Bali-based jewellery brand Ananda Soul Creations says its new collection ‘is all about honouring yourself and your magnificence’. The ethically sourced Puja range includes the Embace Your Power amethyst crystal ring, Shine Your Beauty earrings and Eternal Love aquamarine necklace with matching earrings, bangle, bracelet and ring.
The pieces are made from crystals set within 22kt gold vermeil and recycled silver, crafted by Balinese artisans and blessed in a ceremony, with inspiration drawn from spiritual practices and yogic philosophy. Ananda Soul Creations donates ten per cent of every item sold to the Safe Childhoods Foundation, which tackles child trafficking.
The beginnings of Fair Trade womenswear brand Nomads Clothing reach back two decades, when its owners Duncan and Vicky met on a backpacking trip to India. The prints and designs they saw in the craft markets there inspired the range, which they describe as ‘soft feminine styles using unique prints and pretty details; casual comfortable clothing for everyday, holiday and relaxed weekend wear’.
While world travel provides a clear source of inspiration, the Nomads design team has adapted its offering to meet the demands of a mainstream audience. “Some people still may have an idea that because it’s ethical, it’s very ethnic and too hippie for them, but our styles have changed over the years to include much more contemporary designs that are easy to wear and to mix and match with plain pieces,” says Duncan and Vicky.
The brand is a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and its organic clothing range is certified by Global Organic Textile Standards. So is the sustainability of a product more important than its design, or vice versa? “That’s a difficult question to answer,” says the team. “Because, without a wearable design that is comfortable and flattering, we haven’t got a good product, so the design is crucial.
“However, we are using more and more organic cotton which we love, and we will be increasing the number of styles in sustainable products in the future, so this is also important to us.”
The sustainability and ethics of a garment is growing in importance to consumers as well, suggest Duncan and Vicky. “Many of our customers are supporters of Fair Trade and ethical shopping. Although there may be a large percentage of people who don’t always think about this when they are shopping, if they have the option to buy a product which they know has been made without compromising the lives of people, then that is preferred over child labour.
“There is more education in schools today about Fair Trade and ethical goods, so this is more than likely to be an ongoing concern and consideration for consumers today and in the future.”
The collection features a combination of elegant basics and easy-to-wear but eye-catching patterns, with scarves, jewellery and sarongs adding a global edge worthy of teaming with either a backpack or a clutch bag – with the added bonus of an affordable price tag.
Old water hoses might not seem like the most eye-catching thing in a fire station, but to Elvis & Kresse they are the raw materials for some stunning bags and accessories. As soon as designer Elvis – also a qualified bike mechanic and an ocean master yachtsman – clapped eyes on decommissioned London Fire Brigade hoses destined for landfill after up to 25 years’ use he embarked upon a rescue mission by buying a series of sewing machines and teaching himself to sew. While the products are now made in Elvis & Kresse’s own sites in the UK and Istanbul the fire hose remains the staple of the brand.
“There was only one origin: the hose,” explains co-founder Kresse. “Elvis & Kresse are inspired by problems. Before we fell in love with the hose it was going to landfill; Elvis & Kresse was established purely to rescue this stunning material.
“We are often called backward designers, we start with a problem and find a solution. We start with a material and find the best way to transform it into something we hope you will love as much as we do. In 2005 we first met the London Fire Brigade and took responsibility for their decommissioned hoses. It has been a labour of love since then.”
It’s not an easy material to work with and the team’s first sewing machines weren’t strong enough for the task. “It was impossible in the beginning, but we found ways to transform it into a textile,” says Kresse. “We developed or modified machines to work with it.”
The Elvis & Kresse fire hose collection includes a range of bags for men and women, belts, key rings, cufflinks, wallets and device cases. For Kresse, the sustainability and design of a product ‘are actually very different but completely intertwined’. “If a design isn’t sustainable then there is no point in making it or selling it but a poorly designed product, despite ethical and environmental sustainability, would also be pointless,” she says.
Design alone cannot change the world, she adds. “We have all of the technologies, ideas, and talent to create a sustainable, socially equitable world, but bringing it about can’t be achieved by a single discipline. We all need to work together. We all need to contribute. Designers have to choose if they want to help or hinder; hopefully we will come to judge successful design by how much it contributes to a better world.”
Currently, however, ‘there are a lot of barriers to sustainable fashion’, she says. “Lazy design. A race to the floor in terms of price. Glorification of fast fashion – but they are falling. Unsustainable fashion may die a long, slow death, but it is already dying.”
Decommissioned fire hoses are not the only upcycled material used by Elvis & Kresse; the brand also offers made-to-measure leather rugs constructed from the offcuts of British leathercraft manufacturers, candlesticks made from fire hose couplings, laptop cases sporting coffee sack exteriors and a soft briefcase made using printing press blankets. The linings of Elvis & Kresse bags are also made from waste military-grade parachute silk.
“The range is always increasing, there is no shortage of waste, no shortage of inspiring materials that we feel compelled to rescue,” says Kresse.
