Et Moda Issue No. 1 25 Sept 2011 ÂŁ3
the new face of ethical fashion
A hearty welcome to you all! Let me thank you for picking up a copy of the very first issue of Et Moda.
ON OUR COVER...
Odd hours of working. Crazy stressing over the details. Frenzied trips to London. Long discussions and research sessions to search and sieve through all the information gathered. Editing, re-editing and re-re-editing of every article written, some of which is published here, some not. And lots and lots cups of coffee. That sums up the journey to the time of the issue going to print. But meeting the inspiring ladies featured in the issue made up for all that, and how! As this is the first time you are looking at Et Moda, and hopefully not the last, let me tell you a little about it. It aims to introduce the fashion-loving consumer to the stylish and smart side of ethical fashion. The time when ethical fashion equalled something drab and dreary is long past. Ethical fashion brands aren’t as main-stream as others yet, it is still quite an “underground” movement. Et Moda strives to get you introduced to these lovely people.
Image Courtesy: Isla London
All images in the magazine are provided by the interviewees or used for representative purposes only. No copyright infringement intended.
For further details and contacting the magazine, write to
If you love fashion, and like to stand out from the crowd with your own distinct style, Et Moda is for you. If you like to be your own fashion decision maker, and not be dictated to, Et Moda is for you. If you care about the environment, and wonder what will happen in the future if we continue consuming the way we do, Et Moda is for you. As you’ll see in the pages ahead, ethical fashion designers take inspiration from various sources and come up with some fresh, contemporary designs which are drool-worthy! From beachwear to evening wear, these designers have found innovative ways to bring their ethos into their work. Read on as these Eco-Warriors share their journeys with us. Join Et Moda as it ventures forth to showcase the myriad talent in the ethical fashion industry. With big brands like Fendi recognising ethical fashion and adopting it into their designs, the time has never been as right. Venturini Fendi is converting cast-off materials to make stylish bags on one hand, and aiding people in Africa for their betterment on the other. Eco-friendly and community are becoming an important factor for these much-loved brands. They are taking up the cause. Are you?
- Radhika Sathe
~ Ed Talk ~
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Contents 14 Shop Talk Make these beautiful pieces your own 16 New Ventures TTake a seaside holiday with your friends, and donâ€™t forget to pack this sexy beachwear 24 Wardrobe Makeover Transform your wardrobe... without spending a dime!
28 Passion for Fashion A regular column where fashionistas reveal their views about ethics and sustainability 36 The Big Interview Josephine Kyomuhendo on nature, heritage and
46 Experience Can you live a whole month ethically? 54 Spotlight Alice Eleanor uses her imagination with limitless possibilities 58 Review Film, Fashion, Fun at Think Green Moving Image Fashion Day 60 Review Get hold of some presustainability
loved garments to give your wardrobe a boost at London Fashion Exchange
62 Coming Up Explore these forthcoming events
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Alana Blouse £150 Fabryan http://www.fabryan.com
Anna Ladies Wallet £55 NV London Calcutta http://www. nvlondoncalcutta.com Available in colours
Backless Dress £141 Goodone www.goodone.co.uk/#/shop
“Ethics are based on personal moral judgement. It is all about respect for people; whether they get decent minimum wages and good employee benefits. At NV London Calcutta, we aim to change the current perception of ethical goods and make a difference to people’s lives. Ethical fashion can, and should, be elegant, chic and desirable.” - NV London Calcutta
“We normally like to use the word ‘sustainable’ instead of ‘ethical’ in the studio as it feels more resolute and contemporary. For us, a sustainable product is something that is sustainable both socially and environmentally. We believe that, as designers, we should not only satisfy a hunger for new and ever-evolving concepts of style but also solve other practical issues.” - Goodone
Eye Shadow Palette – 5 Color Collection MSRP $63.00 USD NVEY ECO www.shopnveyeco.com
“NVEY Eco makes its products with plant and mineral ingredients. We want to maintain the brands unique heritage as a natural, yet glamorous line of make-up. It is all about giving eco-friendly make-up choices for the consumers.” - Nvey Eco
~ Shop Talk ~
Volumising Mascara Brown-Black £14.35 Green People http://www. greenpeople.co.uk
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What’s it to them? By Radhika Sathe
Five brands come together to discuss what ethical fashion means to them...
Oy! Pressed Mineral Powder SPF15 £20.45 Green People http://www.greenpeople.co.uk Coco Large Hobo Bag £160 These Same Stars Silk Wrap Scarf £122 ahttp://www.nvlondoncalcutta.com (detachable handle which is replaced by scarf here)
“We are dedicated to making 100% natural, gentle and organic products. We are anti-animal testing and are members of the Vegan Society. We strive to keep transparency in what we put in each of our products.” - Green People
Playsuit £69 Goodone www.goodone.co.uk/#/shop
“Fabryan endeavours to be ethical throughout its operations. From sourcing materials through to final production, Fabryan is keen to support fair trade and a sustainable environment.” - Fabryan
Advance Care Lip Color MSRP $29.00 USD NVEY ECO www.shopnveyeco.com
Rainbow Scarf £100 Fabryan http://www.fabryan.com
~ Shop Talk ~
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Life is a... A
s Katy walks to the table Lisa is sitting at in the Sanderson Hotel at 50 Berners Street, you can see the ease they have with each other. Having been friends before becoming partners has definitely been a natural process for these two fashion lovers. And so was born Isla London. It is a perfect mix of ideas, beliefs and strengths of the two friends, Katy being from Cyprus and Lisa from Scotland. Finding a connection between the two, and the fact that the brand is for beachwear, Isla seemed to be the logical name, as it is the Gaelic term for island. With Lisa’s background in designing and Katy’s in business, it is pretty much a win-win situation. Though they come from different backgrounds, they bring to the table their expertise to bring about a new brand which is all about fun and fashion. With a degree in fashion design from Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels, Lisa specialised in knitwear. Katy has always had an entrepreneurial streak in her. Having always worked in interior design, property, construction, “and those kinds of things”, it was a natural step for her to have her own small business in furniture reselling.
~ New Ventures ~
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holiday In conversation with Katy Argyrides and Lisa McAcinden of Isla London about fun, design and sustainability
~ New Ventures ~
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A balancing act Lisa then went on to work as a senior knitwear and jersey designer at Kaliko, and then as a supplier at Stuart Peters, where she designed for M&S, Debenhams and Per Una. Come 2009, she entered ‘Make your mark in Fashion’ competition which was sponsored by the Ethical Fashion Forum. “I always wanted to do something for the betterment of the environment. Being in the fashion industry, I could see it is such a massive polluter and causes so many landfills...” Lisa informs, “Participating in the competition and being selected as the top 3 amongst 900 applicants and getting to showcase in London Fashion Week at The Hospital Club alongside well known sustainable brands such as Junky Styling, Enamore and THTC gave me the inspiration and a push to start a business of my own.” “When Lisa and I got together, it just worked out,” Katy pipes in, “I am not a designer, but I love fashion, especially vintage. Lisa is more of the creative force behind the brand and I come on a business level. Also, as a customer I suppose. I ask questions like how does it wash, what is the pricing like; questions which a customer would ask. It’s a...” “... good balance, I suppose” Lisa finishes
the sentence. “We bounce off ideas with each other. I think one of the main reasons that our collection has got a good response is that it has been well thought about. We have painstakingly gone through each piece to check if it’s wearable, if it’s just right. We want our collection to have a vintage quality to it; we want people to want to hang on to it. We make sure the quality is top—notch. We want it to be kept and loved...” This venture “gave me the opportunity to vent out my frustrated creativity,” Katy says, “I used to always have had a desk job before. I was 28 or 29 and sitting in office when I decided that I have to do something for myself. That’s when I started my own business. Using what I knew, in furniture, sales, setting up businesses, I started my own furniture agency. Lisa and I were on a holiday when she approached me with the idea of starting something together; to handle the business side and also to support her as a friend. So, it all started from there.”
Taking a high stand(ard) “We test everything ourselves,” Katy affirms, “We hand—wash everything. We take out the sample bikinis and other garments on holidays with us to check
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them out... which definitely are a lot of fun also.” Lisa nods laughing. Katy continues, “We check for durability, and the standard of quality. All garments and tried and tested before being put up for sale. We want our customers to be happy and come back to us for more. So we make sure that the quality of the garments remains high.” “It’s much easier when there are two of you,” Katy reflects, “Isla is doing really well, and it’s a lot of fun. You get someone to share the fun with. And when you have to do something you have to do but don’t want to, you have someone encouraging you to go ahead with it. It feels good to be able to do something of our own.”
