November 16, 2023

When It Comes To Fashion and Sustainability, How Can Brands Truly Innovate?

The fashion industry is constantly wrestling with the demand to “be more sustainable”, but instead relying solely on making changes to production, true innovation comes from inspiring audiences to think and act differently.

With the inherent ability to implement trends that have the power to decide whether as individuals, we are either in or out of style, the fashion industry also has the potential to impact and shape society as a whole; affecting the buying habits of people globally. And yet, the industry has always had a tempestuous relationship with sustainability. This is a steep uphill battle that is neverending, but there is hope. Both luxury and non-luxury brands typically employ one of two key approaches when it comes to becoming more sustainable; integrating innovative materials or shifting people’s behaviours.

Route one relies on altering the materials used to create collections and ensuring the end-buyer is aware of their positive choice and related impact they have; think of things like Zara’s “Join Life” logo, or Net-A-Porter’s NET SUSTAIN, where you can browse a selection of consciously crafted fashion, beauty, homeware and jewellery.

The level above this is when brands take their sustainability beyond the simple commitment of net-zero. One of the best examples of this kind of innovative design is “material science company” Pangaia, which is leading the sustainability conversation through reconcepting the material composition of materials to align with their inspired vision to accelerate an Earth Positive Future. The company’s patented technologies, such PPRMINT™ (an antimicrobial treatment that enables clothes to stay fresher for longer) and FLWRDWN™ (a material that offers a plant-based, animal-free and resource-efficient alternative that doesn’t compromise keeping you warm) are some of the most innovative design technologies currently on the market.

Route two, moves beyond the materials that make clothes, and looks to shift audience behaviours to change purchase habits and deliver a more sustainable approach to shopping. This comes in many forms; from resale and rental, to repair and restyling. Audience demand plays a huge role in sustainability and brand innovation. The industry is largely dictated by what people want, and there’s recently been a seismic shift when it comes to the demand for sustainable practices. In a survey conducted by McKinsey during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, “67 percent [of respondents] consider the use of sustainable materials to be an important purchasing factor, and 63 percent consider a brand’s promotion of sustainability in the same way.” And, there are a set of innovators proposing new solutions to create positive impact.

Take for example the luxury resale platform The RealReal, founded in 2011 by Julie Wainwright, the platform’s goal was to create (and then dominate) a market for secondhand luxury fashion, which as defined by Wainwright means “occupying the space between eBay and Sotheby’s.” The RealReal shifted the audience and industry’s perception of how resale could work in the luxury space, meeting an audience demand that had long existed, but never in a dedicated luxury fashion format. Other brands have quickly followed suit; with the likes of Boyish, Oscar de la Renta, Rachel Comey, Mara Hoffman, Madewell, Amour Vert, Filippa K and Kut from the Kloth are among the brands that launched a resale shop in 2021, followed by Maaji, Ministry of Supply, Michael Stars and Steve Madden among others in 2022. Department stores are also making new sustainability commitments and shifting their sustainability strategy, for example Selfridges’ Project Earth sustainability initiative includes The Repairs Concierge. The dedicated space aims to encourage people to re-wear and care for the pieces, thus making items last longer than a season.

Similarly, rentals and repairs are accessible yet innovative methods to upping a brand’s sustainability ranking. HURR and By Rotation are the front runners, but we’ve even seen non-fashion industry brands get in on the rental market, namely Japan Airlines, which is now trialling a program called “Any Wear, Anywhere”, where visitors need only pack underwear and a toothbrush as they’re able to ditch the environmentally unfriendly suitcase and instead rent every other item upon landing in Japan.

Looking beyond the fashion industry, there are interesting things happening in the tech space, taking on the styling, fit and the design process itself. There’s restyling via the app Think Shape, founded by Anna Berkely, an industry veteran. Designed to enable users to understand how clothes fit their body type, the app teaches customers what shapes suit them best. Empowered with knowledge, people are likely to only shop for items that they know will suit them style wise, they’ll use them again and again; meaning less deliveries, less emissions, less returns, less waste, making your wardrobe go further.

