Grady + Robinson is joining the dots between material culture and regenerative farming
“We are presenting something that doesn’t exist in material culture,” says Sara Grady, one half of Grady + Robinson. With co-founder Alice Robinson, they launched in 2021 with the aim of rethinking the leather supply system by connecting regenerative farming and leather.
The duo came together through a shared motivation, though they have followed different paths. Grady has a creative background, but a desire to work more closely with nature led her to agricultural non-profit Glynwood, in New York’s Hudson Valley. Meanwhile Robinson’s roots are in fashion, completing a Masters in womenswear at the Royal College of Art in 2018, then specialising in leather and accessories.
Having grown up in Shropshire, in a rural and farming community, Robinson was always conscious of sourcing. “My first instinct [when creating pieces] was to ask about the origins of the leather,” she says. Speaking to exactly that, her Masters show collection commented on the lack of traceability between rural agricultural communities and the design industry.
In tandem, Grady and Robinson each discovered the same thing: there was no opportunity for designers of leather goods to connect to the source of their materials. And while farmers are raising high welfare animals for meat, the hides of those animals become anonymous commodities. “We want to create leather that brings value and recognition to farms with exemplary practices,” says Grady.
They founded Grady + Robinson to create a new system for designers and for farmers. Firstly, they focus on sourcing from farms certified by Pasture for Life, the highest standard of 100% grass-fed agriculture. They organise the collection of hides with traceability to the source farms, and produce leather with a traditional vegetable tanning process in a range of finishes, resulting in material that is suited to a range of design applications. All of their production is entirely in the UK.
The farming and design communities have responded with resounding support and affirmation. Many have said they’ve been waiting for this system overhaul for a long while, keen for more accountability and ways of working that align with their values. For London Design Festival, Grady + Robinson shared a new narrative that brings together design, food, farming and leather, showing how this type of regenerative system can work across industries to achieve shared goals. “The material we are offering speaks to the lives of grazing animals; we wish to show that regenerative practices have myriad benefits – for landscapes, animals, ecosystems and people.”