Once upon a time, ‘Fashion Week’ or ‘fashion parades’ existed as a small-scale string of Parisian presentations, designed solely for moneyed clientele to view the freshest creations of couture houses during the early 20th century. Fast-forward to today and fashion shows are global spectacles; hosted in extravagantly glamorous locations exclusively for press, celebrities and influencers.
But for what purpose? Is it for the appreciation of art, a social media stunt, or a marketing mule to drive profit? We can’t help but think how unsustainable this month-long dance is, as the attention moves between the various fashion capitals of the world and millions are spent in the production and promotion of new product every six months (let us not forget the in-between seasons: Pre-Fall, Cruise, Resort, Couture and Menswear).
We can’t help but think how unsustainable this month-long dance is, as the attention moves between the various fashion capitals of the world
At the pinnacle of the fashion calendar, shouldn’t we instead be calling upon existing designers to take greater responsibility, whilst applauding the innovative approaches taken by new talent who are placing greater emphasis on sustainability? Pretty clothes and profit margins are not enough anymore. Shouldn’t fashion pages be exploring how design can be less wasteful, convey meaningful, transparent narratives and still remain successfully fashion-forward?
But seeing as they’re not, we took it upon ourselves to focus in on the industry players that are shaking things up for the better during fashion week and beyond…
CULT BRANDS TO KNOW
Though Elliss Solomon, founder of Elliss, believes the most sustainable way to shop is to buy vintage, she is well aware that’s not always possible for certain items like underwear. Having studied Womenswear Fashion Design at Central St Martins, Solomon launched her namesake brand in June of 2016 – with the intention of creating highly wearable, sustainable womenswear with as little waste as possible.
Based out of her East London studio, the diverse line of leotards to swimwear to fleece outerwear are all made under the same roof to offset the businesses carbon footprint. And she continues to pursue new and innovative ways to construct her garments – most recently utilising ECONYL (reclaimed nylon) and discarded fishnets to make her swimwear fabric. Organic cotton, hemp and bamboo are also bases for the line as they are breathable and kind to the skin and the planet. For Solomon, these are her guiding principles.
Le Kilt is a fashion brand that creates traditional classic pieces inspired by founder, Samantha McCoach’s Scottish heritage. Her Italian grandmother, a former kilt maker, worked on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile for over 40 years which instilled her deep understanding of true dedication to craft. Using small-scale manufacturers from across the UK, Le Kilt aims to act as a proponent of sustainability and to introduce traditional craftsmanship to a modern audience. She wishes to encourage people to comprehend the real value of their garments – the number of hands that have worked on them, the length of time taken to weave the fabric and where the raw materials originated. McCoach believes that only then might they stop feeling and being disposable. Pieces are typically made to order, using original techniques and materials to ensure a connection between the customer and the product.
Later this year, LeKilt prepares to take it’s sustainability journey even further, expanding to a childrenswear line that completely reworks scraps from the main-line collections launching in Liberty.
E.L.V. is an acronym for East London Vintage; with ‘East London’ known for it’s creativity and ‘Vintage’ to evoke a sense of sustainable responsibility. ELV’s mission is simple yet effective: to produce very little to no waste – taking existing, vintage denim jeans and transforming them into wearable, modern pieces which are coveted by the likes of influencers Camille Charrière and Sarah Harris. Firm environmental advocates, their ethos is to give new life to otherwise landfill-destined clothing. They further this ideal by offering a made-to-measure service from their East London studio in collaboration with Blackhorse Lane Atelier. Uniquely redesigned, each pair is made from at least two different pairs of vintage jeans meaning no two pairs will ever be the same in fit or colour combination. And what’s even better, by shopping through E.L.V. you’d be saving thousands of litres of water from purchasing a ‘new’ pair.
ONES TO WATCH AT LFW
Based in the heart of Peckham where he grew up, Richard Quinn is breaking new sustainable ground in the industry. Shortly after being awarded his Central Saint Martins MA scholarship by sustainable champion Stella McCartney, Quinn went on to win £45,000 through H&M’s Design Award allowing him to invest in a digital printing workshop. Now he produces all of his unique floral prints with 70% less water and 80% less energy than traditional means while eliminating waste by producing in exact quantities. And if that wasn’t enough, the Queen sat front row at his A/W18 show to later present to him the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design – skyrocketing his social media following and stockist reach (deservedly so). We can’t wait to see what comes next for this trail-blazer.