There’s also Stylescan, who herald themselves as a ground breaking solution set to revolutionise the design process by reducing the need for multiple samples when designing and photographing by using currently 2D (but soon 3D) models and placing clothes on, virtually. 

The point is, systemic and ingrained behaviours rarely change, until something comes along with an alternative that isn’t too much hassle and gives people the same benefit. Innovative modes to make your wardrobe go-further, are now part of the handshake deal people make when upon purchase. The future of sustainable fashion isn’t a done deal, but there is hope.

September 21, 2023

How does a luxury brand become a “cult classic”?

How does a luxury brand become a “cult classic”? Answering such a simple question seems at first, to deliver an expectedly straightforward response. Maybe it’s a simple design ethos that’s impenetrable to trend culture, maybe it’s the creation of a limited piece, exclusively reserved for celebrities or those in the know? Achieving cult status means making a significant impact within culture and fashion; doubling down on who you are and what you value, but most importantly how you realise said values in the world. And yet, when showing up today, luxury fashion can’t shake its obsession with the past.

Luxury loves history. “Heritage” continues to play a huge role in how luxury brands operate. It remains a safe space, in both design inspiration and personal history, during moments of scandal (see Balenciaga’s post-BDSM controversy). The fashion industry now has a tried and tested (read boring) formula that happens every time a new designer takes over: wiping the social channels clean, PR announcement, the introduction of a new logo design. We already know that there’s nothing new under the sun, and yet, brands such as Burberry, are managing to reclaim the concept of heritage by refocusing the brand’s expression of a new British sensibility.

Having already applied the standard new tenure formula to announce Daniel Lee’s arrival, the British heritage house took to the streets of London during Fashion Week to reinvent their modern luxury narrative and reclaim the throne of British style. Brought to life in new and innovative ways - that might feel more streetwear than luxury fashion - Burberry announced a series of immersive experiences, installations and events set to unfold across the city - each showcasing the brand’s signatures, such as seasonal check in knight blue, rose print, and the newly redefined Equestrian Knight design - paying tribute to the brand’s archive - that are Lee’s signature brand motifs. As noted by AnOther Magazine, "Lee's arrival at Burberry signifies at once "an exercise in shifting and rebranding" and a return to the origins for a label that since its foundation in 1856, has become synonymous with Britishness in all its cultural incarnations."

In pursuit to drive this further, the brand has taken over icons of British culture, including the Bond Street Underground tube stop, aptly renamed “Burberry Street” and launched a takeover of Norman’s, the North London café renowned for its British cuisine. The activation coincides with the highly anticipated launch of Winter 2023, Daniel Lee’s first collection for the brand – now available both in store and online, alongside a redesign of its e-commerce website, marking a new era and creative vision for Burberry.

“Burberry flies the flag for Britishness and for the UK and for culture. So, we have to use our platforms because we have a responsibility to communicate those things,” Lee told Vogue Runway in December. "I don’t know if this is the right way to say this, but more than surprising people, I really would like them to see the new vision and feel reassured — like, ‘Oh, yeah, this makes sense: This is what Burberry should be.’”

The LFW show continued the next-gen Britishness streak, taking over London’s Highbury Fields with a giant tent adorned in the new check print. Cult classics came thick and fast down the runway. Trenches and scarves galore, all served up with a healthy dose of British wit and September drizzle, acutely demonstrating Lee's continued ambition to re-define modern Britishness for a global luxury audience. This is Lee's Burberry London, we're just living in it.

So, what does it really mean to create a “cult classic?” Ultimately, it’s about understanding the past and pushing the limits of possibility forwards. Cult classics are founded in heritage, inspired by today’s culture, and perhaps allusion to the ambitious energy of tomorrow.