A dash of fun Both Katy and Lisa have a thing for vintage. And “I was interested in Japanese
~ New Ventures ~
fashion too. I got to travel quite a bit in my earlier job. I got to go to Tokyo where I saw the Harajuko ghettos and the 50s textiles,” Lisa informs, “We wanted to have something fun, and a little tongue in cheek. So we thought why not ducks, kids, kaleidoscopes and pineapples? We want people to look at the collection and smile and think “yeah I want to wear that”...” And of course, cupcakes. Who doesn’t like cupcakes? Lisa lets me know that “it’s all about the cupcakes for me. I wore my cupcake bikini to my holiday in the Algarve couple of weeks back and the cup cake Jackie—O dress I’m wearing today.” Designing for a young target audience who enjoy life and love to have fun, Lisa feels that the customer “likes to be noticed. Vibrant and energetic, an Isla woman has a youthful mindset, more than being of a particular age—group. She
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Social network “Both of us have had successful careers, you know,” Lisa informs, “We worked for successful companies and obviously had the drive and ambition to do well. So we thought ‘why not do it for ourselves’. And being in an industry which has a bad reputation” — with the landfills and sustainability issues — “really grated at me. So we wanted to do something ethical: have it organic and make it sustainable.” “Social enterprise, as well,” the business— minded Katy speaks up, “We are coming out of a very bad recession where there are a lot of people out of work. There are so many frustrated creative people. We are planning to start our own knit co—operative soon. And we want to manufacture our own fabrics in the UK so we can support the UK industries. And when we get near to launching new collections, we’ll be taking on people for work—experiences. We are very much interested in social enterprise.” “With the knit cooperative, we are planning to get the people who can’t get jobs” — due to the current market scenario — “into
working in a setup or from home. Teaching them the skills or honing the ones who already have them,” Lisa adds. As the main objective is to be ethical and sustainable, “we spend a lot of time sourcing. We don’t just use organic Fairtrade cotton, but also Lyocell fabric,” — which is made from cellulose, the main material in plant cells — “as also Seacell active fabric” — which is made from seaweed — “which is actually good for your skin,” Lisa elaborates, “as these fabrics contain natural proteins and are naturally anti—bacterial. Also the process of manufacturing these fibres is a non— damaging one.”
Going places The website has been just launched and a pop—up store was well—appreciated at Portabello Road. The next step is “a collection inspired by Mod designs of the 60s. But we will maintain the fun element,” Lisa clarifies, “That is our brand identity. Each of our design is conversational, and that’s what people know us for.” As this conversation draws to an end, Katy and Lisa smile for the camera — after a touch up on the makeup, of course — while discussing their plans for the day with each other. With a new venture where they are very much involved in its every aspect, they have a busy schedule, but they don’t seem to mind. In fact, they are enjoying every moment of it!
image courtesy: Isla London
is interested in brands like Anthropology, or Topshop.” Katy adds, “She’d also like to go to vintage festivals...” A description that seems to befit both of these women... “Like I said before, we try out the first sample ourselves. Till it feels right to us, we do the required changes till it is just right. We wouldn’t put it out there of we wouldn’t wear it.”
By Radhika Sathe Deciding to launch their own beachwear brand during a holiday, it’s but natural Katy and Lisa will have their share of favourite holiday destinations and beaches... For Katy, fun is where family is. Cyprus is a favourite of hers. “I like America too as there are just so many places to visit there!” Lisa loves to have a little bit of samba and a little bit of peace. “I go to Brazil for the Rio Carnival as I love samba
and the bright colours of the festival. But for winter breaks, I head to Scottish Highlands for some peace and quiet. ” While according to Katy, any beaches in Ibiza make the fun quotient — where she likes to wear her Kaleidoscope Kaftan as the print is colourful and elegant and it takes her from beach to bar — Lisa prefers Ipanema in Rio Di Janerio, and Chapel Cornwall when she wants to have a go at surfing.
~ New Ventures ~
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~ New Ventures ~
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Trashion Alert! F
ashion changes every season. What might be in this season may be out in couple of months itself. We end up buying a lot many clothes to remain in fashion, but as they get “out-dated” faster, they end up either in a trash pile or at the back of the wardrobe. Doesn’t this seem wrong on so many levels? Also, when we buy from high street shops, there are high chances that you’ll see the same garment on someone else. Where’s the uniqueness and individuality in this? As Shweta Kapur, a young journalist, says, “I have so many of last years, and the year before’s, clothes in my wardrobe. They are in perfect condition, so I’d rather not throw them away. But I know I won’t wear them as they are not “in” currently. I really don’t know what to do with them.” It’s a catch22 situation. Here are two books which can help you out of this situation and give you a new perspective, and your garments a new lease on life.
share a passion to wear unique outfits. Certain that they want don’t to be caught wearing the same garment as others, they decided to do something they had never done before. Open their own business where they made new clothes from materials that already existed... stylishly. You’ll say, so what’s new? So many are doing the same these days. Annika and Kerry started Junky Styling 12 years back in 1999; a time when “upcycling” wasn’t a known term for all. From a 3x2 metre retail space in Kensington Market to a split-level wide space where they could house both the retail shop and the workshop at 12, Dray Walk in Brick Lane, Junky Styling has been a pathbreaker in its field. This dynamic duo take us with them down the pages of Junky’s history on how they came to be such a runaway hit with the clientele and share some trade secrets in their book, Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery.
Like none other “Hoarding is a part of who I am. ‘It may come There are doubts on when “upcycling” term was in handy one day’ is coined... The New York Times cites it as 2002 by a philosophy I have William McDonough and Michael Braungart spoke always lived by.” Relate about it in “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way to this a lot, do you? We Make Things” while there is reference of it I do. I tend to hoard back in 1996 by Pulp & Paper Canada Group of just about anything and publication. everything: from clothes http://www.wordspy.com/words/upcycling.asp to notebooks to boxes. You never know when you can need something, right? But Selena FrancisStyle surgery Bryden, a fashion, furniture and interior Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager have designer/customizer, has a solution. She been best friends since 6th-form. They rarely buys anything new, she says. “I have DID YOU KNOW
~ Wardrobe Makeover ~
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Everyone has something or the other in their wardrobe which they either never wear, or have small faults which make them unwearable. Annika Sanders and Kerry Seager of Junky Styling and Selena FrancisBryden have solutions by which you can make these clothes into ones you can proudly show off.
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1. Take three pairs of Trousers. Fold in half with back pockets facing each other. Cut across widest part of the thigh section. 2. Cut diagonally along the legs of the trousers with the ankle side less wide than thigh section (as shown in diagram). Make sure all the wedge-like pieces of the trouser are of same dimensions. 3. Sew the long sides together keeping the short ends together on one side. 4. Sew all sides to each other making a tent like structure. 5. Elasticate the smaller side and hem the wider. Voila! Your 50’s classic circle skirt is ready. You can increase the fullness by increasing the number of trousers. Et Moda Note:You can use different coloured and textured trousers to give a quirky effect or have it made from same or similar trousers to give it a more subtle look. Junky Styling:Wardrobe Surgery; p 122
image courtesy: Junky Styling: Wardrobe Surgery
YOU DO IT! STEP BY STEP CIRCLE SKIRT BY JUNKY STYLING
1. Take two men’s shirts with 16” neck size. This will make a total girth of 32”. So choose size according to your chest round. It should not be smaller than the chest round, bigger is okay. These shirts can be of contrasting or complimentary colours, according to how you want your dress to look. 2. Make sure the two shirts are of same style – same number of buttons, collar shape, etc. Button the shirts to each other. 3. Keeping one buttoned down side as the front, tie both sleeves of the two shirts at the back. You can add lace or ribbon as straps. As Selena says, “Very Vivienne Westwood!” Et Moda Tip:Try this with one black and one white shirt... classic and chic. DIY Fashion, p 84
~ Wardrobe Makeover ~
image courtesy: DIY Fashion
YOU DO IT! TWO-SHIRT DRESS BY SELENA FRANCIS-BRYDEN
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an aversion to spending money on things that I think that (maybe) I can do myself.” Common sense, sometimes, is not so common. Selena talks about basic common sense ideas which remain somewhere in the dark part of the brain and won’t make an appearance till reminded. Like, what’s good for one may not be for other... What may look good on
DID YOU KNOW? According to Waste Online, textiles make up about 3% by weight of a household bin. At least 50% of the textiles we throw away are recyclable, however, the proportion of textile wastes reused or recycled annually in the UK is only around 25%. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/21130258/resources/InformationSheets/Textiles.htm
the runway models may not really do you any justice, not just because of the body shape but also, skin tone, features, etc. And why would you want to wear something so many others have, anyway? She discusses 40 projects, which don’t require former training or even a sewing machine. Get your copy of DIY Fashion to get many ideas to have your own unique wardrobe collection. Along with these books, there are many video tutorials and blogs online which show you various techniques to remake your garments. Maybe you can just remove one shirt’s collar and sleeves and attach it to other. Or just use the fabric from your old T-shirt to make appliqués for other garments. You may not want to make too big a difference, even adding or subtracting a few details here and there will help you give your wardrobe a shuffle. By Radhika Sathe
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Colour me Ethical! A fashionista to the core, Señorita Moda’s personal style is eclectic and quirky. Here, she talks about how she got into becoming a staunch ethical fashion lover.
