September 20, 2010 by Cath
Beautiful Soul is a label on CSF’s Business Support Programme. They have launched a short creative film to celebrate their SS10 Collection.
You can watch Believe – SS:11 – HERE
I have drawn a team of creatives together, including an illustrator, photographer/filmmaker and stylist. Their enthusiasm matched my own and we each take full credit for this film. With regards to the music, I thought the song was perfect, as both Gabby Young and I share an ethos of supporting the growth of emerging talent and we are fans of each others work. My collection came to life listening to this song.
The film takes you on a dreamlike journey through our spring/summer 2011 collection. A girl wanders through varied illustrated landscapes, she is dreaming and her dreams come to life around her.
September 14, 2010 by Cath
The CSF is delighted to welcome Lucy Williams from BLINK LONDON as a guest contributor to the CSF bulletin. Here is her fascinating first post on ‘Empathy’:
Well, here goes with my first ever guest blog post. I was honoured and also a little nerve wracked by the request, but hopefully I’ve managed come up with the goods…
The CSF team asked me to consider the word ‘Empathy’ for this month’s subject matter. So I put my thinking cap on and got my trusty Collins English dictionary out. After first thinking that it was a bit of an abstract concept to apply to fashion, I totally reconsidered my view point when I realised that if you don’t have empathy for your manufacturers, your collaborators, partners and customers then you would pretty much fall at the first fashion hurdle.
Collaborations are super hot topic right now, especially with Lanvin planning to add luxury to H&M with a collection landing instore in November, as well as Gap working with Valentino’s designers for a collection that will be featured in Colette. When I interview creatives for the “Blink” blog, I often ask whether they work best alone or in collaboration with others. The answer is generally that collaborations are not the easiest things to do, but are often the most creatively rewarding. You absolutely must have empathy for the other creative party for a successful collaboration. So, I started looking at partnerships and collaborations that I think are incredibly creatively successful. This lead me to The Inoue Brothers…
Not only does this brand work in a brilliantly collaborative way both internally and externally, they are also working in a wonderfully sustainable and conscious way too. I felt this made them the perfect subject matter for the CSF’s blog- as well as reflecting the meaning of ‘Empathy’.
Born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark, Japanese brothers Satoru and Kiyoshi Inoue combine Japanese sensibility and Scandinavian simplicity to create a really rather unique creative aesthetic that they term ‘Skandinasian’. In 2005, The Inoue Brothers launched a unique collaboration with the people of Bolivia to create hand-knitted Alpaca garments with sustainability, ethics and social responsibility at the heart of the collection. The Inoue Brothers are also working on a collection produced in South Africa, incorporating the traditional, indigenous craft of beadwork.
We were delighted when the team agreed to this interview. Thanks so much, particularly to Daniel, for your help and such a fantastic insight into what the Inoue Brothers is all about.
How do you go about deciding where to work and who to work with on your collections?
We started designing for clients in the UK and Denmark but mostly graphic and conceptual design. Since we were teenagers, we’ve always been fascinated by fashion but more as an artistic expression and not the industry. The vanity, greed and exploitation often seen in some areas of fashion had kept us away from it. However when we, through a common friend, were introduced to the alpaca fibre and craftsmanship of the indigenous people of Bolivia, we knew immediately this was something of interest. Finally, we saw a way of working with fashion whilst contributing socially, approaching the business and industry with content.
Our work ethics has now been established with this spirit, seeking out communities where craftsmanship and cultural heritages are rich. The communities we chose to collaborate with for our projects are therefore purposely chosen for their less enriched history of financial stability and opportunity.
How does the idea of sustainability impact on your collection?
Sustainability can mean a lot of things in regard to what context the term is used. In one sense the way sustainability impacts our collection is the way we chose to treat our production workers – with the utmost respect and decency. We demand a lot from them, but we are always sure to meet their demands – financially and work ethics wise. In another sense of sustainability we want to show the world what cultural crafts can be communicated in a new light. For example the Alpaca and the knitting that comes from its wool is a cultural heritage of the indigenous people of the Andes. In the same sense the beading crafts of the indigenous women of South Africa is a big part of their cultural heritage – and we aim to make these the focal point of our collections.
