Behind the Brand: Komodo

Let me set the scene: it is 1988, acid house is all the rage and British youth culture is vibrant and colourful. Mark Bloom, aka Joe Komodo, travelled around the world with his gang of mates, discovering news cultures, flavours and colours. Bringing this inspiration back to the UK, Mark Bloom launched ethical fashion brand Komodo.

By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert. 

"My background was accidental good fortune really," says Mark. "I left school with no direction, lousy grades and no desire for more education. I wanted to go and visit friends in Asia and to meet my dad's conditions, I had to get a job in Hong Kong. The job I found happened to be in the garment trade and that gave me a grounding that came in very handy when I started the biz." But that wasn't until later - Mark spent some additional time discovering the world.

"After working in Hong Kong, I spent another two years travelling and doing various jobs to keep going -  by the time i got home I felt like I'd done a course on globetrotting!" His travels inspired Mark to launch an apparel brand that puts sustainability first - from re-working old items, he has moved on to working with planet-conscious materials such as organic cotton, Tencel, linen, bamboo and hemp, and championing charities like the Sumatran Orangutan Society and the Tibet Relief Fund.

Mark Bloom Komodo
Starting a fashion brand came organically to Mark, and his beginnings were led by a number of signs: "I had already started in the business, my brand was Yakit Rakit. But in the summer of 1988 I received a box of colours from Bali that were so dynamic that they led me straight to the travel agent and we took the first flight available to get down there. We were in the early days of the acid house revolution, my Yak was feeling a bit shaggy and we now had dragon energy, so I changed the name to Komodo - after the big mama who once tried to eat me!"
Komodo Weave Women's jacket
In the course of building his brand, Mark met his share of challenges. "There are too many to mention! You think you are running a fashion design brand, and then you find out that the big winds that blow you off course are global events. We have made most of our clothes in Bali and Nepal, and also India and China. So we've faced currency crashes, political revolutions, earthquakes, tsunamis, a royal massacre, various viruses, and don't even get me started on Brexit!" In tune with what many other entrepreneurs have said, Mark concludes that "You need to be a jack of all trades to survive in this game."
Mark Bloom Komodo
But Komodo is surviving. Holding on as the original ethical fashion label, the company has withstood decades of wildly changing attitudes towards sustainable fashion: from being very niche in its beginnings to sustainable style being on everyone's lips in the current fashion climate. Mark has noted that on his end, running the company has changed. "In the old days, it was more varied, more gallivanting around the world - I could have ended up almost anywhere. These days I've slowed down quite a bit - sunny Primrose Hill is where you'll find me most of the time, pottering about in my office." He is also quick to acknowledge the contribution of his employees: "The Komodo team really do all the hard work and I just swan about with a bag of spanners and pockets full of stardust."
Komodo Milo organic cotton men's jacket

Loved by countless fans around the world, Komodo has become synonymous with ethical fashion for many people. When it comes to his ideal client, Mark has someone very specific in mind: "I'd say it would have to be Banksy. He'd surely look great in our gear, and if he didn't, well, you'd never know!"  








By Sascha Camilli


About Sascha

Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her or read her newsletter Kind of Wild. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

All images by Komodo.

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