Et Moda will be getting in people from different walks of life that have one thing in common, ― their love for fashion ― to write a column. They will be discussing, informing and sharing what they feel about ethical and sustainable fashion.
s I walked down Oxford Street to meet a friend over coffee at Starbucks, I paused to see the shop windows... “That chic LBD at Miss Selfridge’s window, the Crossed Drape Top by Wal G at Topshop, the Flaming beauty Peg trousers at French Connection UK...” The shop windows tried to beckon me in. I steeled myself, shook my head and moved on. That I didn’t have time to shop was a boon. As I sit down to wait for my friend to arrive, my mind wandered back to those garments. I could have gone to a friend’s upcoming birthday bash in that sexy LBD, the drape top was perfect for casual wear and those trousers... sighhh! I thought about what I had found out a while back and was glad that I didn’t fall prey to impulse. Let me share what I found...
Reality check I had been surfing online when I came across a website, Labour behind the Label (LBL in short). What I read there shook me up. Okay, I didn’t know for sure if what LBL says is 100% true, but even the possibility of such things happening was awful. That the people who make these garments are treated so badly and the working conditions... just the thought made me shudder. What was I thinking of? Well, LBL is a campaign that brings to the people’s notice of the conditions the workers — from all around the world — who make garments for the fashion industry, work in. It made me rethink my love for brands. Miss Selfridge and Top Shop, along with 5 other shops, are owned by Arcadia Group, UK’s second biggest garment
~ Passion for Fashion ~
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~ Shop Talk ~
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dreaded to even think of it. My friend glared at me and told me to keep an open mind and that I would be surprised to see what I would. Closed minded, moi? But I decided to have a look at all the stuff, so she’ll be satisfied. What I saw, well, had me take a step back wide-eyed!
retailer and the biggest women’s wear retailer. The company gets its garments manufactured in Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Greece, Poland, Turkey, UK, Spain, China, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Hong Kong. LBL surveyed the working conditions in these manufacturing units and revealed a shocking find... Romanian workers were paid less than 30% of an estimated living wage of approximately £118 for a family of four and overtime was compulsory but unpaid. In India, the workers were not given benefits to which workers were legally entitled and overtime was compulsory. Knowing my clothes, the ones I so loved, were made by people who suffered in the process, gave me no pleasure. So, that’s when I decided not to go for these high street brands whose ethical policies are doubtful, to say the least. But for someone who loves shopping and who would like nothing more than just shopping the whole day long, this decision crated a dilemma. What was I to do?
Finding new paths A friend suggested to me that I go shop for ethical clothes. The first thing that came to my mind was beige, army green and browns... Not exactly my colours! I
These upcycled and recycled clothes are not bad... not bad at all! In fact, they have a quirky edge to them. As I walked into Junky Styling’s Brick Lane store, I was fascinated with the way old dresses, trousers and suits have been remade into modern, chic clothes. If my eyes were closed before, seeing this surely opened them wide. I then headed to 123, Bethnal Green Road. There too I had my belief that ‘ethical is drab’ removed from mind. The things these designers come up with are really interesting, especially considering the fact that their job is more difficult than your regular designers... How so, you ask? Well, working with limited number of raw materials is not easy. And if they are into upcycling and recycling, they use old garments as raw material. That they make wearable garments which look good shows their creativity and vision. By upcycling and recycling they increase the sustainability of the garment, and avoid sending it to the pile of waste that is going to go to
~ Passion For Fashion ~
~ 31 ~ the landfills. At landfills, a gas called methane is released i nto the atmosphere, which contributes to the climate change we are already experiencing.
Problem, thy name is innovation Recycling, you all know; but what is this upcycling? According to a Reuter’s reporter Belinda Goldsmith, upcycling refers to reusing an object in a new way without degrading the material it is made from. This way, you can make so many things from your old suits, trousers, jackets... you name it! These upcycle designers have done just that and breathed a new life into the otherwise “waste-worthy” garments. With hindrances comes a need which is satisfied innovation and invention. I am sure some wise man, or woman, said this or something like this at some point. Having shortage of easily-available raw material, these designers have turned to sourcing newer materials and methods to make garments. Technology plays a very important role in making garment eco-friendly and sustainable. From using digital art to innovative fabrics, the pathbreakers have come up with things you haven’t ever imagined of. I hadn’t ever thought that fabrics can be made from bamboo, let alone seaweeds! Lyocell is one such fabric. It is made from cellulose (vegetable matter), or wood pulp. It is known for its strength and durability, along with its eco-friendly manufacturing techniques. It is the next step after rayon, which was the first man-made fabric. Another fabric which had me amazed was Seacell. This fabric is like Lyocell Did I want to be a part of a cycle which and produced harms, or possibly harms, other people, with a similar animals and the environment? What method, but from about the fact that if we keep seaweed. Seaweeds consuming and discarding products at are supposed to the rate which we are right now, the contain active raw materials are going to get over ingredients which soon, and the whole earth will help in preserving be just filled with landfills? the smoothness and firmness of the skin, to improve the blood supply of the skin, activate the metabolism and thus promote skin renewal. Amazing, huh? So, your clothes can help you with a good skin... Going ethical seems better and better! Brands like Isla London have used Seacell in their designs. Considering that Isla does beachwear, it just seems very appropriate.
Renovating... me! You would be thinking that from being completely unaware of the beauty of ethical wear, how did I get into it so much? A visit to some of the stores had me reconfigure my thinking and my way of life to quite an extent... Did I want to be a part of a cycle which harms, or possibly harms, other people, animals and the
~ Passion for Fashion ~
~ 32 ~ environment? What about the fact that if we keep consuming and discarding products at the rate which we are right now, the raw materials are going to get over soon, and the whole earth will be just filled with landfills?
fibre, fabric and garment stage of making a garment. These chemicals are not really checked for their compatibility and reactions with the land and soil. This leads to the land where such landfills take place becoming unusable for anything else; you can’t use it for farms or even plant any kind of trees there. I don’t think I need to reiterate the importance of trees in nature, do I?
It made me more conscious in my shopping and living habits. I didn’t want to be a part of a “linear cycle” as The Story of Stuff puts it. A 20-minute video by Funders Workgroup for Sustainable Not just jazz! Production and consumption, it explains The fashion industry is considered by how an average process of manufacture some people, who are not related to it, and consumption works. Interestingly as frivolous and one which doesn’t affect portrayed through commentary and the economy as much as others, for animation, it makes you think. Some say example IT industry. The British Fashion that the reason of making this movie is Council estimated that in 2009 the UK political, made by one party to undermine fashion industry directly contributed other... But isn’t the fact that this process £20.9 billion to the UK economy and is taking place more important than why as discussed before, the effect it has on the video was made? All I am trying the environment is also considerable. So, to point out is that if we keep taking how can it be left to do what it wants from the nature for the raw materials without monitoring the result of its and giving back harmful “If you ask me what I think people should be getting next season. stuff in form of waste and I’ll tell you what I’d like them to buy - nothing. I’d like people to plastics and other such nonstop buying and buying and buying. There’s this idea that somehow decomposable things.