The story of an item is attractive to consumers but it has to be truthful, she adds. “Transparent, honest and genuine narratives are increasingly important. The story has to be true and complete, particularly with luxury where you are gaining the trust of an individual.”
Elvis & Kresse also donates up to 50 per cent of its profits to charities and projects appropriate to the materials it uses, for instance the Fire Fighters Charity has received support from the profits of the fire hose range, continuing the story of each product.
Fashion Revolution Day will return on April 24th 2015, marking the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 people and injured over 2,500. The international event will create awareness of the real people that work in the fashion supply chain by asking the question #whomademyclothes.
Blogger Susie Lau, model Lily Cole, Eco Age founder Livia Firth and writer and broadcaster Lucy Siegle are some of the celebs expected to support the campaign for transparency from clothing manufacturers, by calling on fashionistas to take a selfie showing the label of their clothing and to send it to the relevant brand via social media using the #whomademyclothes hashtag.
“When everything in the fashion industry is only focused on making a profit, human rights, the environment and worker’s rights get lost,” says Carry Somers, Fashion Revolution co-founder.
“This has got to stop and we plan to mobilise people around the world to ask questions. Find out. Do something.
“Buying is only the last step in a long journey involving hundreds of people: the invisible workforce behind the clothes we wear. We no longer know the people who made our clothes so therefore it is easy to turn a blind eye and as a result, millions of people are suffering, even dying.”
Orsola de Castro, co-founder adds: “We believe knowing who made our clothes is the first step in transforming the fashion industry. Knowing who made our clothes requires transparency, and this implies openness, honesty, communication and accountability.
“It’s about re-connecting broken links and celebrating the relationship between shoppers and the people who make our clothes, shoes, accessories and jewellery – all the things we call fashion.”
Events are planned in 66 countries. For events in your area please visit www.fashionrevolution.org/get-involved/countries and keep up with the campaign via www.facebook.com/fashionrevolution.org and @Fash_Rev on Twitter.
Five Scottish designers have been awarded funding to develop their sustainable fashion and apparel ideas, which will aid the circular economy.
The Scottish Textile and Leather Association’s annual conference, held last week, saw Allenomis, Diggory Brown, Risotto, Route Clothing and Sword Maclean named the winning recipients of Zero Waste Scotland’s circular economy fund for textile and apparel designers.
Allenomis has designed a capsule womenswear collection with transformable, durable garments with zero-waste patterns and using recycled or waste materials. The luxury collection includes an accessory that can be used as a scarf, hood or bag.
Diggory Brown won support for its workwear garments and accessories made of Yarnover wool, a by-product from Uist Wool’s spinning mill, while Sword Maclean uses Scottish deer skin, a by-product of deer management that would otherwise go to waste.
Risotto has developed the a closed loop production system for garments which features a recyclable polyester fabric and an incentive scheme for customers to return goods after use. In addition to a zero-waste, natural fibre cap and jacket pattern, Route Clothing has trialled a new system for its cycling clothing where customers can return products for repair or recycling.
“The five successful designers have submitted unique and exciting suggestions for more sustainable fashion, which uses resources in a much smarter way,” says Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland.
“Scotland’s textile industry has a long and proud history. We know from recent research that the industry is well placed to make the most of the transition to a circular economy, but that there are currently no truly circular textiles products or services in Scotland.
“Zero Waste Scotland is on hand to help the industry to take advantage of the opportunities that a circular economy offers, and this funding aims to encourage designers to do just this.”
WeWood, known for its wooden watches, has unveiled a new range of sunglasses (£70 to £89) made from cotton. Strengthened with natural cellulose and made without fossil fuels, the new shades are designed to be adjustable to fit any facial shape.
“We’ve had a hugely positive reception to our eco-friendly wooden watches which has inspired us to continue to create innovative new products out of natural materials,” says Matt Cromie, UK director of WeWood. “The result of our efforts is the fantastic new range of cotton eyewear that marries environmental sustainability with up-to-the-minute street style.”
The sunglass frames are handcrafted and are available in a number of styles – The Crater, The Crux, The Lyra and The Xipe – and are offered with options including metal finishing, lens filter, lens colour and polarisation.
WeWood also plants a tree for every watch and pair of shades it sells, with a goal of growing a million new seedlings by 2020.
Eco Chic has released a line of foldable bags, designed to cut the number of disposable carrier bags and make shopping a little greener.
The collection comprises an expandable backpack that can be compacted into a small pouch when not needed, a 30-litre capacity cabin-approved expandable holdall, a foldable shopper for up to 5kg of groceries and an expanding nappy bag. Each feature smart patterns, original and copyrighted in London, including florals, owls, Scotty dogs, ponies, birds and polka dots.
“The plastic bag figures are mind boggling and illustrate the serious need to take action, now. Eco Chic is driven by a desire to help the world move away from plastic bags and choose sustainable options,” says Austin Lee, design director at Faye UK.
“Of course, we recognise that fashion is a serious factor which is why we shine the spotlight not just on environmental credentials, but also on style, colour, functionality, diversity and up-to-the-minute designs.”
Eco Chic bags are made of durable and waterproof nylon and come with a six-month manufacturer’s guarantee.