LFW Richard Quinn show 14:00 Tuesday 18th September
MOTHER OF PEARL
Amy Powney, Creative Director of Mother of Pearl, has channelled her off-grid upbringing into the core of the new sustainable ‘No Frills’ collection. From Uruguay to Peru, Powney wanted to trace the fibres right back to the cotton fields and sheep farms, while ensuring good worker welfare at the same time. Aiming to show the world that sustainable fashion can be executed with style, she has also landed on the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion committee to help mentor new designers – having had her vision for the brand, originally helmed by Maia Norman, shaped by pivotal documentaries The True Cost and Before The Flood.
Taking the same principles as supermarket ‘value’ labels – who use the same quality ingredients as leading competitor products but without aggressive marketing ploys or exotic packaging – the No Frills collection is a diffusion line of key Mother of Pearl styles. Featuring signature pie-crust collars, oversized coats and faux-pearl details, all pieces are responsibly crafted from a selection of GOTS certified organic cottons, silks and wools.
LFW Mother of Pearl presentation 14:30-16:30 Monday 17th September.
Irish talent Richard Malone, 26, began gaining traction in the industry ever since Dublin’s Brown Thomas bought his entire graduate collection. Through making bespoke pieces for generous female clients Malone was able to achieve the financial support needed to manifest his creative visions after graduating Central Saint Martins’ BA Fashion Womenswear in 2014. In 2017 he was shortlisted for the LVMH prize and subsequently commissioned by New York’s Museum of Modern Art to create a custom piece for their first fashion exhibition in over seventy years. Deriving inspiration from female empowerment and sculptor, whilst also being strongly opposed to mass production, Malone works closely with female artisans in Tamil Nadu, Southern India who hand-weave and naturally dye the fabrics.
LFW Richard Malone show 09:00 Friday 14th September
THE AWARD INITIATIVES
Redress is a global search for talent, and the world’s largest sustainable fashion design competition which held it’s live Grand Final runway show in Hong Kong last week. A pioneering environmental charity working to remove waste from fashion, the Redress Design Award has gone from strength to strength since its outset in 2011. With capital sponsorship from ‘Create HK’ the competition places Hong Kong firmly on the map as a sustainable fashion hub whilst proving that waste can be readily transformed. This year, 11 finalists created inspiring collections comprising of unconventional materials such as vintage kimonos, umbrellas and furniture offcuts.
Though the competition was fierce, Melbourne-based Tess Whitfort (pictured) was awarded First Prize with her daring, punk-inspired collection made from industry end-of-rolls and designed with complicated zero-waste patterns. She will soon design a capsule collection to retail for modern social impact business The R Collective – who provide a unique springboard for new designers to pursue sustainable design, with previous collections stocked in Lane Crawford and Barney’s New York.
CAMERA NAZIONALE DELLA MODA ITALIANA
The second edition of The CNMI Green Carpet Talent competition sees a range of judges of multidisciplinary backgrounds (including Edward Enninful, Ellie Goulding, Natalie Kingham and Livia Firth) challenge emerging designers worldwide to redefine sustainability in fashion, drawing on the Italian supply chain. The competition which is a division of The Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia, is supported by The Bicester Village Shopping Collection by Value Retail. Finalist submissions included innovations using rhubarb tanned leather, sequins laser cut from used plastic bottles and graphite up-cycled from the tech industry.
The selected finalists will attend The Green Carpet Fashion Awards, dubbed ‘The Oscars of Fashion’ by industry influencers, on 23rd September at La Scala which will round off Milan Fashion Week. Five designers have qualified for the final round of adjudication- these include Wrad, Behno, Davide Grillo, Gilberto Calzolari, and Teatum Jones. Wrad’s design features recycled graphite detailing on mint bamboo printed viscose and GOTS cotton manufactured in Italy. Davide Grillo’s laser cut cape is handprinted using pigment from onion skin, logwood, and walnut shell. Behno constructed their gown using reconstructed garment scraps and regenerated nylon ECONYL. Teatum
Jones’ is made from Lenzing Modal and embellished with recycled plastic water bottle sequins. Gilberto Calzolari’s dress is made from Brazilian jute coffee bags, lined with archive fabric and embroidered with lead-free Swarovski Advanced Elements crystals.
Oliver Lamoury | Keep Content CreatorIndex