With the Source Awards coming up, I've been presented with a chance to highlight some exciting and innovative brands and producers. As always, The Ethical Fashion Forum have chosen some strikingly creative people to honour with nominations and, of course, awards. I thought I'd stick my oar in and raise a glass to five nominees that I believe have a good chance of snagging a prize.
I wanted to start by focusing on the menswear category because, you know, I'm a man and I wear, you know, clothes. I'm a little sorry not to see Clare Lissaman's Arthur And Henry shirts in the running this go-round. Instead, I've plumped for Cock And Bull, a menswear company that produces a fine range of clothing, wherever possible, in the UK. Their ethos is to create sustainable style from ethical fabrics. To that end, their tweed caps and waistcoats are woven from British wool and put together by British craftspeople. When they have to source from off our shores, they use hemp, bamboo and organic cotton from ethical sources in India and China. The look is classically English with a twist: pops of colour and interesting patterns.
I mentioned Senhoa in my post earlier this week. Creators of beautiful, Asian-inspired accessories, they work exclusively with victims of human trafficking or women vulnerable to exploitation in Cambodia, teaching them new skills and enabling them with a trade and an independent income.
The sale of their socially-conscious jewel ensembles provides income-generating opportunities, and aids the rescue, rehabilitation, and education of young women in South East Asia.
Sticking with accessories, I was struck by the hefty, edgy designs coming out of Australian house The Sway. Crafted from up-cycled leather and linings, the range is heavy on biker chic. Their clutches and bags are studded and buckled, and bulging with hard-rock attitude. They even do a couple of leather jackets. Proudly worn by trend-setters like Amber Valletta and Santigold, The Sway's gear will help you to toughen up your image in moments.
After seven years as the co-founder of women's wear brand HandYMade, Marion "May" Perret decided to start her own eco-luxe lingerie label. Launched in early 2013, Marion May pieces are one of a kind, created from surplus fabric she gleans from her fashion house contacts. Mixing jersey, silk and cotton, and with a mix of retro and contemporary styling, Marion May is creating lingerie with a more than a hint of luxury, that's backed up with a rigorous focus on sustainability.
Finally, my pick for the Source Design Leader, recognising a brand creating outstanding design to change lives, change perceptions, and raise awareness around sustainability in the fashion industry. It's a tough call; all four nominees are seriously pushing the boundaries.
I'm plumping for Quazi Designs. This Swaziland-based company create their jewellery from waste magazine paper stock, in some cases weaving it to create the impression of wood, closing the circle between source and finished product. Working exclusively with female artisans who are encouraged to be a part of the design process, Quazi are really showing what a fashion house based on the twin foundations of sustainability and good ethical practice should be about.
So, those are my picks. We'll find out if I'm on the money or talking through my hat in a few weeks. Who would you pick?