Heal the world
you’ve got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they’d get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked.”
Matilda Lee, in her book Eco Chic: The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to Ethical Fashion, says, “The process of clothing production — from dyeing and printing, to finishing, storage and transport — doesn’t sound like a headline-grabbing issue. But the chemical use in these processes is staggering; fashion changes are helping to change the climate; a shawl or a handbag can help lead to the extinction of species; and our clothes are polluting the world’s precious water, air and soil.” You might be wondering how clothes affect the environment... The more waste, especially the nondecomposable kind gets accumulated the more room it takes. More than space, the problem is the harmful chemicals used during the production or during the disposal of these products. Chemicals are used to give certain finishes at the
actions? These days we speak about the carbon miles people put in and that we should avoid it. What about a garment’s carbon footprint? From sourcing the raw material, to the factory where it is made into fibres, then fabric, then the actual garment, finally ending up where it is sold, garments log in a lot of carbon miles. Do we consider that? Yes, I am becoming a little too preachy, aren’t I? But the word needs to be spread. Even Baroness Young of Hornsey brought up the topic at the House of Lords. In the end, it’s the consumer that drives the manufacturer in one way or the other. Imagine if you refuse to buy Primark clothes because of their unethical practices of production, and thousands of people do so too, what option will they have but to listen to the demands of the
~ Passion for Fashion ~
image courtesy: Junky Styling online shop
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customers and have ethical policies put in place — and followed —to get their sales to rise up again. No brand, retail store or design label is going to run if they don���t get their products to sell. Oh well, this is just my take on it. I have now, after knowing about the impact the environment and people face because of us not caring, realised that it’s me who has to change first before asking others to. So, here I am now, not giving in to the impulse of buying high street clothes just because they are pretty, or cheap. Dame Vivienne Westwood believes that “If you ask me what I think people should be getting next season. I’ll tell you what I’d like them to buy - nothing. I’d like people to stop buying and buying and buying. There’s this idea that somehow you’ve got to keep changing things, and as often as possible. Maybe if people just decided not to buy anything for a while, they’d get a chance to think about what they wanted; what they really liked.” At the end, it’s the quality that counts, not the quantity. With new designers thinking actively about being ethical and finding ways of doing so in new ways, the future seems bright. Take graduate designer Waiyee Chong, for instance. She has come up with a collection, ‘Unconstructed Wearables’ that “requires the buyer to construct their own clothing without the need for any tools or stitching, thus creating a bond between consumer and consumable, ultimately creating emotionally durable items of clothing.” Well on that note, I have this urge to buy me some new clothes! So I am heading to Brick Lane to get some Junky Styling. There was a lovely swoosh dress made from navy coloured woollen suiting with tie linings on their website... It should be in the place it needs to be... my wardrobe! The views are of the writer and the magazine does not take responsibility for the same.
~ Passion for Fashion ~
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~ Shop Talk ~
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Josephine Josephine Kyomuhendo talks about her journey from dressing up dolls to dressing people in her ethical creations. When you speak to Josephine Kyomuhendo you realise how dedicated she is to her art and beliefs. A 2008 graduate from London College of Fashion, Josephine believes in “fashion with a conscience”. When she talks of her work, it becomes apparent that ethical fashion can be chic and fun. Josephine’s story started years back, to say the least. She started her journey into the world of fashion as a child. From making her own dolls and dressing them up from the off cuts from her mother’s tailoring, she went on to experimenting with her two elder sister’s hand-me-downs. “But when it came to choosing practical subjects for my secondary school, I chose fine arts.” It was by chance that she actually forayed into fashion designing. When her fine art project “disappeared without a trace” during assessment and she wasn’t given due marks, she decided she wanted to do something else, but not leave the creative industry. So this got her into designing. “That’s when I came to London. I did my qualifying degree, and then decided to work in the industry,” Josephine recalls, “I worked in a factory-setting where I perfected my technical skills of pattern-making, stitching, amongst other things. From there I went into bridal-wear. I designed gowns which were beautiful and lovely which will make the bride happy.” The bridal gowns in her workshop are exquisite. In organza, silks and such gossamer fabrics, these white dreamy creations are elegant and stylish, yet trendy.
~ The Big Interview ~
~ 38 ~ “There was an excitement that I was creating something for someone’s special day. The artist in me wasn’t satisfied though,” Josephine reveals, “I decided to go back to academics and redirect my career. I joined London College of Fashion and studied for four more years. That was the turning point in my life. And I would not have done it any other way. It was there that I started my journey in sustainable design.”
Challenging the norm Josephine had reached a point where she had started second guessing and trying to find a meaning to it all. “Fashion gets obsolete very fast. Things change in two weeks. You go back to a shop and you won’t find anything similar to what was there a couple of weeks back. And that’s how people treat it. It is too fast forward, which has become a regular feature of fashion. What happens to the clothes of the previous season? People wear things and throw them away within no time.” While there are many positives in the fashion industry, there are many negatives too. Being eco-conscious, she had to “find a good enough reason to remain in the industry, because of all this waste” as she didn’t want to contribute to it. “Going back to University helped as I found a place in the fashion industry I could be in and it matched my ethos. I could be comfortable to say that ‘yes, I am in the fashion industry and no, it isn’t so bad!’” Her first collection, Resonance, was a collection made of bark cloth. “You can’t get any more sustainable” with regards to raw materials, “than using bark cloth. You use the outer layer, the bark, of a tree for your cloth, and it will grow back and regenerate itself. You can go back to the same tree in a couple of years to get its bark. What else can you ask for? Bark cloth is really special for me,” she gushes. “It’s a perfect fabric to use. To make it more pliable, I kept the treatment very simple; I just use water and dyes.” “In the olden days, when bark-skin was the most common fabric used for
clothing, the garments used to just be hung in the sun. The heat used to dry-clean the garment and wind blew away any odour. Similarly my garments don’t need to be washed. You can just hang them out and they’ll be as good as washed,” Josephine shrugs, “It will cost you nothing to just hang the garments. This way you are not only keeping true to the roots” but also saving energy and using it optimally. Using such a fabric for her first collection met with resistance, as does any new idea. She stuck to her beliefs though and insists, “I don’t regret it at all.”
Being human Ethics play a very important role for the mother-of-three. “For me, ethical is being aware that the people you work with, or who work for you, are just like yourself. If you won’t do something to yourself, why do it to them? You should make sure you look after the people; pay them the right wage, don’t make them do overtime without consent.” Deadlines in the fashion industry are hard, as she points out, “They make you want to push people into working faster and more. I personally push myself more than I push others. But in my workshop, everyone is as much passionate about their work as me. So if we have to do overtime at times, they are quite happy to do so. One has to be conscious that one is dealing with humans who have feelings and needs.” Josephine is a firm believer of “giving back to the community, and sharing what we’ve got, as and when possible.” With this in mind, she now runs basic patternmaking and sewing workshops for the local community for free: “This was the women don’t have to be dependent on tailors or even designers like myself for every single garment.” She strives at making them self-reliant in that area. “People do ask me why I do so as this leads to my clientele decreasing. But, it doesn’t really work that way. These people are not going to come to me, a fashion designer, for each and every one of their tailoring needs, and this way,
~ The Big Interview ~
all iheartfashion photography: Catwalk Capture
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they don’t have run constantly to others for help. They will be more informed about the choices they make.” The workshop runs weekly two hour sessions about basic pattern-making for everybody. They also do one-on-ones with those who ask for it. “We also get students looking for work experience. Many of them are 14-15 year olds. And there are the ones who come to us before they start their university course to learn the basics.” This helps drive away the fallacy, many fashion aspirants have that designing is only about sketching what is in your mind. Pattern making and tailoring is an integral part of it. “People have this misconception that if one knows the technical aspects, one is just a “machinist”. I am a fashion designer who has the technical abilities of a technician,” Josephine explains, that having the technical abilities help in designing with the knowledge of
what is doable and what is not. “We do get people coming to us who design something without knowing if it is going to work or not. At such times, we have to change the design to suit the fact that some technical aspects have to be met to make it into a reality.” Coming back to ethicality in her work, “if you are sourcing from abroad, you have to make sure that the people you source from have the same ethos like you. You need to have a check on how they work: the people working for them are taken care of, have good conditions to work in, etc. It’s really hard and I haven’t been able to trust anyone for that. So, I get everything done, from processing to sewing to embellishment, here in my workshop in UK itself. I know I may have to outsource once my work load increases and I really can’t get it all done here,” the designer who is a part of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion in London
~ The Big Interview ~
~ 40 ~ College of Fashion, states matter-offactly, “But I’ll cross that hurdle when I get there.” “Bark cloth is the only thing that comes from abroad, from Uganda. I have family there who gets it sent to me. Uganda is the one place that still produces fabric from bark cloth. The process is part of its tradition and it has passed down by word-of-mouth for generations.” Bark cloth is a unique, non-woven fabric produced from the bark of a rare and novel fig tree species peculiar to Uganda and locally known as Mutuba. Uganda’s bark cloth was named as part of the world’s collective heritage recognized by UNESCO in November 2005. The global body declared the ‘art of bark cloth making in Uganda a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity.’ “Keeping the tradition alive is very essential. It’s an integral part of heritage,” she firmly believes, “And without that fabric, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It is an integral part of me as a designer.”
