Today we’re making our green glittery way to London Fashion Week to see what this season’s Estethica designers are up to.
News on Flavia La Rocca, Katie Jones, Louise De Testa, Wool and the Gang, Auria, Bottletop, Charini, Christopher Raeburn, Eden Diodati, Mich Dulce x Zacarias, Pachacuti and Termite coming soon!
We’re also popping over to Ecoluxe London, so double ethical fashion bang for your buck.
London Fashion Week SS15 is around the corner, celebrating an industry that moves so fast we’re already six months ahead. Meanwhile, the Soil Association is asking us to slow down for Organic Fashion and Textiles Week, a dedicated event within the organisation’s Organic September campaign held to coincide with London Fashion Week – but with a greater emphasis on how our clothes are made rather than on their designer label.
The national Organic Fashion and Textiles Week event, held from September 12th to 16th, will feature events, talks, competitions and money-off promotions with a number of fashion brands taking part. The emphasis, like all of Organic September, is how consumers can make a big difference through small changes, such as buying clothes made using organic fibres.
“We’re holding Organic Fashion and Textiles Week to celebrate the amazing work our textiles and fashion licensees do and to raise awareness of the work that goes into making organic clothing and textiles – from growing the cotton right the way through the supply chain to the finished product,” explains Emma Reinhold, trade relations manager at the Soil Association.
The organic cotton trade is a different kettle of fish to the standard route to market; according to Reinhold it gives control to farmers, not GM companies, eliminates hazardous synthetic pesticides, helps farmers feed their families, saves water and combats climate change. So why doesn’t everyone do it?
“Fashion has become faster. Most fashion buyers take a short-term view on everything,” says Safia Minney MBE, CEO of People Tree, one of the brands taking part in Organic Fashion and Textiles Week and the first clothing range to meet the Global Organic Textile Standard certified by the Soil Association.
“Farmers need support for transition from non-organic to organic, which takes about seven years. During the transition the yield can drop.”
Minney always intended to place organic cotton and wool at the heart of People Tree. “When I started 20 years ago I travelled around Zimbabwe and looked at how we could work with smallholder farmers whose cotton was organic as they could not afford any pesticides,” she explains. “However, all the cotton mills were owned by wealthy white industrialists who would not separate the organic cotton with the normal. It was clear that you needed to create a market demand to get them a better price and support sustainable agriculture.”
The environmental and social impacts of organic agriculture go hand in hand. “It protects the planet by sequestering 1.5 tons of CO2 into the soil each year per acre [and] reduces the use of unsustainable resources, like oil, the main ingredient used in fertiliser,” says Minney.
“Instead, organic farmers use natural pesticides made from chilli, neem, garlic and soap to control pests, instead of expensive and harmful chemicals. Using natural pesticides protects both people and the environment from chemicals, reduces the pollution of the water, air and soil, and also saves the farmers up to 3,000 rupees [£30] per acre.”
There are also no allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemicals that are passed on to the customers who wear the garments, she adds.
Minney explains that there is a 30 per cent Fair Trade and organic premium paid on People Tree’s cotton, which is used for clean water projects, micro-finance and schools, while the ability to grow crops such as millet, tomatoes and aubergines alongside the cotton provides food and additional income.
Reinhold says she hopes organic textiles will become more mainstream as shoppers continue to demand transparency. “As more consumers become aware of how their clothes are made, we hope they will start questioning the manufacturing process. With more demand for organic cotton, we hope retailers will take notice and change their policies.”
Minney says that the Rana Plaza disaster has made more people think about how their clothes are made and agrees that higher consumer demand for organic fabric will result in greater availability. However, it is fast fashion’s reliance on depleted resources that will drive change.
“We are living beyond our resources. The fast fashion industry is completely unsustainable,” she comments. “With a growing world population, we need to be adding more value by growing organically, by hand-making and hand-crafting textiles and fashion with care. We need to respect our clothes and not treat them as a disposable commodity.
“I think we are moving into a revolution similar to 20 years ago with the slow food movement, bringing more sustainable and producer-friendly practice into the fashion industry.”
This revolution may be happening under our noses: the 2013 Organic Cotton Report from Textile Exchange listed H&M, C&A, Puma, Nike and Decathlon as the world’s top five user of organic cotton by volume. With these big high-street names taking the organic industry more seriously, others may follow.
Lily Lolo will release two new limited edition eye shadow palettes on September 16th, each with a hint of autumn.
The eight shades in the Enchanted Palette (£19.99) offers ‘a modern twist on a classic smoky eye’, while the Laid Bare Palette (£19.99) takes a more natural turn for daytime with some darker shades to vamp things up a bit.
The eye colours use natural ingredients including sea holly extract with anti-ageing properties, antioxidant pomegranate oil and antibacterial manuka oil.
The Soil Association is currently celebrating Organic September, featuring Organic Beauty Week from September 8th to 15th.
Glossybox has collaborated with the group to create an organic edit of beauty treats worth £35, available for a steal at £15.
The limited edition Organic Beauty Glossybox includes Geranium, Lavender and Peppermint Body Wash from Bamford, Odylique Gentle Herb Shampoo, Neal’s Yard Remedies Peach Lip Gloss, Organic Rose Moisturiser from Essential Care and Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser with an organic muslin facecloth from Pai.
