Do we need to stop shopping? For the ethical fashion editor, this is always the dilemma: why promote a new ethical label when we should be telling you to make do and mend. The answer is, because the actionable solution is a combination of both: using what you own creatively but buying well when you really want to. Where better to start than with these five superb UK-born and bred labels which – either overtly or quietly – working as sustainably as possible. Enjoy.
Central Saint Martins graduate RICHARD MALONE combines a love of sculptural forms and zingy – almost tacky – colour with a philosophy deeply embedded in his background amongst Ireland’s rebellious working class teens. Sustainability lies at the heart of his work: yarns are sourced from the Himalayas and Malone works with a community of female artisans in Tamil Nadu, Southern India, to hand-weave fabrics and dye them naturally.
WHAT THEY SAY:
‘One of Malone’s remarkable talents in his ability to translate inspiration found in his hometown of Wexford, Ireland into elegantly-constructed garments that are simultaneously sculptural and easy to wear.’ Olivia Singer, British Vogue,
“Richard – whose proudly working class background has regularly informed his designs – is not one for needless flights of fancy. Instead, he prioritises the reality of practicality.” LOVE Magazine
Paris-born FAUSTINE STEINMETZ completed her Masters in Central Saint Martins under the guidance of Professor OBE Louise Wilson before launching a label famed for trompe l’oeil “denims”; felted, distressed, deconstructed, made in accordance with Steinmetz’s belief in craftsmanship over consumption for the sake of it. In 2017, Steinmetz was awarded the €25,000 Swarovski Collective Award. Sustainability takes place in different forms throughout the work – ranging from her love of intense handworking to her use of recycled denims and a collaboration with African artisans in SS17.
WHAT THEY SAY:
“[She is] a technician of fabric, so adept at manipulating textures that she is an almost supernatural dreamweaver …. a shining example of where craft, creativity and technique converge into effortless beauty.” Dazed Media CEO and Co-founder Jefferson Hack.
“Her sustainable and ethical design approach, and the innovative and visually stunning use of crystal in her collections make her a unique talent and an emerging role model for the industry,” Nadja Swarovski.
“MADDIE WILLIAMS’ visual signature as a designer is highly structured, exaggerated silhouettes paired with textural and innovative textiles, which are often hand crafted or embellished. She works conceptually and uses ideals and narratives to drive her design process. The narrative of her graduate collection imagines a group of six Goddess- type figures who are here to serve as the antithesis of the Elitist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy and strike fear into the hearts of harmful Corporations. Unhindered by the constraints of advertising and corporate power, they dress to celebrate their bodies in a way that they dictate. Her collection is enhanced through highlighting feminine attributes. Each piece is made from reclaimed or renewable materials, including British wool sourced directly from farms and dyed using plants, Yurt window off-cuts and reclaimed Royal Mail post sacks.” www.fashioncrossover-london.com
Luxury, humour, print, design combine in MOTHER OF PEARL, founded by Damien Hirst’s ex-wife Maia Norman in 2002 but helmed by Amy Powney since 2015. Based in East London, the brand – which won the 2017 British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund with Palmer Harding – fuses easy shapes with luxe fabrications, drawing references from Powney’s childhood in the North of England and from the strength and femininity of the women around her – as well as the sportswear trends of her teenage years in the 90s. Without being overt, Powney is passionate about being as sustainable as possible in everything she does.
WHAT THEY SAY
“Powney’s unstoppable energy and focus have propelled this from an all too niche piece of whimsy into a fashionable – and relatively affordable – favourite with its own buzzing website …. a source of embellished yet pragmatic tomboyish femininity,” Lisa Armstrong, Daily Telegraph.
CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN’s constant innovation and imaginativeness are probably the most compelling forces for bringing sustainable design into the mainstream at London Fashion Week. A graduate of London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, Raeburn re-appropriates military fabrics to create high concept pieces; his signature work includes iconic outerwear created from de-commissioned parachutes. The ‘Re-made’ ethos still guides and influences every aspect of the Christopher Ræburn design and development process; a Christopher Ræburn product is defined by distinctive aesthetic, meticulous detail, considered functionality, and sustainable intelligence. Collaborations – with, most recently, Finisterre, the West Country cold water surf brand and the boot brand Palladium – brings in new ideas and new audiences.
WHAT THEY SAY:
“Raeburn’s message is as compellingly come-hither as a shaft of light beamed from land in stormy weather. Moral sanctuary that looks good and wears well.” Luke Leitch, vogue.com