The call of nature Speaking of bark cloth, the talk veers to her inspiration for her first collection. “I took inspiration from the nature.” The great outdoors... “We could be here forever, talking of how inspiring nature can be. I used big natural phenomenon like the Ayers Rock, Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Lights.” After thorough research on each of her inspiration, she “broke down what they actually represent and used that in my designs.” For her they represented openness, rawness and structure. “I inculcated that in my designs. So if you see, my garments don’t have everything completely sealed. There is a feel of openness and rawness in it. I took such elements from nature and tried to interpret them my way.” She believes a lot in researching and then developing the concept. “When I was researching for my first collection, I looked at many different parts of nature. There is so much to learn and get inspiration from in nature, that I feel that
even if I don’t go back to researching, I’ll be able to develop different and new concepts from that research itself,” Josephine informs. “There are so many elements in nature, that can be sources of inspiration.” — take a single leaf for example, you can be inspired by the colours, textures, shapes, etc — “There is no want of sources of inspiration. Like nature, even sculptures and architecture plays a big role.” Not one to do duplicates of other designers’ work, she tries “not to do a lot of window shopping. I first design and get my ideas in place. Then I go out and see what others are doing. I don’t like to copy. It has got to be original. Otherwise there isn’t any point to it. All my work is very well thought through.”
~ The Big Interview ~
~ 41 ~ New lease of life “With the upcycling, you are limited with what you do,” Josephine talks about her second collection Memories, “It’s about past memories, which you re-jig and reassemble to send them forward to make new ones.” Keeping the history intact, she aims at giving the garment a new dimension. For example, there is a woman’s jacket with a pocket on the sleeve. “That piece is made from a man’s trousers. Menswear has such superb tailoring and finishing. I tried to maintain as much of it as possible as one has to appreciate the perfection that went into making a pocket like that.” Easier place to keep your phone while driving your car, eh? The workshop also collaborates with other designers and brands. “Jena Theo, Emma Griffith, Mona & Holly to name a few designers. And some online and on street boutiques too,” Josephine informs, “They come to us with their concept and design. We do the pattern making, toile making,” ‟ the draft version of final garment ‟ “and stitching the final garments. We aim at helping them realise their dreams. So, when we are not busy with our own designs, we cater to such work. Sometimes, we run them side by side with our work. The people who come to us with their work have completely different ethos. That’s why the work doesn’t clash. They are designers in their own right. But they aren’t really ethical. But we hope that by coming to us, and see what we do, and how we do it, they get inspired and try to imbibe it in their own practice.”
Spreading the word Bringing ethical fashion into the mainstream market is important. “Many times, ethical designers don’t get enough support as their mainstream counterparts especially monetarily,” Josephine rues, “There is definitely an imbalance there. But I strongly believe
~ The Big Interview ~
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ethical fashion is here to stay. The best way of propagating it is word-of-mouth. If you like something let others know where you got it. Don’t be shy of letting people know that the designer is a local one and not as big as a Gucci or Fendi, yet. That way more and more people will come to know about it.” “The number one priority for me is to get the message across,” Josephine stresses, “Eco, and ethical, is not boring. It can be as fascination as any other design. It can be as eye-catching and eye-popping as an Armani or a Versace. I want to make as many people aware of this fact. So I do different events,” Mahogany Bridal Fashion Show, Ecoluxe Fashion London, iheartfashion Spring Summer 2011, Think Green Moving Image Fashion Day to name a few, “where I can meet a lot of people. For me it is important to support anyone
reach of a wider audience. I am now working towards getting into Estethica, though I have been little discouraged from doing that: ‘They’ll take your money, but you may not get as much returns out of it’ was what I was told. I am also trying to get into New York Fashion Week. We are hoping to take bark cloth to New York and make them fall in love with it. That’s what we are hoping for. There are many events we are trying to get into with one goal in mind: to get the message across. There is more to ethical fashion than what meets the eye.” Bridging the gap between high street fashion, as also couture fashion, and ethical fashion is necessary. It’s the consumers who should start asking their favourite brands to go ethical. “It’s starting to happen now. You got to M&S and you find organic T-shirts. It’s slowly
“Eco, and ethical, is not boring. It can be as fascination as any other design. It can be as eye-catching and eye-popping as an Armani or a Versace. I want to make as many people aware of this fact.”
who supports what I am so passionate about. Being part of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion of London College of Fashion, I have been able to find out a lot about different events that are happening around which are truly ethical.” She declined the offer to join Africa Fashion Week London which was held on August 5th and 6th where designers from all around the world with African origins showcased their work in an exhibition and runway shows. “I don’t know if I judged it right or not, but I didn’t want to be categorised as a particular type,” Josephine shrugs, “The organisers for AFWL are the same as Mahogany Bridal Fashion Show. So they asked me to showcase there too. Yes, I am African and I use African fabrics. But I don’t want to be pigeonholed as that is all I can do. I want to have a bigger umbrella and bigger
but surely starting to happen. Katharine Hamnett’s journey hasn’t been wasted. She is the one who started the whole movement. She left London and moved to Paris because she thought the fashion industry and its people here were not responsible enough to feel that there is a need to change. But she is back now as she can see that changes happening now.” The ethical fashion movement is gathering momentum now with Ethical Fashion Forum in place and more and more designers becoming conscious about it. “I remember sitting in an interview seven years ago where Lucy Siegle [well-known journalist on environmental issues and ethical consumerism] was also present. We were discussing the possibility of sustainable fashion being a long-run reality rather than a fad. I was, still am, of the opinion that all of us keep
~ The Big Interview ~
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trying and pushing it forward until it becomes a norm and a regular feature in consumer behaviour. When I was saying this and showing my collection to Lucy, she gave me her number saying “You seem to have a story to tell.” I have tried to get in touch with her, but not been able to. Now I have a real story to tell, but I can’t get hold of her.” From a time when most people thought ethical fashion is just a trend which will fade away, to its current position, it’s come a long way. “It’s just the past four year when ethical fashion movement has really picked up the momentum.” This eco-warrior signs off by sharing her personal belief, “I live and breathe ethical fashion. It’s not only work, but also my lifestyle. My husband supports me; my kids are groomed in it... I completely believe in it.” By Radhika Sathe
KATHERINE HAMNETT A 1969 BA Fashion and Textiles graduate from Central Saint Martin’s College, Katherine Hamnett is best-known for her political and protest T-shirts. With clientele ranging from The Beatles, Princess Diana, Faye Dunaway, Madonna, George Michael to Norman Foster, Katherine grew in popularity and standing in the
fashion industry. She was the one who invented garment dyeing, stonewashing, distressed denim and stretch denim and coined the term Power Dressing. She launched her first protest T-shirts in 1983 with slogans like Choose Life, Worldwide Nuclear Ban Now, Preserve the Rainforests, Save The World, Save The Whales, Education Not Missiles... In fact, in 1984 she was awarded designer of the year by the British Fashion Council and menswear designer of the year from the Bath Costume Museum. She got invited to meet Margaret Thatcher at Downing Street, where she wore a ‘58% Don’t Want Pershing’ T-Shirt. In 1989, she initiated research into the impact of the clothing and textile industries on the environment, which revealed an untenable situation. She decided to try to change the industry from within and launched Autumn/Winter 1989 ‘Clean up or die’ collection. She campaigned continuously for the next 14 years with her various licensees all over the world to get them to produce ethically and environmentally but failed. Frustrated by the industry’s noncooperation to produce ethically, Katharine cancelled many of her licences and decided to go back into manufacturing herself in 2004. Over the years, this enterprising lady has done a lot for ethical fashion, and is an inspiration to many designers like Josephine.
