Founded by: David and Lilian Chen
Launched in: 2016
Jilla is British designed Activewear that embodies versatile and timeless pieces, and specialises in seamless knitting. Comfort and feel are at the core of what we do, we design with a calming and soft colour palette to create refined Activewear. Our clothing is crafted with soft fabrics, such as bamboo and modal, to ensure all our pieces are effortless and feel like a second skin. Seamless construction is perfect for Jilla because we can achieve a whole new level of comfort, freedom of movement and flexibility.
Jilla was created out of a desire by Directors David and Lilian to have their own in-house brand after working with many suppliers for years as a wholesaler, they wanted to use the expertise of the factory in seamless knitting and present a new brand of quality to the market. Olivia, Bridget and Ellen lead the creative team from the UK office, who are both passionate about creating an Activewear brand which is functional and super comfortable, whilst trying to have a lower impact on the environment. For example, last year we introduced biodegradable packing for all new Jilla products.
In the UK, we like to engage with local communities and plan to work with more charity and social enterprises in the future. We recently supported the first ladies team tackling the Everest in the Alps challenge to raise money for research into paediatric brain tumours, a four day ascent on the the height of Everest on Skis, with Jilla outfits. We also work with Holy Trinity Hospice by donating our samples and seconds to their charity shops, and in the past we’ve supported Breast Awareness Month by donating £2 to Breast Cancer Now for every sports bra sold. Similarly, we previously worked with Girls in Sport, an initiative run by broadcaster Benny Bonsu to encourage women and girls to try out more sports in their area. We donated products to Benny when she tried out many different and unusual sports to inspire her followers, and we spoke at a school to girls aged 13-16 about the benefits of exercise on self esteem and confidence.
Number of factories: 1
Factory 1 – Zhejiang Shengzhou Xinmei Clothing Co. Ltd
- Function: Knit, dye and stitch
- Location: China
- Number of employees: 297
- Years working with Jilla: 30 (Directors David and Lilian own the factory)
- Policies, procedures & certifications: Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit; WRAP Gold Certificate of Compliance; Intertek Global Security Verification Record of Voluntary Participation; Labour & Social Security Credit Enterprise; Environmental Management System (EMS)
- Average hours / day: 8
- Average hourly pay: Not disclosed, stated Living Wage
- Number of visits / year: 2 minimum
- Sub-contractors: Yes – as little as possible
- Other information: There is a factory union who meet regularly
At the moment we use Oeko-Tex approved bamboo which has a lower environmental impact than other fibres because it is quick growing and yields the same volume as cotton from only 10% of the land area. We have also started using modal in a few styles. We would definitely love to expand our range of environmentally-friendly fibres but as we are limited to finding specific types of yarn for our seamless knitting machines, it can be quite hard to find good quality yarn which also has a really soft and comfortable hand-feel. We have experimented with recycled polyester but unfortunately the hand-feel and comfort wasn’t up to standard. We will keep researching this field because it is very important to us. Olivia will be visiting the trade fair in Shanghai in March to meet with yarn producers and look more into recycled and sustainable yarns. She will be researching natural dyes as this is an area we are really keen to explore.