At 4ft 11in, Abbey Gregg always had issues finding clothes that would flatter her figure and often founder herself disappointed at the limited amount of high-quality and stylish yet sustainable clothing available.
To remedy this, she began making her own clothes in her early teens and soon after buying her first sewing machine, she realised how much she enjoyed the production process and begun her very first venture selling reworked vintage pieces online.
“After university, I began working as a fashion buyers assistant but with a low salary and unhealthy work environment, I knew I had to create my own path,” Gregg told Retail Gazette.
“After months of research, I found that I shared a common frustration with other women under 5ft 4in who are tired of being unrepresented and having limited options in the market.
Despite 50 per cent of the female population within the UK being under 5’4”, they only have access to three per cent of garments available in their size.
Inspired to launch her own petite womenswear collection – in 2021, Alyda was born.
Alyda is a contemporary womenswear brand producing both ethical and timeless garments that exclusively targets petite millennial women under 5’4”.
“My aim is to fill the gap between the fast-fashion and luxury markets, targeting and empowering the modern-day petite women who often struggle to find flattering, high-quality and sustainable clothing at an accessible price,” explained Gregg.
“All pieces are designed with the petite figure in mind, addressing the common fit issues head on and are accessible to petite women of different shapes and sizes.”
Gregg, who day to day juggles working her full-time in fintech and running the business only uses ethically-produced fabrics and partners with a responsible manufacturer to try and limit fashion waste.
She made the decision stating that sustainability has always been important for her.
“During my time travelling overseas and working within the fast fashion industry, I saw first-hand whilst working in the fashion industry the is a constant friction between profit and environmental impact where disposable, cheap clothes produced overnight to react to the fast-paced changing consumer demands.”
“For me personality, I could never rationalise operating at the expense of the livelihoods of other people for the goal of growth and profitability.”
“Alyda really focuses on being a slow fashion brand”
By having a thoughtful approach to fashion production she explained that her garments are better quality, while also lasting longer.
“Investing in higher-quality clothing, wearing them more often and holding onto them for longer, is the not-so-secret weapon for combatting the carbon footprint from your garments,” she added.
By extending the life of clothes by just 9 months, Gregg explained that this would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by 20 – 30 per cent.
To combat waste, Aldya creates high-quality pieces of clothing in small batches that are designed to be cherished forever and to minimise the retailer’s carbon footprint, all garments are made in the UK where workers are paid a London living wage.
“Some targets are hard to achieve straight away, that’s why we pledge to be innovative and continue to evolve,” she said.
A decade ago, petite women would have struggled significantly more than they do now to find suitable clothing options however now more brands have added petite sections to their offerings in a bid to be more inclusive.
Gregg said the petite fashion market consists of a few competitors: fast fashion brands targeting a younger audience and niche specialists targeting the older working women.
“However, supply does not meet demand, only 3 per cent of clothing is available in petite sizing.
“Overall, petite women are a grossly underserved market, as a result many women settle for low quality clothing that is too long and fits disproportionately on them.”
So what makes Aldya different?
“We design with the petite figure in mind, addressing the common fit issues head on and creating collections tailored for petite women of all shapes and sizes, said Gregg.
“The brand has a strong emphasis on slow fashion, developing each piece with consideration of its environmental impact, prioritising the use of sustainable fabrics, producing garments in small batches and collaborating with factories at the forefront of ethical manufacturing.”
Despite only launching in summer 2021 Alyda as already been announced in TechRound’s Top 26 Fashion Startups, and been featured in BBC, Who What Wear, Refinery29 etc.
Prior to the launch, Gregg even received the coveted Young Innovators’ Award, a nationwide competition run by Innovate UK and The Prince’s Trust to find the UK’s most promising startups run by under 30s.
Offering advice to smaller business owners or those thinking of starting their own brand, she put an emphasis on starting small.
“Get to know your audience then build from there.”
She also cited the importance of celebrating the small wins and regularly reflecting on how much you have achieved on a regular basis.
For the future, Gregg is currently working on the next collection that is set to launch early next week.