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~ Shop Talk ~
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Living ethically As an experiment, I decided to live ethically for a month.The experience, though quite a rollercoaster of a month, proved to be extremely beneficial, not only ethically but personally.
hen I took up this challenge to live ethically for a month for the magazine, I never imagined it would be this difficult. Some of the constraints I faced were not so much of availability but of prices too. Mrs Green of the Little Green Blog voices my sentiments exactly, “I’m afraid that at the moment money talks for me. Although I’ll gladly pay for organic food, pay more to support my local stores and support Fairtrade, my budget can’t stretch to all the aspects of eco friendly living I would like.” Living ethically was not just about wearing ethical clothes, but also not using anything, and I mean anything, which is un-ethical. Now, investing in long-term products made sense. But the regular shortspan things like food, clothes were little worrisome. What was I going to do? How was living ethically going to affect my buying habits and lifestyle? With different areas of my life getting affected by this decision, what I hadn’t realised was that I will have to think of small things that usually no one consciously thinks about. Is my washing machine ethical? Should I use electricity for light when it gets dark? Is my laptop and mobile phone manufactured ethically? Are the spices I eat made by people who are paid fair wages? Are my clothes made by small children in some rural area in the world? Do the women working in the different factories given their due medical benefits? All these questions play on your mind during each and every of your decisions.
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Week 1 FOOD FOR THOUGHT I am a foodie. I love food. So, when I decided to live ethically for five days, it did not strike me till the day I started that I won’t be able to eat my regular food. Well, I know it should have dawned on me and I should have made arrangements likewise. But that didn’t happen and I ended up hungry without any food to eat!
This proved to be a boon of sorts; and a bane. The budget had to be raised for daily/weekly groceries, amongst other things. While I agree, and strongly believe, that everybody in the chain should be given fair wages and all that being ethical entails, to balance your budget with a starter’s salary is tad frustrating... But, I had decided to do this experiment and I was going to stick to it. A visit to the ethical stores in London also proved helpful, for obvious reasons. Eco Age provided for some stylish ethical household items. The Rock’n’Roll shelving system was really awesome. Made from high density paperboard rolls and Velcroed together however you like, it is recycled and sustainable. At £50 in their clearance sale, I think I got quite a deal, as it gave me the option to make it look different every time I felt like having a change. The bedside cardboard tables designed by Giles Miller complimented the decor perfectly.
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images courtesy: Eco Age online shop
So, I rushed over to the nearby stores to buy some. Going through the various aisles, I realised it is going to be pretty hard to get my kind of food... Though I am not a meat-person, I like chicken. And with meat, there is one problem. We can’t always be sure if the meat is from a factory farm, or if it’s from a humane-certified, freerange, grazed/pastured animal farm. But, you do get selected food in Marks and Spencer’s (M&S) Simply Food section and such stores. M&S has come up with “Plan A” where they have put together 100 commitments — which pertain to Climate Change, Waste, Health, Sustainable Raw Materials and Fair Partner — which they will fulfil by 2012. Other stores like Sainsbury and Waitrose also have some organic products available.
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Week 2 VEGGIE LOVER? NAA... Another side to this was becoming vegan. Many times it is considered that ethical eating is eating only vegetables. But that is a misconception. As long as the meat is not from a factory farm, it is okay. (According to farmsanctuary.org, factory farming is an attitude that regards animals and the natural world merely as commodities to be exploited for profit.) So, some of my friends who had read about all this, suggested me to be vegan for the week. But, vegetables and I don’t go well together, to say the least. So I was dreading
the prospect till I researched more and found out that being vegan does not directly equal to eating ethical. I was discussing this with a friend, Gemma Jordan when she told me of her trying to become a vegan: “I’m cutting meat because I think it’s needless the amount of animals that we slaughter for food. As well as being incredibly cost effective, there’s proof that a meatless existence is healthier than other diets. From an ethical perspective, it’s also nice to think that I’m reducing my carbon footprint.” Now, going vegan is a personal choice. And there are substitutes developed for the people who like meat but want to be vegan. You get a chicken-like tasting soya food. But if you want to eat chicken so badly, might as well eat the actual thing, right? Making sure the meat is not from a factory farm is all that it needs. It isn’t really about the price or availability, but more about beliefs. If you really want be vegan, or just not eat meat, these substitutes are a good option. As graphic designer Shreeram Nadkarni informs, “You get chicken and meatball substitutes by the brand Quorn at Sainsbury and Asda.” Eatkind.net puts it in a very nice way: “Ethical eating, like ethical living, is not about absolutes. It’s about doing the best you’re willing and able to do — and nurturing a will to keep doing better.” That made a lot of sense to me. Or, you can say, that gave me a way and a reason to take some time-outs if I needed them...
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Week 3 MAKE THY CLOTHES! Clothes become an issue too. I could not wear any of my old clothes. None at all! Not even my underwear! Oh well, that got my knickers in a twist... literally! On going online with my search for ethical wear, I found an extensive list of ethical brand on the Guardian website (www.guardian.co.uk/ lifeandstyle/page/ethicalfashiondirectory). But — of course, there is a ‘but’ — the cost for all these garments, underwear included was not below £10. Even the underwear for £10 was the one on sale! But I found a way to balance this. As I was doing an ethical fashion magazine, it all tied in: me living ethically, studying about ethical fashion. I was writing an article on designer Josephine Kyomuhendo who has used upcycling for her new collection. This got me intrigued. What if I was to upcycle my clothes? This had me researching further into ways and methods of doing just that. Of course, I never diverted from my studies by doing this. And this research gave me an idea for another article. A definite win-win situation! In my search for easy to do upcycling projects, I found quite a few ideas which I found intriguing enough to make something for myself. I had an old pair of denim which had broken button and tears on the legs. I thought of making that into purse. And I had got my father’s T-shirt by mistake while packing my suitcase. So, I thought of making that into a tube top. Well, you can see the outcome in the picture. They were not bad for starters. So if I made most of my outerwear and bought only what I needed, I could be well within my budget. Going to vintage stores is also a good option. You get the most unique and quirky style of garments or accessories which might just be really interesting. And a look at these vintage stores made me realise that even the decade I grew up in, the 90s, is considered retro. Margherita and Michele of Mumzine believe that vintage clothes not only look more unique but they’re also often higher quality than mass produced high street clothes. Another thing
I attended was a swishing party. In that, you exchange your clothes, or shoes or accessories, with someone else. I got couple of my old tops and some earrings and necklaces exchanged. The Swish & Pout’s Fashion Exchange at The Landor Pub was loads of fun. They had a style team present to demonstrate this season’s key looks with makeovers, hair styles and trend tips. As also upcycling experts ‘Joined Up Streatham’ who reworked on the clothes you didn’t want to exchange but didn’t use much. I got some really nice clothes out of this: a semi-formal shirt, a formal shirt with a camisole, a pair of earrings and a necklace. They were in a good quality, and if I wouldn’t have got them in a swishing party, I could have easily mistaken them for brand new. It makes you wonder. What must the lady, who had this garment before, have done with it? Did she wear this shirt for a meeting? Or the semi-formal shirt to an evening out with friends? It was like being a part of someone else’s history. As it was also for the person who got my clothes.