September 6, 2023

The Lightbulb: Stephanie Fuller

For this issue we interviewed the incredibly inspirational CEO of Charity, Switchboard LGBT+ the second-oldest LGBT+ telephone helpline in the United Kingdom.
Stephanie joined Switchboard in early 2021 as General Manager, bringing with her more than 15 years experience of operating at a senior level in a variety of non-profit organisations. Responsible for leading the effective day to day running of Switchboard, Stephanie is passionate about empowering and enabling the incredible volunteers. Here at Rankin HQ we’ve had the privilege of working with Stephanie and her team on and off for the past three years, most recently when she commissioned our short film ‘The Call’, in a hallmark movie showing what a creative force of nature she is.

We caught up with Stephanie earlier this summer, as she was recovering from London pride and could have sat listening to her for hours. Some brilliantly thought provoking stories, thoughts and words of wisdom for this issue of The Lightbulb.


My wife and I, Karen, have four kids; they're 18, 19, 20 and 21, I find them incredibly inspiring. They show me things about the world today whether it's via tech or what’s going on with their friendship groups. They are also so different.

My eldest was diagnosed with Autism and has taught me more about the world than any other human.  

They keep me tuned in, they encourage me to explore, to learn more, they change the way I look at the world. I talk to them about work, they question stuff, they’re much more informed than my generation was. Much more invested. 

My team at work inspires me everyday too. I might be CEO, but I don’t have all the answers. I think it's really important to surround yourself with the right people and give them space to bring their own ideas.


It’s more a life lightbulb moment that has given me a new perspective on every facet of my life. It was an incredibly pivotal moment and it is only really recently I’ve started to talk about it. 

Going back to 1989, I was 19 and I was at Hillsborough. I was so fortunate to survive that day but it was very traumatic. It took me almost 20 years to process it, and realise I’d been given another opportunity in life and it gave me a whole new perspective to how I live life, really.  I don’t just mean the trauma either, but after  years of burying it, not talking about it, I realised I’d just buried it, not talked about it, but it impacted every decision I’d made.

I’d never really fully unpacked the events of the day. In reflecting on that I realised I had been using it to propel me, it had shaped my decisions, it made me comfortable with setbacks and whilst I still can’t really watch anything about it on television, I began to fully appreciate how much it had ended up shaping my life and my attitude. 

It's an experience that ended up informing so much of my life and it took me a long time to realise that, so that was a huge lightbulb moment. 


I am a fairly rational person and certainly an optimist, so it's a silly obsession but I love my football. I made the weird decision to support Crystal Palace FC and find myself OBSESSED with a football club that has  never won anything. Over 100 years of not winning! 

Recently they were recognised as the world's oldest club so that added another 44 years of not winning.The matches are a place of letting off steam, I have season tickets, I go with my son, I love going to the match. 

Unfortunately I have passed this obsession on to my son, maybe he will get to see Palace win something, who knows!


You only get one lap of the track, I live by that view. So try and enjoy it. Find something that interests you and follow it.

Everyone has their own understanding of what good looks like, figure out what matters to you.

You get so much more satisfaction and fulfilment from working on or toward something that matters to you.


I thought long and hard about this, one thing transition taught me is that you don’t know people, at all.  So don't make wild assumptions.

People will surprise you.

Don't underestimate people’s capacity for change, it's wild, I don’t assume a great deal anymore. And it keeps me curious.

The unexpected liberty of transition is that you totally redefine your place in the world. This absolute freedom to redefine how you live, whereas other people don’t get to do that. So everything else is by degree.

On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I visited the Anne Frank House, there is so much to be taken in, but one perhaps less obvious thing was the comment from Otto Frank, when he concluded that despite the years of confinement with his family, when years later he read Anne's diary, he concluded that parents don’t really know their children at all.

I think Otto is right. Looking back, I’m sure my parents would say the same of me.



110-114 Grafton Rd
Kentish Town
London, NW5 4BA
Phone: +44 (0)20 7284 7320
New Business: