The Future of Fashion

Here's a little insight into what we created at Sketch, opening London Fashion Week 2018 with a serious message about social and environmental responsibility.
In association with Label Press at St Andrews University, I curated and exhibited in a sustainable fashion and fine art installation.
Guests enjoyed a immersive experience, from a holographic installation 'Women Empowered' by Diane Harris at the entrance, to fine art illustrations by Holly Jade O'Leary, plant based gastronomy, and opera and ballet featuring performance from The Jewelled Moon Theatre Company wearing couture created using reclaimed materials, accessorised by Ethical Jewellers of the Year 2018 Cred Jewellery, before the sustainable fashion show and expert panel discussion with guests Baroness Lola Young OBE, Ulla Vitting-Richards, Tamsin Lejeune. Set in the Glade, decorated by Caroline Quartermaine in trompe l'oiel decoupage, the event celebrated the beauty of nature and encouraged a revitalised paradigm shift into how we can incorporate conservation into our day to day lives, and participate in the circular economy
The story behind the fashion collection was simple, as a stylist and creative director with 10 years of experience in the fashion and entertainment industry I struggled to find anything to wear which was ethically sourced, and would suit me. I wanted smart, stylish clothes that weren't too formal but would carry me from work to evening meetings and occasions. I wanted to know that when I bought clothes workers had been paid a living wage, and that the fabrics used in construction wouldn't eventually end up disintegrating into the stomach of fish. That when I spoke about human rights and transparency within the jewellery industry and a plant based diet that I wasn't being hypocritical through my choice of outfit.
There just didn't seem to be anything else out there. When Label Press at St Andrews University approached me in 2017 to create a fashion collection for their annual show I deliberated, then said yes. The event at Sketch, co hosted with Jo Boon was our second show together.

2 star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire provided a plant based gastronomic menu The Fairy Emporium especially for the event, with dishes including plant based based gastronomic menu featuring Vegetable Chef’s Forest (mushrooms and baby vegetables) with Zezette Bouillon (green sauce with a Paris mushroom base) , and Sketch Sweet Wood (mushroom-shaped meringue, seasonal fruit, pistachio sponge cake) accompanied by fine art illustrations by Holly Jade O’Leary.
The simple, minimal S/S2019 collection created was inspired by nature, with bold colours such as Poppy red, and Mother of Pearl Rose in GOTS certified organic Pima cotton sateen, Buttercup gold, forget-me-not blue and translucent white.
It showcased graceful, fluid contemporary lines in evening wear easy to style up or down. Our models including Kasey Wynter (Love Island) and Arianne Unity-Hargrave showcased a healthy femininity and vitality.
Baroness Lola Young, accompanied by her assistant Alice Pease spoke about legislation, and her passion for social and environmental justice, appointed to the House of Lords in 2004 as a cross bench peer from a background in Arts and Culture. It was brought to her attention in 2009 that modern forms of slavery still existed. She worked with key figures in the fashion industry such as Fashion Revolution and the Green Carpet Challenge, changing the level of awareness introducing the Modern Slavery Act 2015, section 54, in parliament.
This requires businesses which earn £36 m+ a year has to report that they do not support slavery within their supply chain, and asking the question how can we ask manufacturers to improve their labour standards? One of the results of the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act, which perhaps doesn't yet do enough to protect the rights of workers, is to raise awareness to direct business to have a perspective which values a responsible supply chain.
In the textile construction industry most developing nations' minimum wage is far from the living wage recommended by the International Labour Organisation to support a dignified life, education and social development.
" Modern trafficking exists, with young workers still even being smuggled into Europe, told that they will be trained in the premier football league and siphoned off into factories in the fashion and beauty industry, with workers being paid €1 an hour to finishes dresses for luxury brands which retail at £5, 000 - £10, 000."
Her assistant Alice Pease also mentioned how they had been staging a series of events titled the Fashion Round Table, which consider what section 54 is and why is it important for businesses to incorporate it with the next event in November 2018 looking at how the brands can improve and ways that it will benefit them.
In an industry which sells glamour and beauty steps must be taken to ensure social justice. Our second speaker Ulla Vitting-Richards founder of sustainable label Vildnis asked the question - how many people in the audience would like to wear sustainable fashion? How many people are wearing wearing fashion right now?
The show of hands, which had been high for the first question, dropped. Ulla discussed the future of fashion being in customisation and innovation in use of materials such as recycled plastic bottles, and seaweed.
She moved the audience as she described visiting a factory in China, where the workers, mostly young women were provided with a bowl of rice for lunch each day. On Monday the factory manager was surprised to witness the girls fainting, due to having to choose between whether to eat, or whether to spend their money on having their nails manicured at the weekends. Their choice was the beauty treatment, and surely when we factor a triple bottom line into making purchases we should appreciate paying an extra cost for quality and parity of living standards.
Tamsin Lejeune, founder of Common Objective and the Ethical Fashion Forum provides a vital platform for sustainable businesses to share resources and trade. Her vision is to work with businesses that are not on the journey yet. Over the 12 years she has worked she is witnessing more companies committed to sustainable change with even Buckingham Palace opening its doors to an event on sustainable fashion. In 2016, Tamsin Lejeune raised funds from companies including Vivienne Westwood to invest in Common Objective which enables business to create a profile to match their business needs. The more sustainable your business, the higher your Common Objective ranking. They also provide businesses with information, such as how to go about sourcing in Turkey.
"The elephant in the room is the quality of materials, whether organic fabric has been used, the processes used in dying and amount of water. The challenge of the industry now is to look at ways to implement an environmental tax amongst other ways to encourage at ways to encourage sustainable development."
Tamsin has been a strong force to cement change in the fashion industry, providing a vital platform and shared resources. Common Objective are launching the sustainable business awards, recognising the impact that individuals can have, even if they are in quite junior roles in supporting sustainability in the industry.
Alan Frampton director of Cred Jewellery who catalysed the ethical jewellery industry by commissioning an independent report from Greenwich University in 2003, and works closely with Fairtrade mines in Peru, Kenya and Uganda to secure a traceable and transparent supply chain which reinvests back into communities, kindly provided a beautiful collection from Cred for the show.
This included the Macdesa Collection of diamond rings in 18ct Fairtrade yellow gold sourced from the Macdesa mine and lab-grown diamonds, each named in honour of the women who work in the Sotrami Fairtrade mines in Peru - Aurora, Otila and Nieves, the mesmerising Clara Halo Solitaire diamond set, Our Love will Bloom stylish designs by Oak and a botanical collection made for Cred by Liz Earle.
I also worked as a stylist and creative director for new brand Aweless, who manufacture sustainably. Other accessories were by ethical fine jeweller Lily Flo Jewellery who crafts dainty, minimal, modern designs in London, and vegan Italian luxury footwear designer NAK Fashion.
We hope to continue with a series of informative style events showcasing exciting sustainable designers, artists and inspirational speakers which look at ways we can make a proactive choice to encourage responsibility in the fashion industry.


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