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Week 4 TECH TALK More than food and clothes though, what I had the biggest problem with were little things like laundry. How do you ethically wash your clothes? Use organic and fair trade detergent, yes. You get a variety to select from at Steenbergs Organic website. From dishwashing liquid to laundry scents to bath scrubbers, you get ethical options for all. But what about the machines? Are they made ethically? And we use electricity too for it. How ethical is that process? Mrs Green came to the rescue yet again. I looked into Cooperative Energy as she did. As a part of The Midcounties Co-operative, the third largest co-operative in the UK, Cooperative Energy has very clear-cut objectives: Giving competitive prices, Being straightforward, Being honest and transparent about the dealings, Using low carbon energy, and Getting members to have a say in the dealings and a share in the profits too. Well, this was a very good system, wasn’t it? Completely and totally ethical... And more research into this got me more information. There are other green energy suppliers too. I hadn’t really thought of it before. There was Green Energy — who generate energy using innovative methods like from pig’s manure, tomato-growing process and out of nonrecyclable waste amongst the usual methods —, Good Energy — where electricity is sourced purely from the wind, water, sun and through sustainable bio-generation and is 100% recyclable — among other such energy providers. So electricity wasn’t that big an issue if you shift to one of these people. But, I was staying in a rented place, and have no say over the energy providers. So apart from the money issue, I had trouble with this. So, following Eatkind.net’s reasoning, that “it’s about doing the best you’re willing and able to do and nurturing a will to keep doing better”, I decided to get ethical energy as soon as I am able to, and mostly that time will come when I get my own place.
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How to have ethical technology? We use laptops, desktops, mobile phones, Ipads, and other such gadgets on a daily basis. Are the manufacturing of these ethical? And if not, do we stop using them? As my friend points out to me, my mobile is almost like an extension to my body. I am never without it! After debating with self, a lot, whether I should do this or not, I decided to be prudent about this issue. If I didn’t have a laptop, how was I to write this article? By hand, you say. But will my Ed be willing to accept handwritten pages? And then there will have to be someone to try to decipher my handwriting and transfer it into the digital format. This will take up time and energy. So my using laptop is actually ethical if you think of it as conserving time and energy... But what one can do is buy second-hand products when the time comes. If you are someone who doesn’t use too many ‘fancy’ software, and use your laptop or mobile for the basic necessities, this won’t be a hardship at all. And secondhand comes way cheaper which makes it possible to invest in the required software and upgrade if they are required. So I have decided that when the time comes for me to change my laptop and phone, I am going to get myself some second-hand ones. This will save them from adding to the landfills... Well, as my experiment came to an end. I had learnt and struggled a lot. Not really getting the kind of food I normally would eat, wear
clothes that I would wear... And having to be little un-ethical with regards to electricity and gadgets. But all in all I would have said the experiment was a success... And it also helped me exercise; something I had always meant to do, but never got around to doing. How, you ask. Well, to not contribute to the carbon levels, I completely avoided cars and motorbikes. I only used cycles and walking to travel everywhere. The only bigger vehicle I used was the train to London. Even in London, I opted for the Barclay’s cycles, avoiding the tubes. The Mayor of London sure has thought about Londoner’s fitness! Jokes apart, the system is really easy to use and a very good idea. Not costly at all, it saves time; a lot of it. How? You travel faster than if you walk, and also the time you’ll spend on the gym treadmill or cycle. And for the people like me who have to depend on the tubes for transport, the worry about the tube line being delayed or broken down or having to travel in extremely congested tubes is avoided. So while I had to have loads of changes made to how I live and take each and every one of my decisions after thinking about it consciously, I also benefitted from this experiment. Struggling, pushing and pulling myself not to take the easy route and give up, I finally finished my project. True, that I took a shortcut when it came to the mobile and laptop use, but what is your suggestion in what I should have done? By Radhika Sathe
For comments and suggestions, please drop a line to email@example.com
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“What you can make is only limited by your imagination!” Alice Eleanor gives an insight into the art of upcycling. She shows how to make the most of what you have... fashionably!
lice Eleanor, from Manchester, is your regular girl-next-door. She likes to hang out with friends, party with them and have fun. She likes to be stylish and have fun with her wardrobe, like all other 28-year-olds. By the way, she has not shopped on the High Street for three years now. Errr... Excuse me? Where does she get all her clothes then? Alice, who is an Illustrator by academics, elaborates, “I only buy second hand, locally made or ethical and Fairtrade brands. It’s surprisingly cheap and easy; Swap Shops and Charity Shops are my favourite. I tend to have difficulty with underwear; I do feel that a lot of the ethical brands don’t seem to cater for women with a larger bust! So I have to go to some high street brands when it comes to that.” Oh well, that’s still way more than what any of us can say right? She is very passionate about the environment and wants to bring about a global revolution in the way we think about our consumption and personal style. A complete people’s person, Alice likes to interact with and get to know different people. This got her to do a voluntary workshop at Pankhurst, a women’s charity based in Manchester. This followed by another one in conjunction with Oxfam
~ Spotlight ~
and SIFE and a charity called Manchester Youth Volunteer Project. “I loved it so much that I ended up calling the woman at MYVP and told her I should be getting paid; extremely cheeky of me, but she got back to me a week later and then it continued from there,” Alice reminisces, “She encouraged me to do a Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) course, which was fantastic and I really feel it helped me flourish. She now holds workshops on different ways to avoid wastage and making beautiful pieces of art from old things. I just love sharing skills and watching other people enjoying creating. I get a massive buzz from it.” She encourages individualism and expression through her workshops. “People and passion inspired me. I love people and I love the planet, plus I love creating and making. I’ve always cared about the environment and I have a very compassionate nature. It made sense to go and try to broaden people’s horizons and encourage them to look at the world differently,” Alice explains. Alice makes clothes, accessories, decorations, garden crafts amongst many other things. She is a firm believer of “what you can make is only limited by your imagination!” She uses old clothes, any old textiles, from tights, to t-shirts. Not only fabrics, but
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WHAT SHE MEANS BY... Oxfam: Oxfam started as Oxford Committee for Famine Relief, organised by University Vicar, Canon Milford, in 1942, to help Greek civilian victims of war. With lots of celebrities endorsing it over the years, and many different fundraising activities, Oxfam now is a vibrant global movement of passionate, dedicated people fighting poverty together. SIFE: SIFE brings together a diverse network of university students, academic professionals and industry leaders around the shared mission of creating a better, more sustainable world through the positive power of business. Participating students form teams on their university campuses and apply business concepts to develop outreach projects that improve
the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. In addition to the community aspect of the program, SIFE’s leadership and career initiatives create meaningful opportunities for learning and exchange among the participants as well as the placement of students and alumni with companies in search of emerging talent. Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) course: The course introduces you to planning, teaching and assessing learners in the sector and evaluating your effectiveness as well as examining the roles and responsibilities of teachers in the sector. It is a UK-only, Level 4 qualification for new or unqualified teachers preparing to teach in the lifelong learning sector in England.You can take it pre-service or at the start of your employment in the sector.
also toilet-paper rolls’ tubes, notebook backings, metal washers, 3D glasses, buttons, broken jewellery, broken zips, old CDs, etc... Whatever she can manipulate... “I use whatever is around me! Whatever I can find, that is what is so exciting, you can only use what you’ve got, and it enables real creativity and experimentation. While designing, I usually experiment with colour and composition; I let the fabric talk to me! I don’t tend to sketch and design first, but instead I physically arrange and play with materials, then I refine it and rework it.”
She now also runs Stitched Up, in collaboration with Sara Han, who she met at the Chic & Ethic initiative. This has now developed into a five designers- project where they bring to the table different skills and techniques. These projects are for larger groups, or socials. They are into organising lots of Swap Shops and refashioning workshops. Though these are held in Manchester only currently, there are plans to expand.
images courtesy: Alice Eleanor
She was also a part of the 2010 Chic & Ethic initiative, an EU run project. Seven European countries all collaborated to create, make and share ethical fashion design and techniques, with the end resulting in a showcase in Bucharest, with exhibitions, catwalk shows, workshops and literature.... “It was fantastic to be involved in. We had the chance to share and meet with other countries and cultures. Truly inspiring!”
