My latest post for Oxfam Fashion can be found here: Ethical Fashion at Ecoluxe London
London Fashion Week ran from 17th-22nd Feb and was home to the biannual ethical and sustainable fashion exhibit Estethica, sponsored by Monsoon for the tenth season. Fourteen brands were present, I’m sure I will feature them all at some point over the coming weeks but here are two of my highlights for AW12.
I loved speaking to Ada about her AW collection. She had a narrative for each and every piece, and as a geography researcher myself, it was interesting that much of that narrative was based on the earth and conservation of the natural world. Her collection is called Simia Minerals, meaning ape of the mineral (an analogy of the human race). A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Ada describes her new season influences as “geology, primates and conflict.”
Ada’s strong signature silhouettes are reworked through a geological lense, imaging the structure of metals at the atomic level and layers of the earth from an archaeological yet modern perspective. The collection expresses the chaos and conflict that arises from the exploitation of the earth for our material gain, though glamorous evening dresses and technically perfect jackets and coats. A statement piece is the tailcoat, inspired by the Silver Back Male Gorilla and featuring a swathe of sustainably sourced human hair. Fabrics used in the collection include fairtrade organic velvet, English woven wools, eel skin and upcycled Chanel tweed.
Luxury, stunningly beautiful lingerie that is ethical too, what’s not to love? I hadn’t come across Charini before attending LFW so it was fab to have a nose at the only lingerie label at Estethica. Designed by Sri Lankan born Charini Suriyage, the label debuted last year after Charini developed it alongside studying for her MA at London College of Fashion.
Charini is launching two ranges this year, the ‘Marry Me’ bridal range using ivory shades and elegant styling and ‘Range X’, a bolder collection using classic black and bronze and faux leather. Charini’s concept for both ranges was her ‘no waste’ policy where upcycled elastics became the basic element of her collection. Using hand woven silks, lace and luxurious satin sourced from artisan communities in Sri Lanka both ranges remain true to the ethical heart of the brand. She refrains from using metal or harmful dying processes in her products too. Sexy lingerie, using traditional manufacturing processes, makes Charini very special indeed.
We are currently in the middle of LFW AW12 season, and yesterday I went up for a one day whistle stop tour. It was my second season at LFW and I was keen to see as much as I could in one day, being unable to take any more time off work.
I didn’t attend any of the shows, but I did go round the exhibition, where brands showcase their latest designs, and concentrated my attention on Estethica, the ethical/sustainable fashion showcase. Later in the afternoon I attended the Ecoluxe London Showrooms which also popped up for LFW. Featuring a collection of smaller ethical and sustainable fashion, accessories and jewellery ranges, Ecoluxe ran for two days by invitation. I will be writing up a review of Ecoluxe for Oxfam in the coming days.
Estethica launched at LFW in 2006 and has been sponsored by Monsoon for the last 10 seasons. The exhibition space for Estethica felt a bit cramped (or maybe cosy?) but in my opinion was the most interesting part of the whole LFW exhibition space. The following designers showcased at Estethica and I will be focusing on some of their collections in future blog posts:
The North Circular
Reclaim to Wear
Victim Fashion Street
Great to catch up with brands I’ve seen before and to have the opportunity to see new ones like lingerie label Charini. If you haven’t read the Estethica publication yet, you can find it online.
This lovely fashion film by London based photographer Claire Pepper looks at how we use natural resources, and their consumption and destruction. Featuring designers including People Tree, Made, Hattie Rickards and Henrietta Ludgate, all of the clothes used in the film are ethically sourced or vintage finds. Featuring new face Hana Hucinova at Elite London, and shot in an old Victorian school building in East London, ‘And Then it was Gone’ is a fresh, delicate, beautiful and original look at sustainable fashion and what lies behind it.
The film was premiered at the Good Fashion Show last Saturday, 18th Feb. 2012
Yesterday we had an Oxfam fashion bloggers meet up at their PR agency in London. It was a great chance to meet the other Oxfam fashion bloggers and discuss ideas and features for the fashion blog. I am a bit different in that I don’t keep a personal style blog – my personal blog here is more academically research related or linked to ethical fashion and consumption, and the ClothesUK blog is general fashion news and style advice. The other bloggers do lots of exciting posts about upcycling and charity shop finds. Having said that, I did recently have a go at making a machine embroidered Valentine’s Day card for a blog post for tinygreenmom.com.
It is always nice to get the sewing machine out when I have time and if you are the creative sewing sort you should be aware of Oxfam’s growing haberdashery range. I got to see some of the new spring products at yesterday’s meeting which you can see in the photograph. For Christmas I actually got a couple of bits from Oxfam, a retro themed tin of pins, a collection of patchwork fabric swatches and a cute needle book. You can delve into Oxfam’s haberdashery range online or in stores. They have needle books, bags of buttons, transfers, applique patches and more.
The University of Southampton ran a Multi-Disciplinary Research Week from 6th to 10th February 2012. The opening lecture was of particular interest to me, being titled ‘Sustainable Consumption: Oxymoron or Opportunity?’ and led by Dr Peter White, Director of Global Sustainability at Procter & Gamble. Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he helped to found P&G’s Sustainable Development organisation, and created and led their Sustainability Leadership Council – the global, business-wide group responsible for developing and delivering their Sustainability Strategy and Goals.
The talk provided an overview of key sustainability issues, why and how P&G are addressing these issues into their business plan and what the company has achieved to date. Let’s not forget just how large P&G are – they own 50 Leadership Brands, including Olay, Pantene, Ariel, Pringles and Pampers to name just a few. The company’s rather terrifying aim is to reach 5 billion consumers by 2015, that’s 5 in 7 of the global population.
Our current level of consumption is equal to 1.5 planet’s worth of resources. It is clear to me, and also P&G it seems, that this is not sustainable. White rattled off plenty of stats – by 2050 70% of the population will be living in urban areas, middle classes will triple by 2030 and shifting demographics means that the population is aging. White highlights the need for sustainability to be built into business strategy, with issues of sustainability being addressed at both the production and consumption end. If a sustainable future requires innovation or abstinence, P&G are opting for the former.
P&G’s goals for 2007 to 2012 are to make a 20% reduction in energy consumption, CO2 emissions, disposed waste (goal reached) and water consumption (goal reached) in their facilities and since 2002 they have already halved these impacts, which I think you would agree is a good effort. Some of their sustainable innovation products include using plant-based materials to make plastic bottles (sugarcane to make bio-PE) and changes to packaging which increases the number of units that can be placed on a truck. They have also worked out ways to recycle their industrial waste to be useful in another industry. The oil left over from Pringles crisps for example, can be used to produce biofuel.
The key point emphasised by White, was that despite P&G working on all of these areas of sustainability, they didn’t market their products as ‘green’ because to consumers ‘green’ equals lowly quality or greater expense. In this way, consumers will not spend more on greener products, in essence, they are not prepared to make ‘trade-offs’.
P&G are also showing a commitment to social responsibility as they have developed a quite extraordinary product that provides safe drinking water in a sachet. Demonstrated in the lecture, P&G chemists have developed sachets which can be added to any water in the world to make it safe to drink. As a non-profit venture, they have given it out to charities such as the Red Cross for disaster relief and provided 4bn litres since 2003. Of course a growing population throws up a whole host of other issues (such as providing more consumers for P&G’s products).
The lecture drew on the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s Vision 2050, which is worth having a look at online. P&G also have a wealth of information available online about their own CSR, as I have just mentioned a handful of points here.