02/10/2014

before & after: granny dress



I love nothing more than getting something for nothing. 

On a muggy early-summer morning I made my way to London and, feeling particularly brave that day, found myself navigating the mountains of secondhand clothes in the East End Thrift Store. Their pay-per-bagfull policy means that after some persistent rummaging and tactical folding you can walk away with some absolute bargs. 

As I wandered from the denim section over to the till, some peacock-like fabric caught my eye. I held the dress up against myself. It was disgusting, yes, but it seemed like a waste, when there was just enough room in my bag to squeeze in another item, to leave it sitting sadly atop a pile of rejected leotards. So I squirrelled it amongst my other findings and proceeded to the cashiers, without the faintest idea of what to do with it. 

When I got home I savagely chopped out the shoulder pads and snipped off the arms, raised the waistline and discarded the tacky gold buttons. 
It's still disgusting, but maybe a little less than before. 
It's just fun to see what a little ole' DIYing can do. 

Oh well, I'll just give it to my sister. 

17/09/2014

espadrilles


Espadrilles have been in fashion for approximately 4000 years. 
No, seriously. Check out the Archaeological Museum of Granada is you don't believe me. 
So it's not at all surprising that you can walk into any high street store and still find pairs on sale. 

Yet while these high street pairs still look the same as the espadrilles that have been worn in Spain and France for many centuries, they are hardly traditional. 
The skills used in the customary way of making them, which have been handed down from generation to generation, have been shunned to give way to cheap, mechanical production methods miles away. 

But this craftsmanship has not lost forever.
Deep amongst the rambling foothills of the Sierra de Alcarama, in the Spanish province of La Rioja, lies the village of Cervera del Rio Alhama: The last village where the espadrille is still handmade. 
The shoes are crafted using traditional techniques, and even lovingly handstitched by the village's own abuelas.
The result? Totally comfy, totally environmentally friendly, and totally ethical. 

You can try them out for yourself here, and learn a little bit more about how they are made here 

10/09/2014

transparency


If I were to ask you: "Where is your dress from?", what would your reply be?
I'll hold on while you check the label. What does the cotton stitching read?
Zara? Topshop?
Ah yes, just last season's ASOS that you threw on this morning. It looks great, by the way. Really brings out your eyes. Doesn't make your butt look big at all.

But that's not what I meant.

Now check the other label. The one that tells you that your dress is 97% polyester and 3% elastane, whatever that means, with all those weird washing symbols that only your mum understands. The one that you've probably cut out because it tickled your thighs when you sat down.

Found it? Great. Now look really, really closely. In a small, sans serif font, probably capitalised...Can you see it? Those three little words that no one pays much attention to. The ones that manufacturers are obligated to declare on your purchases, that tell you that your dress was MADE IN CAMBODIA. Or is it Bangladesh? Or Turkey?
Your outfit is more well travelled than most of us will ever be. It has seen parts of the world that we would struggle locate on a map. But we don't pay attention to that. It's shocking how little we actually know about the origins of our clothes.

I was one of those snotty, irritating children with bags of curiosity and very little sense. My response to every question answered was always, to my mother's annoyance, "but why?"
I wanted to know everything. Why does the sky have to be blue? Why does the grass have to be green? Why can't I have another biscuit...?

And the thing is, I still want to know everything. I want to know more about where my clothes come from than just what the tiny text of the country of origin printed on the label lets on. It's easy to forget that on the other end of the industrial spectrum to you and your debit card, the jacket you're about to purchase from your favourite high-street shop has been sewn up in a factory three-thousand miles away, by a group of hard working seamstresses, working its way along a production chain of hundreds of identical jackets before being packed away and shipped over to be distributed.

But I do want to know who sewed up the side seams on my jacket. I want to know that they are doing alright. I want to know what kind of music they like, what their daughter's called, what she wants to be when she's older, how they like their eggs in the morning. 

Maybe if we knew a little more about where are clothes come from and who made them, we would treat them as the creations they are, products of time and energy and skills and finite resources, not just value them by the number on the price tag.

So, fashion industry, this is my plea: let's try for a little transparency.

03/09/2014

autumn lovelist

autumn


// Fair+True beanie // Monkee Genes skinnies // Go Green cami top // second hand via Etsy denim jacket // MIJLO rucksack // Veja trainers // Arthouse Meath notebook // Aura Que purse //
And coffee, of course. Lots of it. 

I'm finishing up last bits of homework, tracking down stray maths textbooks and convincing myself that colour coding all of my folders is a complete necessity.
Sitting with bleary eyes and mourning as the last dregs of summer drain away.

I start my last year at school tomorrow.
So whilst pretending that that thought doesn't scare me witless, I've pieced together a little lovelist of my back-to-school essentials from some of my favourite ethical sources.


Take a peek at a couple of these brands, I dare you. It's awesome to see the ethics behind the production of their clothes (which are pretty awesome too).

19/08/2014

study


Study is the NY-based contemporary womenswear brand founded by Tara St James.
They follow the slow fashion principal: designing, creating and buying garments for quality and longevity.
By encouraging slower production schedules, fair wages, low carbon footprints and minimal waste, Study promotes an ethical and sustainable standpoint within the modern fashion industry.
It's definitely one to watch.
Click to learn more about what they do, and the talented hands who make their garments.

15/08/2014

the perfect wardrobe

The perfect wardrobe. The ultimate combination of style, quality, versatilely, comfort and function. It's an elusive concept that is the obsession of many.

Because surely this would be the ideal, instead of that overflowing closet in the corner of your bedroom, stuffed to the brim with unworn impulse buys and bargain low quality garments that are yet to see the light of day, leaving you surrounded by a sea of clothes but standing helplessly in your underwear whining "I've got nothing to wear!" To have ownership of a selective collection of a few interchangeable items; a consummate capsule wardrobe to erase the prospect of any future outfit planning dramas. Would this not be better?

So why is it that we still insist on hoarding mounds of odd garments, investing in whimsical trends over key pieces? Is it because we're restless? Indecisive? Greedy, even? Probably. And while the concept of the perfect wardrobe, curated and engineered to maximise use of a small number of simple and versatile items and minimise effort and waste, is more than a little attractive, at what level of order and regulation would the satisfaction of organisation overpower this incessant need to buy buy buy?

But does the perfect wardrobe even exist? I wonder whether our tastes for fast and fleeting fashions have banished the possibility of reaching a stable state of content with our wardrobes. There is no sort of guide that I am yet to come across that can tell you the means of forming such a thing, of tailoring your wardrobe to fit your personal needs. There is no equation to help you solve the optimum number of different trouser styles to own; no map to help you discover the required types of dresses to have.
What is there to say that the ownership of the perfect wardrobe is a tangible state?

Perhaps there is no such thing as the perfect wardrobe after all, just a Gatsby-esque dream that is hopelessly pursued, where the point of achievement lurks behind our consumeristic natures, lingering forever slightly out of reach.

13/08/2014

impurity



As promised, here are the pictures of my garment.

The title for my concept was "Impurity".
Through my research I was exploring different interpretations of the word, both abstract and literal: traditional notions of virginity and purity as well as physical chemical impurities like smoke.

From there, I used photoshop to design my print, which was then printed onto fabric using a digital printer (literally like a huge scale ink printer for fabric - it was pretty awesome).

After a couple of scrawled designs, trial runs and mental preparations (those industrial overlockers are pretty darn scary), I started to make the dress.

As soon as it was finished, it was whisked away to the photo shoot to be worn by the gorgeous Nicola and shot by very talented Viva.

So, Ta-Daa, here you have it.