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Sara Han, designer and Alice’s colleague at Stitched-Up, shares her opinion, “Alice really understands how retro styles can embellish and adorn a modern lifestyle in a really witty and playful way. She makes use of recycled fabrics in all her designs, transforming tired old clothes in amazing aprons with fantastic prints, and old cinema glasses into incredibly funky necklaces, to name but a few of her designs.” Alice Eleanor is very ambitious. She wants to introduce as many people to the world of recycle and upcycle, where you can be your own stylist and stand out from the crowd. “I do describe myself as a subtle activist. I want a global revolution in the way we think about our consumption and personal style. I’m planning a much bigger event, I need more support and more funding first, so we’ll see where the journey takes us.” By Radhika Sathe
Designer Sara Han started making recycled clothes for the ‘Recycled Rechic’ fashion show in Liverpool in 2008. She found that it was something that really resonated with her, and “focused on beliefs I had held regarding, fashion and ethics for a long time.” Sara loved the way of working, deconstructing old clothes and reconfiguring the constituent pattern pieces into new, couture style shapes. The wear and tear of fabrics like denim tells a story of its past life, which further adds to the textural quality of the finished garment.
mass market, in order to change the way the industry is working. “This will have to involve an investigation into how to change consumer attitudes to recycling and buying recycled goods as many people are still very resistant to the idea of buying something which they think of as used,” Sara explains, “In contrast to this, upcycled goods are ‘like new’ products that often reference their original source materials through clever design and skilled craftsmanship.” With her beliefs in place and determination to make ethics and sustainability a regular feature in the mainstream fashion industry, Sara is one to watch out for!
“Trashed Couture is a collection born out of my strong feelings on sustainability in the fashion world, and the need to recycle and reuse the waste created by ever changing trends. My particular use of denim stems from my own personal aesthetic for such a subversive, yet iconic fabric, and is also a comment on the damage the cotton industry is doing to our planet,” Sara explains about her collection. She is also a full time research Masters student at Manchester Met, looking into options to bring upcycled fashion products to the
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images courtesy: Sara Han
WATCH OUT! SARA HAN HAS ARRIVED...
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Who: Maddalena Cocco & Giaia Greco Why: As a part of their final project for their MA Film Curating (by London Consortium and London Film School) course, they had to organise an event where they had to showcase films and documentaries. To “make it more meaningful” as they put it, they decided to base ‘Think Green Moving Image Fashion Day’ on Ethical Fashion. Where: The Showroom, 63 Penfold Street, London NW8 8PQ (nearest tube station Edgware Road) What: Maddalena and Gaia invited different short films and documentaries relating to ethical fashion. With people from all over the world responding to this, they both had a tough job to shortlist five which complimented each other and the theme of the event. The selected five had a distinct message to give and were filmed in a very artixtic manner. ‘Eienesis, In search of light’ (Spain 2010) is about conception to production and its effect on environment, ‘The nature of void’ (UK, 2011) suggests a feasible coexistence of technology and nature, ‘Gas’
Fashion: Through the lens Combining film and fashion together in a way that capture your interest are two young film curators.
(UK, 2010) is scenic artist Marnie Hollande’s take on how people are polluting the planet and how it will affect the people, ‘Energy & Environment’ (UK, 2010) reflect the paradoxical character of contemporary society and ‘Conexao, Connection’ (UK/Brazil, 2011) is a documentary about the process of making upcycled clothes. While the films played in loop throughout the event, the ladies had invited designers to showcase their collections on the Green Carpet. Jose Hendo and Jamilia presented their collections in a mini-fashion show. Designer Josephine Kyomuhendo of Jose Hendo showcased the first collection ‘Resonsance’ where all the garments were made of barkskin fabric. Jamilia presented a knitwear collection trying to give the traditional art of knitting a facelift. What we really liked: The workshop held by Alice Eleanor, an ethical fashion and creative fabrics workshop coordinator. She got everyone, from the organisers to the guests to even the designers and models sitting down with her to make button bracelets and fabric hair accessories. The raw material is all salvaged from old clothes and objects. So don’t you go off dumping every old thing... you never know how you can add a zing to your wardrobe with it! By Radhika Sathe
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t o r y
Who: London Fashion Exchange Why: Swishing is the latest ‘in’ thing. Juliette Margolis, who grew up in Los Angeles where thrift and second hand shopping is part of the mainstream consumer habit, has set up a place, where items can be bought, sold and traded with customers who come by with their pre loved designer, vintage and modern clothes, shoes and accessories. Where: 145, Brick Lane, London E1 6SB
Juliette Margolis shows London the “American way”... What: “In Los Angeles, thrift and second hand shopping is part of the mainstream consumer habits. I shopped primarily at stores like Wasteland and Crossroads amongst other vintage stores as a teenager. I noticed that there weren’t many stores doing it the American way — buying and trading with their customers — here in London. This is what made me decide to open a store with this concept at its core,” she explains. You can walk in with good clothes you’ll never wear, and exchange it with something somebody else will never wear again. The customers get the garments they want to sell or trade and the store buyers go through each of the pieces and decide what can be resold in store after checking what goes with the ethos of the store. The customer then offered cash or trade. They don’t differentiate between designer wear and high street brands. With most of the items averaging £15, the prices range widely depending on the label, style, condition and other factors. London Fashion Exchange gives the term ‘out with the old, in with the new’ a twist... What’s old for you can be new for someone else. As the friendly team at the shop see to it that the garments on display are of good quality, you don’t have to worry about it. The store is set informally with racks of hanger-hung clothes making aisles in the spacious shop on the corner of Brick Lane and Bacon Street near to the famous [24-hour bagel shop]. You get a feel of walking into someone’s huge walk-in wardrobe... You know for a fact, that these garments are second-hand, but they still are “new”. What we really liked: The ‘Label Lust’ corner... not just for the labels, but for the fact that you can get something there from your favourite brand which they might have stopped production of. And dog-printed cushion is just adorable. Also, that the garments have a story of their own already; if the garments would just sprout some voice... By Radhika Sathe
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Miss it and miss out By Radhika Sathe
Available Now Start your Christmas shopping early! The luxury, ethical lifestyle brand Danaqa has a variety of gift options in store. From jewellery to handbags to household accessories, you can pick from myriad options. With complimentary gift wrapping using the finest quality boxes, tree bark wrapping paper and butter soft goatskin jewellery bags, Danaqa will help in making your Christmas an ethical one! Danaqa’s Notting Hill shop, 282 Westbourne Park Road, London W11 1EH
2 -11 September Ms Wanda’s Secret Pop up Shop will be set up as part of the E17 Art Trail. Ms Wanda will be launching her new Autumn/Winter collection as a part of this 10-day event. Ms Wanda is all about finding fashion solutions that don’t compromise people’s human rights or destroy the planet. Her tagline reads, “Looking good on the outside, feeling good on the inside.” Ms Wanda offers PR consultancy, retail and wholesale services also. Secret Location, Follow hash-tag #whereswanda on Twitter to find out.
1- 4 September Ethical Fashion Show will bring together designers who care about the environment, culture and people behind their products. With 100 fashion and design showrooms, an award function, round table discussions and runway shows, this sure makes for an event to look forward to. Paris, France
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With Organic September being celebrated in the UK, as well as many other events being held internationally, you won’t lack things-to-do. So search for a pop-up shop, or swap your way to a new wardrobe or get mesmerised by new ethical designers.The options are endless...
16 - 20 September Estethica will celebrate its fifth year at London Fashion Week. Showcasing the growing movement of cutting edge designers committed to working eco sustainably, it has become the hub of London’s ethical fashion industry. Sponsored by Monsoon, Estethica designers are selected as they adhere to at least one of the three Estethica principles: fair-trade and ethical practices, organic and recycled materials and both their design excellence and ethical credentials. Somerset House
17 September Mrs Bear’s Clothes Swap Shop is themed on a World War II “make do and mend” ethos. Give yourself a new wardrobe by swapping your old clothes, shoes or accessories. Swapping leads to little cost to you and the environment! Mrs Bear’s aims at recapturing the essence of real community along with reducing your carbon footprint. These clothes swapping events are held at various locations in London throughout the year. The Britannia Pub, 360 Victoria Park Road, Hackney, London
23 - 24 September Greenwich Goes Green is back this year. Get ready for a bigger and ‘greener’ shopping experience with more educational activities, demonstrations and a celebration of all things organic, green, eco-friendly in the shops and markets in Greenwich. Greenwich Market, London
17 - 18 October
The Ethical Fashion Source Expo brings together international manufacturers, suppliers and cooperatives working to high ethical standards in its annual event. In its third season now, the event brings international manufacturers, suppliers and cooperatives working with high ethical standards on one platform. Seminars, introducing new products and exemplary supply and production systems form the program for the event. Sadlers Wells, London
~ Coming Up ~
Et Moda Issue No. 1 25 Sept 2011 ÂŁ3
the new face of ethical fashion