Meet the swimwear brand cleaning the oceans and empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide
Updated: Mar 25
Ruby Moon founder Jo Godden has set out to prove that fashion could truly be a force for good. After 25 years of working in the polluting fashion industry, she decided to become part of the solution.
“Seeing what the fashion industry is doing to the world and to the people that work in the supply chain, it was impossible for me to go back to mainstream fashion,” says Godden.
According to the UN Environment Programme, the fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.
On International Women’s Day in 2011, Godden launched Brighton-based Ruby Moon, the world’s first not-for-profit swim and activewear line. “I wanted to build a brand that would make a positive impact in the world,” she says. Following a circular economy business model, Godden’s main priority was to make durable products in ethical and environmentally safe conditions.
Ruby Moon is helping clean the oceans through the production of its garments, which begins with a partnership with Healthy Seas, a Dutch NGO that collects ghost fishing nets from the oceans and later transforms them into regenerated nylon yarn, known as Econyl. “The fishing nets are broken down into tiny granular plastic, which is then sent to be heated into a fibre that is knitted into our swim and activewear fabric,” says Godden.
This process not only saves marine life and reduces microfibres, but it also results in a durable material that is twice as strong. “The most important value for us is to make our garments as long-lasting as possible because that reduces the environmental impact you can make,” says Godden.
The brand is trying to keep its environmental footprint to a minimum by reducing its carbon emissions. “We have certified our product to use 42% fewer carbon emissions when compared with similar products,” the Ruby Moon website reads. “This is possible because everything is purely made in Europe, which also ensures we can maintain a transparent and safe supply chain,” says Godden.
But sustainable and ethical fashion comprises addressing more than the environment. “It was really important for us to have a social impact as well,” says Godden.
Through a collaboration with the London-based charity Lend With Care, Ruby Moon invests 100% of its profits in business loans for women entrepreneurs in 14 developing countries around the world.
“When women development happens, societal development happens as well, which is far-reaching in communities,” says Godden.
According to the United Nations, when women are able to gain income, money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, housing and education. “But also, one of the main reasons we do it is because it has an impact on the woman herself because she gains a voice in her community,” she explains.
With the retail industry currently seeing a rapid growth in the popularity of eco-friendly shopping and the demand for sustainable fashion, Godden hopes more brands within the fashion industry will start implementing a circular economy business model, something she believes to be “the future of garment making”.
“We don't have enough resources to continually use virgin fabrics anymore,” says Godden, emphasising that the world does not have finite resources. “I think we've all got the responsibility to our planet, and also to the people on the planet, to change the way we source our clothes, how we value them and how we look after them,” she says. “That’s how fashion can become a force for good.”