Winning a Queen's Award

Finding out we’d won a Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development in 2020 was a very special day for us. It was the result of a mission that’s now become a mindset.

For the last 60 years, we’ve been weaving sustainability into everything we do: keeping manufacturing in the UK, choosing our fabrics with care from trusted suppliers who share our values as well as investing in education and the traditional skills that underpin the textile industry.

“A Queen's Award is the highest recognition a British company can receive. Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do and we are hugely honoured to be recognised as the only Derbyshire business with an accolade in the category.”

Christopher Nieper, Managing Director

Why it matters

We know our customers care about the clothes that they wear: where the fabrics come from, how they’re made and the care that goes into every last detail. Britain may be a world leader in fashion design and education, yet nearly everything we wear as a nation is imported.

We’re on a mission to change that – and it’s this deep-seated commitment to UK manufacturing, to reinvigorating our fashion industry and to following sustainable practices and protecting global resources that led us to the prestigious Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development.

When we applied, we were confident about our sustainability credentials – operationally, all our factories benefit from solar power: even the rainwater harvested in roof tanks is used to supply around 90% of our requirements. We print, sew, knit and finish all our clothes in Derbyshire, never overseas – and we always will. We’re not part of the ‘fast fashion’ generation, making all our clothes just for our customers. There’s no overproduction and less than 1% of our stock is waste – and even that is donated to charity.

Prioritising skills and education

Part of sustainability is passing on heritage skills, looking to the past to inspire the future. We set up our Sewing Academy on site so that our experienced seamstresses can pass on their skills to aspiring dressmakers. We also run nationally recognised Apprenticeship programmes to train the next generation of seamstresses, pattern cutters and machinists. Locally, we sponsor the David Nieper Academy where we help students develop employability skills as well as sending our designers and machinists into the school to work with them on projects such as upcycling and repurposing donated clothes. Focusing on education and training equips our young people with the confidence to pursue their dreams and at the same time reinvigorates the fashion industry in a sustainable and enduring way.

You can find out more about our commitment to education, skills and training here.

Choosing ethical suppliers

We won’t compromise on quality or integrity, always choosing to work with suppliers who treat their people, animals and environment with respect and use precious natural resources in a responsible way. As an example, we buy our lambswool from a 200-year-old Yorkshire mill and the special cotton we use for our softest nightwear, known as Supreme Green® is sustainably sourced from Naoussa in Greece. We’ll keep making the right choices about our partners and suppliers.

Harnessing solar power

Our biggest investment in sustainable production so far was building a solar-powered fabric print factory right here in Alfreton. This fabulous facility means we can now print and dye our own fabrics, making the entire production process sustainable and 100% traceable. Printing our own fabric also reduces waste, cuts our carbon footprint and saves water, helping us towards our goal of being the greenest clothing manufacturing in Europe. Most of the clothes you’ll see in our latest collection will be printed and dyed right here in Derbyshire: no extra road and air miles are needed until your delivery arrives with you by post.

Did you know that every David Nieper garment created in our Derbyshire sewing rooms generates 47% fewer emissions than a similar item produced in China?

Find out more about our Environmental Responsibility.

So what’s next for us?

Although we’re thrilled to have won the Queen’s Award, we’re always striving to find new ways to make a difference. Currently this means carrying out feasibility studies into using more renewable energy across our whole business and focusing on the good work that we can do, locally and nationally.

We’ve joined the Race to Zero to cut carbon emissions to zero by 2030 and are confident of achieving this by 2025. What’s more, our CEO Christopher Nieper is spearheading a campaign to introduce an industry wide eco kitemark label so that shoppers can see at a glance how environmentally friendly their garment is, based on its carbon emissions.

When you buy David Nieper clothes, you are already choosing to support a British company committed to greener manufacturing. Now that we have a Royal seal of approval for our sustainability efforts, you can feel even better about what you wear, too. Thank you so much for your support.