an eco-mindest as we enter an era when sustainability is no longer just something you shout about but not act upon. And it's rare in fashion that you meet someone so devoted to wider causes than those within their creative remit, but Shafiq's passion for the planet shines through. “This industry is broken and we have known this for years,” says Shafiq, “Having that knowledge has propelled us to take a different route and try to fix the problem from the inside.”

Visit the brand’s first pop-up in Harrods, which will run until September 17th and discover more at ninetypercent.com...

Not had enough yet? Shop some of our favourite Ninety Percent picks here...

By Augustine Hammond