Sunday, 22 February 2009

a dedicated follower of fashion...

Those of you who have met me will know that my fashion tastes can only be described as eclectic. Vintage is sometimes thrown in there, along with 40's, 50's and plain old weird. Charity shop chic is another label I am proud to wear on my secondhand lapels, so you may find it odd that I am extremely interested in fashion as a whole, and love to watch the catwalk shows.

Sometimes this is for the sheer spectacle and imagination poured into the event, but I mostly enjoy ogling at the structured shapes of clothes that wiggle their way towards the cameras. I am a very strong believer that all design, across the board of disciplines can be pared down to a few key elements - spatial awareness, form, mass and void, movement (or lack of), colour and functionality. From a jacket to a typeface, these can be applied in one way or another. This is how an inspirational cut for a jacket can manifest itself in my sketchbook as a chair, or a garden plan, and how colour combinations in a shoe end up as the basis of a planting plan or an interior scheme.
All designers do this, sometimes without thinking. We are all a sounding board for each other - designers or not, which goes back to my favourite phrase 'you can find inspiration in everything and if you can't look again' (Paul Smith). We all must see as well as look.

But something else exciting happened at London Fashion Week 2009 - the government has got involved. Our minister for sustainability, Lord Hunt, revealed the spanking new Sustainable Clothing Action Plan at the now firmly rooted Estethica eco fashion element of LFW.
Unfortunately, this is not a set of regulations (give it time), but essentially a code of practices that will be adopted by all those signing up. The action plan will tackle the full loop, from the raw materials and manufacture of the clothes, abolishing exploitative labour, using innovative materials such as bamboo and nettles through to how to wash at lower temperatures and dispose of the clothes responsibly at the end of their life, by recycling or donating to charity. Some 300 retailers have signed their names on the dotted line.

So will this tackle the nationwide and infamous 'Primark effect' where items are bought, worn once then chucked? I think probably not. If there is no perceived value in an item, then we have been conditioned into thinking it is a throwaway. We all should be throwing any unwanted items into the charity bin, but the same questions will always be asked - if you can buy a top for £1 however, how much are those being paid to make it? Does cheap mean unethical and unsustainable? And at the time of a credit crunch, not many will be able to resist the urge of buying ten things instead of one, key item.

We need recondititoning, but at least it's a start.

But as the sun is shining on me, and I am in far to good a mood to end a ranty post with nothing but the vast expanse of bleakness that lies ahead, here are some nice links to some very interesting ethical designers - take a look and don't forget to see...

Beyond Skin - tasty shoes and based down the road from me in Hove
Ciel - lovely structure and also based down the road in Hove
Nahui Ollin - fantastic bags made from sweet wrappers ( got one for Christmas - love it)
Eloise Grey - I love proper tweeds, and Eloise pushes all the right buttons
From Somewhere - upcycling at its best
Izzy Lane - ethical knitted stuff - made in Britain.
Veja - sorry - more shoes, plus practice your French on their website

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