New Ethical Brands at Berlin Fashion Week

Since it’s inception in 2007, Berlin Fashion Week has been a mecca for championing young designers and sustainable fashion. They run the Ethical Fashion Show and Green Showroom as a platform to promote some of the best ethical and green fashion brands. With an exhibition, a ‘Knowledge Lounge’ for green fashions, panel discussions and other activities, the Ethical Fashion Show Berlin is a genuine B2B fair for the professional fashion trade. Monday sees the start of Berlin Fashion Week 2015, which runs from 19th to 21st Jan. 165 international labels, including numerous new exhibitors, are set to present their progressive designs at these trade fairs, providing information about the future of sustainable production. That’s a lot of exciting new eco fashion!

Two fashion brands showing for the first time at the Ethical Fashion Show are Antiform and my friends at Here Today Here Tomorrow. Already well-loved in England, these proudly British brands are reaching out to Europe and the independent street style movement in Berlin sits happily alongside the high quality, responsibly sourced and produced collections.

Here Today Here Tomorrow is a fashion label that has been committed to social and environmental values from the very start. At the heart of their collections is the consideration of ethical production, beautiful materials and high quality contemporary design. Designed by the team in London, each product from the Autumn Winter collection is hand knitted by skilled Nepalese craftspeople, accredited by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

Antiform is a pioneering and experimental fashion label who is challenging the fashion world from the inside out. Each piece is hand crafted in their UK workshop by skilled makers, dedicated to using industry waste to create innovative fashion pieces combined with traditional craft.

Take a look at their collections below and say hello if you are heading to Berlin next week. The increase in brands to the ethical fashion showroom just goes to show that desire for, and interest in, ethical fashion business is increasing. It’s great that the event is being used to start a conversation too, with the inclusion of panel discussions and book launches, it’s about working together to build a better fashion future.

www.heretoday-heretomorrow.com
www.antiformonline.co.uk
Click here for a list of other exhibitors.

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Antiform

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

Here Today Here Tomorrow

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Ethical Leather Bags & Accessories by Yorkshire-Based Magpie Accessories

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Unwrapping my beautifully packaged new leather camera strap from Magpie Accessories, I was in awe of how soft the leather was at first touch. The violet camera strap was the perfect accessory to jazz up my SLR, attaching elegantly with a buckle fastening. Magpie Accessories manufacture high-quality leather bags and accessories from their studio in Yorkshire, England. They are a luxury British brand with ethics and sustainability at their heart.

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Established by Kathryn Sillince in 2008 with the help of a Princes Trust loan and Arts Council grant, Magpie Accessories officially launched in 2010. Kathryn started conceptualising the brand in 2006, when as a student of the London College of Fashion, she began researching leather suppliers and material processes for making leather goods. This can be a total minefield. The processing of leather is very labour intensive for people and planet, and it is difficult as a consumer to know which brands to trust with their leather sourcing. With this in mind, Kathryn wanted to go about it the right way, ensuring that every aspect of her business was as ethical as possible and building a brand that consumers could trust.

This led to a range of handcrafted goods produced in the finest locally sourced leather. Each leather hide comes from an organically fed animal and is a by-product of the food industry. The hides are sourced from local farms around the UK, not shipped halfway around the world, and each piece is handcrafted in the Yorkshire based studio. As the label grows they are committed to keeping manufacturing in the UK, supporting British industry and keeping their carbon footprint low. Magpie produce men’s and women’s bags, everything from clutches to travel bags, as well as laptop and smartphone sleeves, guitar straps, camera straps, passport holders and glasses cases. They pride themselves on the ability to work directly with customers and offer personalised embossing on many of their products.

In addition to using the best quality leathers, the linings of all products are made with organic fair trade cottons, using water-based eco-friendly inks for prints. All orders are beautifully gift-wrapped in eco-paper. I thoroughly enjoyed trying out my camera strap. Not only does it look smart and sophisticated, but it is made to the highest quality and feels entirely safe and secure at holding my camera. In addition to the plain straps, they offer fun character designs including a ‘Gerald Giraffe’ and ‘Finlay Frog’. I’ve definitely got my eye on their glorious messenger bags too, perfect for work and play.

You can get your own handcrafted leather loveliness online at www.magpieaccessories.com or at one of their stockists.

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Mary’s Kinky Knickers British Manufacturing on Mary’s Bottom Line

The three part series Mary’s Bottom Line was interesting for many reasons. For one, who would ever expect plain-spoken Mary Portas to cry? She nearly made me cry – but it was actually forever unemployed father of one Andrew who managed to push me over the edge. The twenty year old had never worked, turned up to the interview in a borrowed suit that was far too big for him, genuinely seemed to want a better life for his son, and turned out to be a natural whiz on the sewing machine. The whole series was inspirational, depressing, frustrating and heartening all rolled into one.

If you didn’t watch it, the channel four series saw retail guru Mary Portas try to ‘bring back UK manufacturing’ (her words) by starting a British-made underwear brand – Kinky Knickers. At one point, clothes and textiles manufacturing was the fifth largest employer in the UK, with factories centred in the Midlands, Leeds and London suburbs. British employment in the industry slumped from nearly half a million in the 1980s to less than 140,000 by 2005 as retailers chose to source from overseas where production costs were significantly cheaper. Mary cherry-picked Middleton, Greater Manchester for her new knicker factory. Middleton was a centre for silk production in the 18th Century, before developing into a cotton spinning town in the mid 19th Century. These days the industry has all but gone, leaving high rates of unemployment.

So along comes Mary to save the day! She hires a team of young unemployed local people, most of which have never touched a sewing machine in their lives, and re-opens an old factory which is managed by the lovely Lynn. The knickers had to be 100% British and Mary had difficulty tracking down the stretch lace as British manufactured. “Was it ever in England?” she asks, referring to lace production. How much research did she do exactly?

In reading reports/articles/blog posts about the programme online it is clear that criticism of the show falls into two camps. Firstly I must say I think Mary has done something really great; she’s brought the issue to public attention and given some lovely people employment. I do hope Kinky Knickers continues to grow and sell and thrive. But it was Mary’s words that she wanted to ‘bring back UK manufacturing’ that ruffled a few feathers in the ethical fashion community. Yes British manufacturing has fallen significantly in the last thirty years, but it is still here in some areas albeit not on TV. LuvaHuva and whomadeyourpants? are just two brands specifically making lingerie in the UK although granted their raw materials don’t claim to be sourced solely from Britain. They have both been founded by inspirational women and grown organically after a huge amount of hard work. You can see why it’s frustrating for some that Mary Portas can swan in with Kinky Knickers and immediately get orders from the likes of Boots, Liberty, John Lewis and ASOS.

For the mainstream media however, it was the price of the knickers that got people talking. At £10 a pair, many people see this as too expensive, despite Mary’s claims that she has made it affordable to all. I don’t know how much Primark’s knickers cost and I wouldn’t wear them if you paid me, but I do know you can get three very pretty knickers from Topshop for a tenner. This doesn’t mean though, that a tenner for a pair of knickers is expensive. Even at M&S, these very simple every knickers cost £12.50 for one, and if you visit luxury lingerie brand La Perla you will pay £215 for these beautiful but teeny briefs.

If you break it down to basic product costing, the La Perla pants are clearly not worth £215, but similarly you don’t get something for nothing. Sadly when it comes to value fashion that seems to be exactly what people do expect. What did you think of the show?

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