United we stand. That’s the current mantra of all future-gazing brands. We can all individually create and question the norm, but when we share our innovative concepts and collaborate, we can learn from one another and build on our strengths. As consumers, we can learn to fight our fast fashion cravings and purchase with consideration, favouring quality and longevity over quantity. With this fresh perspective, we can afford to support smaller, sustainable and trailblazing brands. The ethical fashion movement is thriving, with spending up 2460% since 2000!
Welcome to the new economy. Whether it is bark cloth, fishy fabric, using end of roll fabrics or traditional style wisdom, Sublime is proud to introduce seven brands with a real – and chic – difference.
Designer Paola Masperi has the unique ability to stitch together the wisdom of old whilst building a sustainable community with her vibrant brand, Mayamiko. With a zero waste policy, local textiles that focus on African heritage and a spotlight on upcycling Italian wools and cottons, Masperi has managed to create a transparent supply chain for her collection. Mayamiko started as a charitable women’s education, tailoring and training project on the outskirts of Malwai’s capital, Lilongwe. Yet the artisanal techniques that quickly emerged have led to today’s high designs, breathing new life into fading African craft.
The brand bravely resists the the traditional fashion calendar, as Masperi, explains. ‘We tend to bring out one main collection a year with some strong trend-led pieces, and a good core of more timeless pieces. We repeat the most loved styles across any of our collections. Finding your own personal style is a more valuable journey. It also allows us to carry on working with locally available textiles, without having to buy large quantities that could potentially go unused or produce unnecessary surplus.’
Mayamiko is now working on a collection that will bring upcycled pure silk from a mill on Lake Como. ‘People want to buy wonderful pieces that they will look and feel great wearing. For me, the story of the product is one of its attributes.’
The inspiration for BENT&BREE was down to its family-focused founders who were considering what they would be leaving the next generation. After the birth of their second child, they sought out distinctive, conscious products and decided to create their own sustainable yet luxurious bags and accessories.
Cork was the material of choice, given that it is renewable, lightweight, durable, allergy-friendly, water repellent and fire retardant. Extracted from the bark of the cork oak, it is the only tree whose bark regenerates itself after each harvest every nine years. Cork requires very little processing and the harvesting of it is an ancient process, without the need for harsh dyes or chemicals, focusing only on the sun, hot water and manual, experienced labour. Cork is also versatile, vegan and recyclable.
As Founder, Helena Silva, highlights, ‘The brand is inspired by LOVE, nature, imagination and a desire to provide unique and stylish planet-friendly products that reassures you that you are doing your best. We design and create pieces that reveal comfort, function and style. All our products portray an enduring sense of style that are timeless, modern, seasonless and will outlive trends.’
BENT&BREE sources its cork from the Montado Forests of Portugal, where over 50% of the world’s cork is produced, and which is carefully safeguarded and maintained by ecologically considerate Portuguese laws. The brand has created its unique collection of marvellous conversation pieces through laser cutting techniques. The Blossom Handbag is a best seller, with its 3D flowers that each have been individually placed by hand. ‘Cork simply is nature’s most futuristic achievement.’
Budding brand Leif Erikkson is just one year into business, yet already creating waves for sustainable menswear. Utilising end of roll fabrics to create coats and jackets and branching out into upcycling existing clothing, this homemade brand is taking risks with innovative designs and finding its own honest voice.
For designer and founder, Catherine Hudson, it’s about stopping to pause and work with what is already there rather than abandoning fabric in favour of the brand new. ‘In sourcing alternative materials I don’t feel forced to conform to trends. This allows more freedom in my work. I have always been very textile based, from sourcing materials to developing and weaving for my own materials.’
It also pushes the boundaries of design – fusing denim with organic blends such as linen and gabardine – and ‘being intentionally off-beat and witty. We live in society where disposal of items is easier than ever before. We are surrounded by so much choice of products, we spend very little time considering the consequence of what is thrown away.’
