"For years, gatekeepers have made fashion an intimidating, unwelcoming and homogenous industry. At Peachaus, we’re doing things a bit differently."
Peachaus is live. As we release our first collection of ethical underwear, sleepwear and lifestyle pieces into the world, we also begin life as a creative platform, a place for talented minds to grow and develop their ideas with the encouragement and mentorship of our team. Across all areas of our business—from our garment makers to our web designers—we’re celebrating raw, genuine talent, regardless of background or industry connections. Our vision is limited not by convention but by imagination. And we have the latter in abundance.
“It’s hard trying to get into the creative industry”, says Krisna Cumandrai. “Especially when you have no connections”. When Krisna graduated from university with a graphic design degree and ambitions of breaking into the fashion world, she didn’t know where to start. “I felt so alone. None of my tutors were answering their emails. I was like, ‘Oh my god, what do I do?’”.
Krisna finished an internship doing some graphic design work with a digital marketing agency and began working in retail while also selling some of her own digital art online. When the pandemic hit, the idea of breaking into the fashion industry while also trying to make ends meet started to look more and more like a pipe dream. Then, she found the Creative Mentor Network, a scheme dedicated to helping young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds break into the creative industries. Krisna found a mentor, a designer at a sports agency in Manchester, who introduced her to our very own Gilly, founder of Peachaus.
“We kind of hit it off”, Krisna remembers. “A lot of her ethical values relate to my own, in terms of inclusivity and the whole personality of the brand”. Not long after their conversation, Gilly asked Krisna if she would be interested in working for Peachaus, first helping with our social media channels and then designing our all-important packaging inserts. “That’s what I like about Gilly”, Krisna adds. “She really lets me take creative control”.
Creativity is embedded in every element of Peachaus. Gilly was at an event showcasing the work of those enrolled in the Creative Mentor Network when an augmented reality filter promoting the programme caught her eye. It was designed by Osanne Gbayere, a recent graduate and software engineer with an interest in game design. Growing up in Kilburn—an area in northwest London where most kids either want to be footballers or rappers—Osanne got into programming as a teenager and studied computer science at university, where he and his fellow students spent their spare time developing video games.
Having impressed Gilly, Osanne began working with Peachaus in what he calls a “creative technologist capacity”, developing new ways for us to connect and engage with our audience. He speaks effervescently about his role. “I’m really looking to be innovative and help the brand do things that other indie fashion labels aren’t doing”, he says, reeling off ideas for interactive experiences like AR filters and games on the Peachaus platform. “Peachaus is investing in local talent. Diversity brings a refreshing perspective and I see that dynamism when we’re all together working on ideas.”
Another of the Creative Mentor Network’s talented alumnae is 18-year-old Abida Quansah, an aspiring fashion designer who recently started a foundation year at Ravensbourne. Growing up in south London with Ghanaian parents, Abida was never sure if her lifelong ambition was realistic. “I was torn between wanting to be a fashion designer and wanting to be a doctor, to make my parents happy”, she says. “I feel like in working-class backgrounds, we’re expected to pick more reliable, academic jobs instead of having the chance to choose creative careers. The industry is really white-dominated, so a lot of black people are often overlooked when it comes to the creative industry.”
But Abida persisted with her fashion aspirations, thanks, in part, to her mum, who previously worked as a seamstress. With her help, Abida made her first dress when she was eight. “After a while, I realised I didn’t actually want to be a doctor”, she says. “My heart was in designing clothes, wearing clothes, buying clothes.” Gilly realised the same thing when she was assigned as her mentor, and soon Abida was working for Peachaus as a researcher. “I want to be a fashion designer that makes a difference”, she says. “I don’t want to stand for nothing. I wanna make a change, especially in my community, which is why I love what Gilly is doing, helping less fortunate people. One day I hope to do the same.”
For a young designer, routes into the fashion industry can be daunting. When Lucy Evans was 19, she worked as an intern at two fashion labels while studying for her degree. “I literally wasn’t paid at all”, she says. “My second day at one of the brands was the show. I arrived at 10 am and left at 5 am the next morning.” Lucy says students are expected to work for free just to get some experience. “It was like, ‘Well you need to pay your dues, you need to work as an intern, for free, at least for a year, before you can get anywhere in fashion.’”
Lucy finished university in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Her final degree show was cancelled, but she felt she had to finish what she’d been working on, so she stitched her line together using her mum’s sewing machine and arranged an outdoor photoshoot. Then, through a mutual friend, she met Gilly, who loved her designs. Lucy came on board as part of the social media team in early 2021, with Gilly and Sophie Morgenthaler, our Head of Product, guiding her through the process.
In May, Gilly asked Lucy if she would design Peachaus’s first sustainable sleepwear range, “which is just pretty insane”, says Lucy, grinning. “Gilly and Sophie are just amazing mentors.”
Lucy’s sleepwear range is coming soon. And a new generation of ethical fashion creatives is learning their craft at Peachaus. Keep your eyes on Peachaus Life for more on the future of fashion.
Sam Davies is a freelance writer, born and raised in London. His writing has been published by the BBC, the Guardian, the Financial Times, the i, Condé Nast, Vice, Dazed & Confused and many other outlets covering all areas of culture, including music, TV, fashion and photography.