What are you currently working on and how is it shaping up?
At the moment we are preparing our Spring Summer 2011 collections in collaboration with the same community – Khayelitsha. We are also working on our Autumn/Winter collection continually with the people of the Bolivian Andes. This collection will be our biggest to date. We also have very exciting ideas developing, which will be released in the near future.
What does the word ‘empathy’ mean to you and your business?
The very simple meaning of the word is ‘to share’. To share ideas, emotions and opportunities to better any circumstances with the outset of beginning with oneself.
How important do you think it is to respect the traditional cultural heritage and skills of the area you are manufacturing in?
It is of utmost importance! We work from a basis of empowerment. We want the people who we commission to feel proud that their cultural heritages as crafts are spread and sold in the Western world. We hope it empowers their everyday to strengthen and develop their culture and identity as a community.
What or who are your longest standing design influences?
Our main design influences are the people we work with. On the other hand we are very influenced by Comme des Garcon’s spirit in their boldness of style. As kids our dream was to work with them in some way and in 2008 this dream came true when we were approached to work on a collaboration. With their words, the reason they found us interesting was because they could sense a passion in the way we choose to work.
Has your business developed in the way that you anticipated?
We can safely say no. When we start a new project we have some initial ideas, but we always end up somewhere completely unexpected. When we go on research trips we take a long time before, preparing ourselves as not to have any preconceived ideas about the places we are going. We strive to keep an open heart and mind everywhere we go and embrace any culture we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to encounter. Therefore, we don’t know what our future holds, however as long as we uncompromisingly strive to uphold our beliefs we are sure for it to be with headwind but guaranteed excitement.
Many of your collections have been knitwear focused. Is this due to your own passion for knit or more due to the traditions and local skill set of place you were manufacturing?
Good question. Initially we started with knit due to the previously explained opportunity we had to engage in the fashion industry. But now, four years later, knitting has become something of passion for sure. It’s very hard not to get super excited about the end product when so much work, effort and love has been put into it!
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
Scandinasian! It is a mix of Scandinavian simplicity and Japanese sensibility.
What’s the best thing about your job?
One of the best things about our job is overcoming obstacles that initially seem impossible and in retrospect seeing how all the little details and would be coincidences actually makes perfect sense. This always makes us smile. Another is when we see the positive impact in every aspect of the realms we work in, especially the privilege we have to work so closely with our manufacturing collaborators and clients and the positive vibrations they give us. This is something we are truly grateful for.
Any final words of advise?
Our way of working is all about the people we are privileged enough to be able to work with. The most valued part of our business is the relations we make and the new ones to come. These are only upheld when respect and human decency is the basis. And for us these things only appear when we feel we are able to empathize with our relations.
Click here for a link to “UBUNTU – The Tale” on-line film
No man is an island entire of it self
Every man is a part of the main.
John Donne (1624)
Evgenia Tabakova and Pedro Noronha-Feio form the exciting design collective White Tent, launched in 2007.
White Tent uses performance textiles and laser cutting to create womenswear with an edge. Evgenia and Pedro are committed to exploring the use of sustainable materials in their collections, including organic and recycled yarns. The pair also strongly believe in social responsibility and are working on strategies to ensure that White Tent is a brand that integrates sustainable practices at every level, creating a business that operates to the highest environmental standards.
The Autumn/Winter 10-11 collection was developed around the confrontation between straight and curved lines. It sparked an exploration of asymmetric forms, working with ideas of perspective and fluidity, rewriting the rules that traditionally define pieces of clothing in an energetic and exciting way. This energy is enhanced by the eclectic choice of materials and textures including denim, wool blends, leather and sheepskin combined with metallic finishes and strong colour blocking.
White Tent is based in Lisbon, Portugal and London, UK. Since 2007 Evgenia and Pedro have shown their work in Lisbon Fashion Week.