The edit is available from September 8th.
German herbal hair colour brand Khadi is now available in the UK and Ireland, online and from selected health food stores and independent pharmacies.
The Khadi range (from £7.90 to £8.90) comprises eight colours – all based on traditional Ayurvedic formulations – and an intensive conditioner.
Sustainable design, be it fashion, home décor, packaging, electronics or anything else, has many guises. There is the unapologetically crunchy: the steampunk-esque hacked tech, upcycled furniture or refashioned clothes that wear their hearts on their sleeves. Then there is efficient design: gadgets that are streamlined to be transported more easily or to have a longer battery life, multipurpose furniture or harder-working clothes. There is also simply transposing ‘traditional’ materials or supply chains for those using renewable or recycled materials, with no-one being able to tell the difference.
Then there is the designer’s design: produced ethically and with a clear environmental or social message, and, importantly, boasting a striking visual aesthetic. Think Anya Hindmarch’s ‘I’m Not a Plastic Bag’ (described by the BBC in 2007 as ‘the must-have bag of the season [that] costs a fiver’) or Katherine Hamnett’s slogan T-shirts (most recently calling to ‘Save the Bees – Sack Paterson’).
Swedish fashion brand Uniforms for the Dedicated has recently joined this club with its Rag Bag, a strong biodegradable plastic carrier bag that carries the message ‘Buy Something New’ on one side and, when turned inside out, ‘Donate Something Old’, with the purpose of encouraging shoppers to donate an old garment for every new item they buy. The bag is pre-addressed and postage pre-paid, making it as easy as possible for consumers to divert both old clothes and carrier bags from landfill. With a bold monochrome design reminiscent of Katherine Hamnett’s tees, there’s no hint of hippyishness but its environmental message is strong.
Another design house, Hu2 Design, was founded by designer Antoine Tesquier, because he wanted to ‘create a sustainable brand that promoted ‘better living’ through protection of the environment’, explains Hu2 Design’s community manager Jackie Attwood, who adds that prior to Hu2 Design’s birth, Tesquier had once floated down a river in London dressed as polar bear to raise awareness for climate change. “In light of this, it was pretty natural when he started the brand that his art and designs were innovative and sustainable eco-products, that have messages that inspired positive changes for our planet,” she notes.
Among ethically produced typographic wall decals, art prints and T-shirts – with more fashion on the way – are light switch stickers designed to encourage people to turn off the light as they leave a room. The eco-reminders feature clear visual messages, including CO2-emitting power stations, polar bears balanced on melting ice caps and convoluted hamster wheels, to remind users of how much goes into the flicking of a switch. The products are aimed specifically university students and staff, with Hu2 Design partnering with USA-based Green Impact Campaign, a non-profit that brings student volunteers and small businesses together to reduce carbon emissions, on the project.
“We targeted universities, as we thought it would be an amazing place to provide eco-reminders. If these students begin to think about the environment and CO2 naturally in everyday life, they will as they start their future teaching and their businesses,” explains Attwood.
“This is also a place where they meet the older generations, the experts and scientists, that have probably seen climate change happen. Together the two can create the sustainable solutions for problems that affect us all; not just see it as something that is happening, but aim to resolve it too.
“The younger age group also have the power to influence and inspire each other quickly around the world – they’re the social media generation. They respond well to eco-reminders – it’s not a textbook or a lecture, it’s just a picture that just makes you think ‘Oh yeah!’ *flick*.”
The idea of ‘just a picture’ spreading a socially conscious message is key for Do the Green Thing, with the motto ‘Creativity v Climate Change’. In addition to films and podcasts, the organisation invites designers, illustrators, artists and photographers to submit a design for a weekly poster release, sold to raise funds for Do the Green Thing. Using aesthetics to promote environmental causes such as eating less meat and taking fewer flights, the posters are intended to be framed and displayed.
So can design change the world? According to Antoine Tesquier: “Design can certainly help us to reach a better level of comfort, but it is people who change the world. Now, can design change people’s mind?”
Milton Gleser, designer of the iconic ‘I ♥ NY’ logo, hopes so. He has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of climate change using a simple green and black badge design and the message ‘It’s Not Warming, It’s Dying.’ The slogan has been criticised – largely because it is the human race, rather than the planet, that is in grave danger from climate change – but the simplicity of the design itself has generally been praised. Time will tell if it will change people’s minds in the same way that New York won people’s hearts.
Ring jewellers, located in Brighton’s Lanes, has received Fairtrade gold accreditation, ensuring miners earn a fair price for their product.
The Fairtrade scheme also pays an additional premium for investment in medical care, education or environmental projects to improve the futures of miners’ families and local communities. Certified suppliers must also adhere to strict working conditions and rules around chemical handling standards, women’s rights, child labour standards and environmental responsibility.
“We are really excited to receive our official accreditation from the Fairtrade gold foundation,” says Ring.
“Since Ring jewellers opened almost nine years ago we have been working hard to educate customers about our jewellery remodelling service where gold is recycled and Fairtrade gold is another way we can create stunning bespoke jewellery in a responsible way.”