In September I had the pleasure of showing my first ethical luxury collection at the home of the emerging designer, the House of iKons fashion show. The show took place in the Hilton Metropole in London during London Fashion Week and it was their 5th anniversary show.
The theme of the collection is 'what lies beneath' drawing inspiration from the beauty of our planets fragile sea life. I found this also ties in perfectly with my ethical values and the current climate issues being highlighted with sea pollution, particularly plastics.
,The spring led to much research of the type of fabrics available to me, in which to develop my designs. I was aware that this would be a bit of a challenge and so I had an open mind. I knew that I could get ethical fabrics that would translate well into day wear, work wear and other types of clothing lines, for example cotton, hemp, linen and cotton jersey, but I wanted fabrics which would be beautiful and luxurious for evening and occasion wear and was concerned about my ability to access these products.
I was limited to when ordering due to minimum order quantities. Some of the fabrics I would liked to have used were not readily available as they were either so new to the market or so expensive I could not justify the cost, which was a little disappointing. However, even in the six months since I started seriously sourcing ethical fabrics, I have found there is more choice and hope that soon the prices will be more comparable.
I believe there is a shift towards sustainability in the fashion industry and I would like my business to operate in the most sustainable way as possible. Sourcing the right fabrics is one way, but there are many ways in which fashion businesses can reduce it's negative effects on people and our environment. I am currently developing ideas on how to recycle and reuse left over fabric.
I have chosen to use fabrics which fall into a fairly broad category of low impact and luxury. Fabrics which are eco friendly as used in this beautiful purple silk hemp dress or locally sourced from deadstock fabrics, which are end of line like this black sequin fabric, used in the above red carpet dress, which also is made from a silk organza remnant fabric I had.
I was keen to source an alternative to leather that wasn't plastic and found that there were a couple of fish skin leather manufacturers around the world which make leather as a by-product of the fishing industry. The dress above left uses salmon leather on the neckline and is such a beautiful skin to use. The indigo sateen fabric on the right was sourced from a company who works with artisanal weavers and producers and the silk organza contrast was remnant fabric.
Above I designed a coat which I wanted to show off this gorgeous green GOTS certified linen which means that it has been produced in an ethical way to meet a certain standard. The beautiful pink outfit is made of luxury fabrics, the fake fur jacket is made from a couture brand of fabrics which is one of the best. The pleated slip dress is a made of satin which is a luxury fabric. Luxury weavers and mills are akin to ethical in that their manufacturing processes follow a high standard.
I was keen to use a UK made fabric and I have always loved Liberty Print fabric. During a visit to their store, I found this beautiful silk print in chiffon and satin and teamed it up with another new discovery of mine, sequins from the Sustainable Sequin Company hoping to create the effect of falling water droplets. The two piece bustier outfit is inspired by tropical fish and I used an ivory triacetate which has a lovely textured surface with some more of the black sequin. I chose to use triacetate as it is a manmade fabric using natural fibres, so probably not the most ideal fibre to use, but mainly the advantages of using it are in the ease of laundering. Excessive washing of clothing accounts for a third of all pollutants from the fashion industry as a whole.
I used an end of stock shocking pink silk satin to line this beautiful luxury pale turquoise chiffon dress, which is great, if like me you are only making limited edition garments instead of requiring hundreds of metres of the same fabric. The dress design was chosen to explore the creation of a pattern which uses less fabric waste in the making.
Now a couple of back stage pictures at the venue when I am fitting my garments on the models the night before and I was happy everything fitted perfectly so no dramas there! Below my final line up of the collection and am so pleased with the whole look of the show.
I am grateful for the whole experience of showing my collection at the House of iKons show it has been a great learning process for me and an opportunity to research ways to make my garments more ethical and sustainable. I feel that all the supply chains now face similar challenges if they want to be part of the change and the effects that the fashion industry has on our planet. The ethical components to make garments need to be available for there to be progress and designers like myself need to be creative in different ways with the resources we have available. I am always creating unique pieces for evening and occasion wear and searching for low impact materials, including UK fabrics, deadstock fabrics as well as eco friendly and sustainable choices.
I currently source all of my own fabrics, design, cut, make and finish every garment myself. I also make bespoke pieces for individuals who can't find what they want on the high street, which I feel is also a sustainable way to buy clothing, as you are having exactly what you want, it's made to measure and will hopefully be a treasured garment for many years to come. The fast fashion way of doing things is very harmful to our environment as people buy and throw away so many garments now and this cycle must slow down or be replaced by more effective alternatives.
I just want to thank Pardesi Photos for these amazing catwalk images, Savita Kaye CEO of House of iKons for organising the show, all the fabulous models and back stage helpers and Dens Creative Event team for hair and make up!
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