Riley Uggla: Sustainable Fashion & Eco Travel
Interview with Riley Studio Founder Riley Uggla

Riley Uggla: The Mission of Riley Studio & The Quest for Sustainable Travel Options


Founder of sustainable and gender-neutral clothing brand Riley Studio, Riley Uggla shares the mission and ethos of her fashion-forward company, her favourite destinations around the world and her thoughts on sustainable travel.

How did you come to found Riley Studio and what is the ethos behind it?

I set up Riley Studio with the aim of tackling overproduction and overconsumption. I wanted to build a fashion brand that changes consumer mindsets and shows that you don’t need to sacrifice style in order to be sustainable.

What production processes do you practice at Riley Studio to ensure that everything you make is green and sustainable?

I really believe that sustainability is a journey and it’s one that we are just getting started on. We’re dedicated to educating our community with the long-term vision of making sustainability the norm in the industry, not just a buzzword.

Firstly, we try to use only recycled materials. In cases where this is not possible, we work with responsibly sourced natural fibres and ensure that any of the materials that we work with are easily recyclable. When our products reach the end of their lifespan, we take responsibility for recycling them back into the system. Nothing should end up in a landfill. We work with certified materials and audited factories, and will always strive for better opportunities for all of our team.

All of the pieces in Riley Studio are gender-neutral. Can you tell me a bit about your inspiration behind this concept?

We believe in individuality and that’s why we design without gender in mind. Style knows no boundaries and neither should we.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to travel more sustainably but not sure how to?

To be honest, I’ve personally found this difficult to find information on when looking into my own holidays. I think it’s a huge gap in the market and there aren’t enough websites or platforms that you can go to that really focus on this.

I’m always on the internet exploring where to go to next and sustainability is a big consideration for me. Eco-friendly travel is a big umbrella term that encompasses several elements. So whether you’re staying in a hotel that uses only produce from an onsite farm or allotment (farm-to-table) or only employs staff from its local community, or if you take it a step further and stay in a hotel where sustainability is targeted at every angle from the bed linen and uniforms to the furniture and building construction, there is always a way to make eco-conscious travel choices.

One example that I love is The Conduit Club in London. The entire club has been built using sustainable materials from the floor tiles to bathroom sinks, cutlery and door handles. Further, they really encourage a conscious mindset by only allowing members to join if they have given back to the world in some way.

In terms of everyday habits while I’m on holiday, I always try to be as plastic-free as possible. I’ll always carry around a reusable water bottle and of course, a Riley Studio tote bag.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business in the fashion industry?

There’s nothing better and more rewarding than making a career out of your passion. Surround yourself with a great team and don’t be afraid to employ people that are stronger in some areas than you are. We all have our different strengths and it’s important to learn from each other. Definitely be prepared to get a few things wrong and always learn from those mistakes.

Do you find yourself travelling a lot throughout the year and if so, what are your most frequented destinations?

I love travelling, it’s a huge part of my life. I love to explore new places and learn about different cultures. I rarely go back to the same place unless it’s a family home or I have a particular connection to that place. For example, I go back to my home in Canada almost every year and I’ve also grown up skiing in Switzerland where I often go a couple of times a year. I love the feeling of being up in the mountains.

Does travel inspire you or inform your designs and your work? If so how?

Absolutely. Travel is a big inspiration to us, particularly the act of travelling and being in transit. It’s important to us that we design clothes that are comfortable, relaxed and smart to travel in.

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Do you prefer city breaks jam-packed with activity and sight-seeing or do you prefer more relaxed vacations where you can sit back and lounge by the pool or beach?

I love both and I think it’s important to do both and find a balance. I love being by the water and there’s nothing better than sitting on a beach knowing you don’t need to be anywhere at any time and you can literally just reset your mind, clear your head and really take in the surroundings. On the other hand, I love to visit all the wonders of the world and learn about the history of different cities. I’m particularly interested in architecture and a lot of our design inspiration comes from the clean lines and strong silhouettes that I’ve admired in architectural buildings around the world.

What is a destination that you’ve been to that you’d love to go back to and why?

The Maldives. It is without a doubt the most beautiful place that I’ve ever been to – truly out of this world. It’s one of those places that you see on Google Images and think “Yeah right, I bet that’s been photo-shopped,” but then you arrive and it’s even better than the images. Crystal clear water and white sand beaches – it really is breathtakingly beautiful.

Have you always dreamed of going to the Maldives? Check out our Imbarc Sri Lanka & The Maldives Itinerary.

What is your favourite hotel that you’ve stayed at and why? What makes an amazing hotel experience for you?

This is a hard one as I’ve been lucky enough to stay in some truly incredible places. One hotel that springs to mind immediately is The Azulik Hotel in Tulum. All the rooms are electricity-free so at night time it’s all candlelit which is spectacular. The hotel is also built amongst the trees so you really feel at one with nature.

For me, a hotel’s service can really make or break an experience. I love when the staff are warm and welcoming, treating you as long-time guests, even if it’s your first time there. Some service can be so intuitive that they’ll get you things that you want before you even knew you wanted them. Little details and touches, like a selection of pillows with different firmness levels or lavender sleep spray on the bedside table, make all the difference to a hotel experience.

If you had friends coming to visit London for a weekend who had never been here before, where would you take them?

Firstly, I’d take them to Portobello Market to explore the fantastic stalls selling all kinds of wonderful things from antique furniture to handmade jewellery. I love people watching and this is one of the best places in London for that. We’d grab a coffee and a fresh pastry and stroll around for the morning. In the evening, we’d head to Spitalfields for a change of scene in East London. The vibe here is electric and so different from West London so I always bring friends here to get a different view of London. Hyde Park is also a must for anyone who has never been to London before – it’s beautiful in all seasons.

Planning a trip to the English capital? From West to East, check out our Imbarc itinerary to London packed full of fantastic recommendations.

What is a travel destination that’s high up on your bucket list?

Antarctica to see the penguins! I want to do this when my baby, Mason, is old enough to come with me.

What are your top three travel essentials that you don’t go anywhere without?

I get really dehydrated when I travel on planes so I always take a hydration face mask with me. If I’m going to a sunny destination, I always bring a hat. My grandma always wore a hat in the sun growing up and her skin is so healthy and youthful. Sun cream is also key! One of my favourites is the REN Clean Screen Mineral Sunscreen. It has an amazingly light texture and the packaging is made from post-consumer plastic. Lastly, lip balm – a really good moisturising lip balm is always in my bag when I travel.

If you’re interested in reading about how to travel more sustainably check out our Top Tips to Eco-Travel.

Looking for a luxury hotel experience that won’t cost the earth? Check out our Top 10 Luxury Eco-Friendly Hotels.