Sam Wingate was determined to become an architect until he discovered his passion for textiles on an Art Foundation course. After graduating with a BA in Textiles from Norwich School of Art in 2005, he moved to London where Sam started off by selling his prints on t-shirts and bags on Brick Lane. The printed product still shows signs of Sam’s love of architecture through the signature ‘building’ motifs which are a strong theme throughout his collections.
Sam Wingate has just opened his new shop and studio space on Columbia Road. Here you can see him sketching, sewing and printing his collection of cushions, tea towels, bags and T shirts featuring tone-on-tone graphics, vivid colours and imaginative and quirky designs that are a core element of the Mr Wingate brand of today. He has also expanded into homewares, including amazingly intricately printed wallpapers and a cushion collection titled “The East End Pub Crawl”, a series of four cushions in different colours, each one printed with a stylish interpretation of the pubs stops along the way. Wingate has also put his name to aprons, gift tags and napkins, all with his signature nouveau retro architectural images and Sam Wingate is firmly establishing a new concept of interior design.
As well as huge successes under his own label, Sam has also worked on some incredible commissions, working with brands such as DKNY who commissioned wallpaper for the Bond Street flagship store after they spotted his work at the “New Designers” Graduate show.
We asked Sam about the sustainable aspects of his brand and this was his response:
“Since taking part in the seminars at CSF I have changed my t-shirt collection over to being constructed from organic cotton, and I am currently working on sourcing a suitable organic cotton for my range of interior products.
I have also re-assessed my printing process to incorporate a greater sense of water consumption, designing prints that use fewer colours and that share elements of other prints, reducing the use of water in the process. I am also concentrating more on producing products that have a longer lifespan with the consumer, products that someone will cherish for years rather than throw away after a few months.”
September 7, 2010 by Cath
The British Fashion Council founded Estethica, sponsored by Monsoon, over four years ago to showcase the growing movement of cutting edge designers committed to working in a sustainable way. Estethica, now in its ninth season has evolved to become the hub of London’s ethical fashion industry. The success of this initiative, the strongest of its kind internationally, is evident in its rapid growth from its first season of 13 designers to 37 designers in this season’s Estethica collective.
All Estethica designers adhere to at least one of the three Estethica principles of fair-trade and ethical practices, organic and recycled materials and are selected for both their ethical credentials and design excellence.
As part of CSF’s commitment to supporting and catalysing change in fashion, we have developed a programme of workshops and one-to-one mentoring for London based fashion businesses. Through CSF’s business support programme we encourage engagement with the sustainability agenda at a variety of different levels working towards new ways of doing business through the adoption of strategies.
Each season at London Fashion Week we showcase a selection of brands at Estethica that embody sustainable design strategies in action. This season we will show four exciting new brands; Borders and Frontiers, Josie Beckett, Martina Spetlova and Romina Karamanea.
The project is part financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund and is fully subsidised for small and medium sized fashion businesses registered in the Greater London area.
S/S 11 Brands
Romina Karamanea – www.rominakaramanea.com
Martina Spetlova – www.martinaspetlova.com
Borders and Frontiers – www.bordersandfrontiers.com
Josie Beckett – www.whereisjosienow.com
More information on Estethica can be found here
More information on our Business Support Programme can be found here
The Garden Party – an integral part of Start – is a twelve day festival to be held in some of the most iconic but seldom seen venues in central London.
What: The event aims to demonstrate the small steps that can be taken by all of us interested in building a more sustainable future, whilst at the same time giving people of all ages a fun day out in the heart of London. The exhibition will include an Ethical Fashion area in the Red Cross tent.
When: 8th-19th September 2010, doors will open from 10.00am to 6.00pm, with last entry at 4.00 pm. (Sunday 19th September will open from 12.00pm to 6.00pm)
Where: The Gardens of Clarence House (The Prince of Wales’ official residence), Lancaster House (next door to Clarence House), Marlborough House (Headquarters of the Commonwealth), Bridgewater House and Spencer House (both along the side of Green Park). The event will also cover the side of The Mall on Horse Ride.
For more information please click here