Fashion Revolution Day 2015: the brands
On 24 April 2013, 1,133 people died in the collapse of Rana Plaza in Dhaka, Bangladesh. They were killed working for familiar fashion brands in one of many ‘accidents’ that plague the industry.
Last year, a global coalition got together to commemorate the one year anniversary of Rana Plaza and to call for reform of the fashion supply chain.
Fashion Revolution Day 2014 was big; 2015 looks set to be even bigger. Eight labels were used in the campaign's promotional imagery, styled by Alice Wilby of Novel Beings, a collective of 'conscious creatives'.
All were chosen for their immaculate practices but all are different, showing the variety of practice possible under the umbrella of 'ethical fashion.' I talk to the people behind each label about their work.
New label GF HAWTHORNE is the brainchild of twins Grace and Faith. Classic sports shapes infuse their work, heightened by a playful surrealism.
Bel: Where were the clothes made? GF: The garments in the shoot were manufactured in-house and printed digitally in east London. We focus on sustainable production and are developing the brand alongside artisanal UK craftsmen. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day important? GF: It raises awareness as to where our clothes have been produced. It makes us value the craftsmanship and expertise that has gone into the production of the garment.
Heritage handcrafts and vintage detail, zero waste and upcycling are now integral to MICHELLE LOWE HOLDER’s exuberant accessories brand.
Bel: How is production in Britain integral to your brand? Michelle: We create handmade pieces - the pieces used in the shoot are hand cut tulle cuffs and end-of-line vintage ribbon necklaces. It’s great to develop crafts and techniques in-studio; it’s much more immediate, with more control and ability to improve. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day important? Michelle: People need to realise the ‘human’ element of making to fully understand the value of fashion clothing. Rana Plaza was tragic and will hopefully serve as a reminder of how far ‘our’ collective hunger for fast fashion has come. It remains a bleak reality check but also a point at which our attitude towards making and fashion can change for the better.
RACHEL ENTWISTLE creates powerfully evocative jewellery which recalls amulets and ancient cultures yet remains defiantly modern. Bel: Was the decision to make in Britain conscious? Rachel: Yes, it's important to me to preserve traditional crafts and support local businesses. Our business has gone from strength to strength based on this philosophy and our customers genuinely appreciate that we design and make all our jewellery in our studio in Shoreditch, using a mix of traditional techniques and modern technology. They like to know they are purchasing something with a genuine story - not just another manufactured high street product. Bel: What do you think about Fashion Revolution Day? Rachel: It helps focus on the impact our decisions make on the lives of others. It’s easy to consume without thinking about the circumstances in which our products were made. If we saw the conditions and welfare of the people involved in their production, we’d think twice about buying.
JOANNE CAVE’s collections are peppered with intricate lace-detail, inspired by the culture and nature of the remote Aegean island.
Bel: Where do you make? Joanna: Athens. The Greeks have an old tradition in jewellery-making with some of the best silversmiths in the world. I wanted to produce in Athens because I’m half Greek and the economic crisis has really affected the jewellery business. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day is important? Joanna: For creating awareness in people. It’s a path, highlighting the people behind the scenes and forcing brands to become transparent and ethical.
Feminine shapes in gorgeous prints, BEAUTIFUL SOUL is committed to a conscious approach to making - and to local, UK-based production.
Bel: Describe the suit used in the campaign. Beautiful Soul: The suit is from our SS15 collection. The print was inspired by one of my favourite films, ‘The Secret Garden’, produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The pink roses were selected from local flower stalls in Portobello; the white lace pieces sourced from a Nottingham lace factory and end-of-line fabrics from other British design houses. Material remnants are used in covered buttons and embellishments, which adheres to the brand’s policy of zero-waste, where every last thread of fabric is used in the creative process. Bel: Why is it important to you to make in Britain? Beautiful Soul: As founder of a luxury fashion label, it’s my responsibility to build a transparent supply chain. There is a proud emphasis on UK-based production, supporting the regeneration of UK manufacturing and textile production. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day important? Beautiful Soul: To raise awareness and inspire the next generation of designers to create a more sustainable future.
KATIE JONES' knitwear - exubertant, modern twists on handmade pieces - embodies the designer’s vision of making something beautiful from nothing.
Bel: Tell me about the garment used in the campaign. Katie: The jumper, from my first collection, was made from a secondhand aran jumper, found in a charity shop and reworked by hand using designer surplus yarn.
Bel: You make and produce in Britain. Katie: The make is my favourite part so it was important to stay involved in the whole process. Also, it’s important for me to keep the hand skills that were once the norm alive. I love being able to train a team up and celebrate these skills.
Bel: What are the benefits of Fashion Revolution Day? Katie: It’s great to make people ask who made their clothes. As a consumer culture, we love a bargain and it’s time to start thinking who's really paying the cost for it.
LINNIE MCLARTY's fine art background shows in sculptural jewellery which explores the nature of adornment. She is one of the first licensess worldwide for Fairtrade, Fairmined gold. Bel: Where does the piece used in the campaign come from? Linnie: It was handmade by me in my London studio. It's from my 'jealous much?' collection, made from 100% recycled silver and 18ct eco-gold plated bronze. Having my own business means that I have absolute control over the materials I use. Bel: You make in Britain. Why is it important to you? Linnie: I make both bespoke and small runs of jewellery, which means everything is designed and made by hand in my London studio. I'm happy to outsource some elements of the work, such as polishing and I only need to go as far at Hatton Garden. The jewellery industry in the UK is surprisingly small and really friendly; it’s a very special and unique microcosm of skills and areas of expertise that are dying out and we shouldn't take it for granted that they will be around forever. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day important? Linnie: It's a great way of highlighting the need for huge changes to how the fashion industry operates. Not only does it show manufacturers that the public has become increasingly aware of the more questionable aspects of how they produce, it also opens up the idea of an alternative.
Khandiz Joni set up WARDROBE BANK last year, aiming to store clothes that could then be hired out to other shoot teams. The project is currently in hiatus. Bel: Tell me the philosophy of Wardrobe Bank. Khandiz: What makes the piece of item shot for the campaign a 'conscious' item is that it's a piece of clothing purchased for a previous shoot. By having it in the Wardrobe Bank, it gets reused instead of teams having to go buy the same item again. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day is important? Khandiz: FRD gives us a visual, in-your-face reminder of being more aware of the entire evolutionary line our clothing takes. In today’s society, visual reminders are imperative.
The aesthetic may be Edwardian dandy but the sensibilities are highly ethical. Since its launch in 2008, A CHILD OF THE JAGO has been making small runs of fine quality clothing out of end-of-line cloths from British mills.
Bel: Tell me about the garment used in the shoot. Joe: The brown linen rigger trousers are based on a hybrid between 150-year-old Victorian working men's trousers and old sailor trousers. It’s big and baggy with lots of useful pockets. Bel: Was it a conscious decision to Make British? Joe: Yes, it is a conscious decision to produce everything in the UK. We search out and buy fabrics that are ends-of-lines left on the shelf. Everything is made in small batches and is non-repeatable which is why we don't do shows and wholesale. We produce pieces with small manufacturers in the UK that have high quality standards and we also have our own small manufacturing unit, so we make things as we need them without such strict deadlines like the rest of the industry. Our customers don't mind waiting a bit for something special. We subscribe to the Vivienne Westwood idea of 'Buy Less, Choose Well, Make it Last ' because if we want to change the system it has to start from there. Bel: Why is Fashion Revolution Day important? Joe: It’s important for people to understand the power they have in their wallet, which companies they want to support and which ones they don’t. If people don't buy it, they will stop making it or, at least, they will change the way they make things.