‘Hand crafted and artisan products are important because it shows the importance of carefully developing and crafting something that will stand the test of time. Knowing that something has been made by hand brings a different attitude in how the customer preserves their processions and the value it holds.’
As lead designer Christina states, ‘We spent time visiting the Mongolian landscape and were very inspired by both the wild and free, autonomous way of living of the nomads.’ Impressed by how the nomads produced cashmere from the ultra soft undercoat hair of their goat herds, Christina and her partners Luca Moretti and Mario Andrea Cozzi decided to support the community who made their living selling this natural yet luxury material.
More luxurious than Merino and sheep’s wool, the cashmere comes in an array of natural colours, including black, ochre, grey, white, cream and brown. This brings with it a pure and calming element to the brand’s core design style, whilst exuding sophistication. ‘Through our brand’s concept of modern nomadism, we connect the future way of working and living.
‘Multinational connections based on independent and flexible working and living conditions where we connect the world with all parts of life. There is no secret. Sustainability has existed since the beginning in nature. We have to reconnect again.’
Dwimmer was dreamed up by Founder Laurel Tincher, as a way for men to communicate their social and environmental values and invigorate this formal accessory. ‘Neckties intrigue me for a number of reasons. They are such a commonly worn item and yet have not changed in a century, which is highly unusual for clothing styles. Within the realm of classic menswear, there aren’t a lot of areas where men can choose to wear bright colors and bold patterns. Neckties are like a blank canvas.’
The collection is locally produced in Silicon Valley, and whilst the designer agrees that technology is incredible, Tincher states that her favourite days, ‘... are the ones when I get to create with my hands, whether in the garden, at the piano or on a sewing machine.’
Dwimmer works with pure wool, as it is biodegradable and looks and feels luxurious. Tincher is currently developing original and unusual sustainable textiles with artists in Europe – from recycled cassette tapes to fair trade salmon leather.
Dwimmer is soon to expand the collection into women’s ties, due to the demand for gender-neutral apparel. ‘When you purchase something you know has a story and is of high quality, you are far more likely to take care of it and treasure it for a long time.’
After extensive research into the lifecycle of a garment, designer José Hendo launched her own name label with a focus on sustainable by design. This is the heart of the brand. Using a variety of textiles from organic cotton, hemp, silk, bark cloth, to recycled and end of line rejects, José produces timeless garments that are made with zero waste, creating unexpected and natural design elements.
‘I have a natural affinity to create inspired by the shapes, forms and textures in nature, as well as the manmade structures of architecture and sculpture.’
One of the most exciting elements of this avant garde collection is its use of biodegradable barkcloth, an ancient fabric that also supports livelihoods in emerging nations. This heritage fibre provides a rustic earthy cloth and can be harvested year after year from the regenerating Mutuba tree.
Watch this space for the José Hendo new ‘Moto Silhouette’ collections SS and AW 'zero waste' applied in every possible way. ‘In my battle for sustainable fashion I am innovating and trying to perfect old way and create new ways in a quest for zero waste.’
Looking straight into the eyes of fast fashion, Une Écharpe – Une Vie, or One Scarf – One Life, asks the world to slow down with its collection of timeless pieces. Crafted with care using luxurious soft cotton and silk on a handloom, each one can take several weeks to make and is produced with years of expertise.
Founders of the brand, Tiff and Raj (Christine Tiffany Cool and Rajni Singh Carney), call the scarves tribalux, or luxury scarves with a tribal origin, and consider their business a ‘cause integration company’. ‘We found that the people who were often the victims of emergencies were often not formally educated but had some sort of a trade.’
The scarves are produced in collaboration with fair trade partners in Laos and the Philippines. There is no one designer as every weaver uses their lives as inspiration, creating wearable works of art. ‘It was important for us to find something that kept the spirit of centuries-old handcrafted fashion alive that served to provide a living wage to the women who expertly handloom weave our scarves. Quality and craftsmanship matter.’
The brand will further establish its network of weaving communities across Cambodia, Indonesia and Mongolia to ensure further design diversity. ‘Why would ANYONE want to be the same when they can CHOOSE to be unique?’