Thursday, 31 January 2013

Straight From The Source For 2013

If you needed any proof of the vitality of the ethical fashion sector (like this blog isn't enough for you?) then the first day of the Ethical Fashion Forum's Source Brand Preview 2013 should have been very convincing. It was jam-packed with presentations and talks from well-respected names and exciting young pioneers, all aiming to show that sustainability and eco-credentials are becoming a massively important watch word in markets worldwide.
It was a full day of events, covering new and established brands, luxury and bridal wear, and for the first time, an hour on menswear. As a stylish and sophistomocated chap it was good to see my needs finally being catered to. Let's not mention the Angry Birds pants I'm wearing today.
There are some distinct trends emerging in ethical fashion. Top players are diversifying and expanding their ranges, and tailoring their goods to specific markets. At the same time, we're seeing a lot of cultural fusion, whether in the design of the clothes, or in the way the entrepreneurs are interacting with their factories and manufacturers. This is really important--decent communication with artisans from different cultures ensures smooth running of the production line. Brands like Choolips and Lalesso stress the importance of effective collaboration. Annagret of Choolips goes further, chatting with everyone involved in the creation of the her funky Africentric clothing to make sure they're comfortable with how things are run. There needs to be a balance between the cutting-edge process a lot of these young guns are using, and the deep traditions of the artisans that are making them.
There's a real sense of concentration on fit, comfort and finish, especially in the eco-luxe brands. More than one attendee noted that Fairtrade and good practice need to be an underlying principle rather than the main reason for buying the clothes. Claire Lissaman for shirt-maker Arthur And Henry pointed out that she wasn't just aiming her clothes at the eco-concsious male, but at the man who wanted a really good, long-lasting shirt for work.
Longevity seems to be a keyword, tying into Pier Crush Vivienne Westwood's mantra of "Buy Less. Choose Well. Make It Last." Finnish designer Anniina Nurmi is making jeans for men and women from a solid cotton/hemp mix. They're built to last, and simply styled to stay on trend season after season.
There was a real determination to smash preconceptions about Fairtrade, and many designers at the preview were pushing clothes that had sharp silhouettes and edgy styling. There's nothing wrong with bold ethnic prints and loose fit, but it's good to have a choice. I especially liked Kowtow's clever, angular basics and 8045's clean-lined menswear.
There were some real innovators at the event. It was great to hear from Ann Runnel of Reet Aus, who's figured out a way to use textile waste at a mass-market scale, creating patchwork skirts and jodhpurs on a huge production line in Bangladesh. José Hendo's is exploring the use of different fabrics from surprising places. She's the first designer to source her organic cotton and hemp entirely from the UK, and she's innovative in her use of barkcloth from Uganda. This is a traditional material that, as the name suggests, is made from a particular treebark. Eminantly sustainable (a fresh harvest from the same trees every year) and desirable to boot--in Uganda, tribal elders and kings wear clothes made from barkcloth. It has the look and feel of suede, apparantly.
It was nice to see some Pier chums at the event too: Katie from Mantis World revealed a massive expansion in their range, and the launch of a new wholesale arm. Pants To Poverty showed off their new collection of lounge and sleepwear, and showed how the last year has shown them move from a minor player to a big noise in the ethical marketplace. And it's always nice to see Nancy Dee and their feminine, flattering vintage silhouettes--a classic look with a modern twist.
I've barely scratched the surface of the goodies at the Brand Preview, and the good news is, it's not over yet. The event continues today, looking at jewellery, lingerie and footwear. Look out for Pier chums like Katcha Bilek and Blysia. The event is online, free to register and you can pick up from anywhere with an internet collection.
If you can't make the time today, the streams and Powerpoints are available to browse and download at your leisure. Now, you can't say fairer than that, can you?
The 2013 Source Brand Preview is the place to be to find out about how this year is shaping up in ethical fashion. The synopsis? It's looking GOOD.
The 2013 Source Brand Preview.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Great summary and thanks for mentioning Arthur & Henry.

    Thought you might like to know that the mobile version of your blog is unreadable (comes out as pale font on pale background). Have screenshot can tweet or email you. Contact us @arthurandhenry or