It’s good news that most fashion brands, large and small, are looking at how to incorporate sustainable or “eco-friendly” practices into their businesses. The British Fashion Council’s London Fashion Week is particularly good at taking the lead in social issues. LFW was the first main fashion week to go fur-free last year. This year the BFC launched the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to recognise a fashion designer focused on sustainable and community practices. The first award winner in February 2019 was Bethany Williams. And this month, the designer showrooms at LFW became a “positive fashion” exhibition, showcasing new brands new brands with a focus on sustainability, craftsmanship and ethics. The British Fashion Council has been a leader in eco-friendly fashion inititatives for many years, starting with Estethica launched by Fashion Revolution founders Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci in September 2006, to promote sustainable fashion during London Fashion Week.
Sustainable brands that stood out both for their practices and style at this month’s London fashion week included Vin+Omi, AV, DB Berdan, Riley Studio, Riona Treacy, Hanna Fiedler and Unaji.
According to Vin+Omi, “fast fashion has had its day and fashion companies that ignore the planet have had their day.” Since 2004, Vin+Omi have developed twenty new textiles and a meeting with Prince Charles led to the designers transforming the Prince’s nettle plants from Highgrove Estate into woven material. Garments made from this new fabric and colored with plant dyes were featured in their runway show this month. Recycled plastic waste from art supplies company Daler Rowney was turned into fabric for their printed outfits. Also on show were colorful bags made from discarded vinyl outdoor advertising posters donated by Ocean Outdoor.
AV is a newly born womenswear brand striving to create avant-garde, mindful fashion, raising polemics and tackling society abnormalities. Created by Andrea Altmann, graduate in textile design at Münchberg university, Germany, and Vincent Lapp, alumni of Central Saint Martins, the label imagines a couture oriented fashion reflecting on the place of women in the modern world. AV combines traditional craftsmanship and innovative materials, while making sustainability a key element of its responsible design process, always reaching for a zero impact on the environment. The spring summer 2020 collection uses biological cotton Cupro, Tencel, rayon and natural rubber and practices upcycling with the use of fishing nets.
Unaji is a clever new brand by British artist Emmanuel Unaji, an art student at the Kingston School of Art. He creates bespoke garments by applying his artworks so each item becomes a unique work of art. He will customise an item of clothing you already have with his vivid paintings and drawings. He also has a limited edition line of T-Shirts, hoodies and jackets that showcase his illustrations.
Riley Studio is a new sustainable unisex lounge wear brand with fabrics made from upcycled waste products like ocean plastic and fishing nets plus natural fibres. They’re made to last a lifetime, not just for one season, so you can see and feel the quality in their garments. A standout item are the super soft track pants, which come in black or red. Made from Q-NOVA® by Fulgar recycled nylon, these track pants are created using yarn discards from Fulgar’s production cycle, which normally would have been thrown away. The zips at each ankle, plus the weight and feel of the fabric make for a loungewear rather than leisurewear look and a travel wardrobe staple. Riley Studio will have a concept store in London this October with likeminded sustainable brands such as By Sarah, Frank Green and REN at 79 – 81 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill. The Concept Store will also offer a Clothes Drop in partnership with Stories Behind Things, so that customers can donate old clothes to their Clothes Switching Events.
Founded in Istanbul, DB BERDAN is a super creative, edgy London-based streetwear and clubwear genderless brand by mother and daughter duo Beg Berdan and Deniz Berdan. The brand uses its own prints to tell stories, with a focus on social justice and underground cultures. When Pride was banned in Istanbul, they brought it to the catwalk of the city’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. The SS20 collection called “Self Love Club” features bold colors and silhouettes from late 1980s and early 1990s hip hop and rave cultures. The brand’s sustainable credentials are good with their use of organic cotton and environmentally friendly dyes. Plus their garments often double as two pieces. Oversized tie dye denim hoodies and track pants turn into shorts while basketball shorts that become skirts. And on the outside of each garment are labels with the suggestion “take care of our Planet, wash less, wash cold, line dry donate or recycle.”
Riona Treacy is a slow-fashion brand by Belfast native Riona Treacy who worked with major brands like Alexander McQueen and Mary Katrantzou before setting up her own ready-to-wear label. Textiles are at the heart of the brand that pairs simplistic aesthetics with traditional dye processes and T-shirts are made with organic cotton. The designer uses wool, silk jersey and vegan leather with hand dyed prints. In an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint, all Riona Treacy pieces are designed and handmade in London, while all the fabrics are ethically sourced within the UK and Ireland. Another sustainable practice employed by the brand is to recycle all fabric fabric off-cuts or re-purpose them. The color palette for SS20 is a combination of fresh blend bright yellows, powder blue, greens and neutral tones while the soft subtle prints conjure up hazy summer days and leafy greens, taken from hand-dyed fabrics using shibori, Riona Treacy’s signature style. A great example of the brand’s pared-back aesthetic is the asymmetrical Rhombus Dress, crafted from one continual square piece of fabric and cleverly draped across the body to create a flattering silhouette.
Hanna Fiedler was a standout in the designer showrooms. Founded in 2018, Hanna Fielder is a London-based womenswear brand born from the desire of equipping women with a wardrobe of effortless and timeless pieces in which they feel free, powerful, and comfortable. Working with a small-scale network of manufacturers across the UK, traditional tailoring methods and a minimalist aesthetic merge in this clever and chic new sustainable brand to create high-quality garments while supporting local British craftsmanship. German born Hanna Fiedler and worked with Mary Katrantzou and McQ Alexander McQueen before launching her own brand. She uses high-end, environmentally-friendly materials that will last beyond season and only works with natural fibers, such as organic cotton, silk, and wool sourced from European mills, which together with the local production, allows us to minimise our carbon footprint. In the brand’s commitment to minimise waste and inspire customers to embrace a more conscious relationship with their garments, where they see clothes as long-term investment pieces, Hanna Fiedler produces on a made-to-order basis as well as offering custom made and bespoke pieces.