Here’s a taster of the best talent showing this season at Brighton Fashion Week. Highly original, varied and engaged, this line-up promises the most exciting showcase of sustainable fashion we’ve seen in a very long time.
If it doesn’t have meaning, there really is no point. Fashion has to mean something, it has to make a difference. Tracey Dockree felt challenged to create beauty from the unwanted and discarded, to demonstrate that even those who have been written off, or who have written themselves off, have value. Discarded and broken clothing, even old socks, are taken apart and intuitively pieced with other old garments to create new fabrics and exciting fashion. Every outfit tells its own story: the homeless teenager; the woman trapped in sex trafficking; the garment worker who barely earns enough to eat; the widow, one of millions, forced to beg or sell herself after her husband dies. If a catwalk model can feel excited about wearing nothing but old socks, then surely we can get excited about helping the abused and marginalized feel valuable again.
As a recent graduate from the University of Brighton Textile Design, Milkweed creates knitwear that demonstrates how materials can act as part of a cyclical process; both biodegradable and sustainable. Creating a collection that positions craft and its practice in a contemporary wearable form, yet maintaining a childlike playfulness within the overall aesthetic and styling. The ‘Outsiders’ collection is part of a series of projects produced under the name Milkweed exploring the possibilities within sustainably produced knitted textiles. Through considered work with British lamb’s wool, Shetland grey fleece and manipulation of felting techniques the unisex and trans-seasonal collection explores the role of natural fibres in a contemporary way. Milkweed is about creating fair products both for the customer and the people involved in every stage of production. The collection explores an alternative to aggressive chemical dye processes, through collaboration with designer and natural dyer Rebecca Haughton @woadyblue, creating a range of dyed garments with locally grown and foraged natural dyes. Milkweed believes we have to learn to think more long-term about the consequences of what we are doing, while we are doing it. Clothing and textiles have long been connected to pollution in the environment but through sustainable fashion we can focus more on the culture, innate sense of place and individualism of a garment.
Brighton-based designer Louise O’Mahony, of L•O•M uses her traveling experiences to draw inspiration – collecting ideas from around the globe, she interprets traditional costume and folklore into avant garde party wear for the bold and colour loving woman. Her collections consist of patterns designed by Louise that have been printed onto luxury lycra, used for catsuits, tasseled tops, and fitted dresses, embellished with pom poms, fringes and trims. Mixed with elegant capes and kimonos and embroidered dresses made with vintage fabrics from the hill tribes of South East Asia. Louise’s designs are loved by festival and party goers, who want to stand out from the crowds in her eye catching prints and bright colours.
Kitty Ferreira’s inspiration comes in many forms, including nature, environmental issues and someone closer to her heart: her late grandmother (whom the label is named after) and her natural lifestyle in the Caribbean. Kitty practiced upcycling long before it became fashionable and uses nature to feed and heal herself, creating juxtaposition against living in a cosmopolitan city. Ferreira approaches ethical fashion from a historic, political and economic perspective. She incorporates upcycled fabrics, echo dyed with pomegranate and onion skins, as well as organic peace silks printed with azo-free dyes. Through her work, Ferreira aims to create a paradigm shift that is needed from the root to change the attitude of people towards the planet.
Taking inspiration from naturalist illustrators and forward thinking icons of times gone by, Kelly Dawn Riots brand embodies a unique aesthetic that invokes a sense of the ephemeral and wonder through hand-crafted illustrations and paintings. The printed textiles are inspired by traditional naturalist illustrators and, in keeping with that tradition, Kelly sat in galleries and museums drawing and sketching before painting the images through traditional watercolour techniques. The aim is to create pieces of wearable art that will continue to inspire: crawling with details and minutiae that will never cease to amaze. Pieces are made using remnants from local Scottish mills or natural fabrics such as cottons and linens, making them strong and durable, while the eco-friendly printing techniques and the attention to detail ensure that each piece is a treasure: inspired by nature, designed for life.
Gabriella Sardeña is a young, energetic designer. She recently graduated with a Fashion degree at Manchester School of Art. Her collection is inspired by the innocence of femininity in contrast to the psychotic compulsive obsession with everything sickly sweet. She took inspiration from the artist James Ostrer’s exhibition ‘Wotsit all About’, where images were exhibited of human subjects, and even him-self covered in sickly sugary treats, and mass-produced foods, to show the disgust of idolized sugar. Based around a narrative, Gabriella developed this concept through unique surfaces and textiles such as puff paint and embroidery, along with trapping and bonding fabrics together to produce three dimensional textures and shapes. Gabriella describes her work as playful, eccentric, youthful yet sophisticated. She explains: ‘Fashion design is a subject I am passionate about: being able to create art in the form of clothing is remarkable. Allowing myself to express my experiences inspirations into concepts and narratives, gives me the ability to create new, innovative and expressive pieces of clothing.’
Elisabet Carlota and Elisenda Oms
CARLOTAOMS is the result of a merger between designers Elisabet Carlota and Elisenda Oms, both of a marked entrepreneurial spirit and characterised by a need to find answers to their creative curiosity. The proposal of the collection focuses on artistic unity of two creative minds. This conceptual story is evident in the straight lines which cross over one another in the patterns, the inclusion of the luminosity of yellow and the threads that playfully crisscross in the embroidery work. The choice of colors: black and white and the pure lines of the cuts make up part of the brand identity. CARLOTAOMS garments dress clients for their everyday, complimenting their personalities and helping them to create or foster their identity. The brand offers attire in which pure lines and urban style interact with the person wearing it.
A London-based footwear brand for men and women. BoBo represents classic and sustainable style with a contemporary edge. For AW15, Bourgeois Boheme is marking its first move towards a refined aesthetic in a quest to challenge the perception of leather-free footwear. Blurring the boundaries between masculine and feminine, the Transcending collection comprises of contemporary styles that are ethically produced and free from the use of animal derived materials. It is artisan-made, leather-free footwear made to last for men and women. For women, the collection covers key styles for the season including luxury trainers, an updated take on the classic Chelsea boot and neat derby brogues in a dark colour palette. For men, a sartorial oxford brogue jogger, monk shoes, and an updated derby lace are introduced to complement the season’s dressed-up direction. BB’s shoes are exclusively vegan and ethically produced in Portugal using the finest faux leather and natural materials. A quintessentially British perspective is at the heart of our truly original, unmistakably BB designs.
Isaac reveals that, as a designer, he focuses on the silhouette, structure and the empowerment of the wearer. His garments continually take on a strong silhouette from the shoulders to the hips creating innovative shaping. Structure a massive part of the pieces Isaac designs due to the regal way it makes a person feel whilst wearing a strong silhouette. It is this silhouette and structure that Isaac feels really oozes strength and empowerment from the person wearing the garment. This is focused upon in Isaac’s newest collection ‘The Revolution of Bravery’ where empowerment, individualism, freedom and acceptance is explored through the use of different materials.
Graduating from the London College of Fashion over 15 years ago, Helen Woollam, founder of Hellavagirl continues to create with a unique and innovative style. Helen has no rules in her creative process. More often than not she cuts straight into cloth and shapes and creations are born and developed organically, developed backwards from garment to pattern and back to create the final masterpiece. Hellavagirl’s recent collection ‘a diary of a lost soul’ evokes the pangs of innocence versus the fierceness of first lust, love, loss, anger and relentless exhaustion. The garments themselves hold a narrative. The silhouettes are inspired and developed through creatively playing with proportions, which is always an underling handwriting in the way her collections develop.
GWEN&SYD’s designer Eve Tokens has always worked in a way to minimise waste and extend the longevity of each piece – she has never designed with the short-term in mind. She is heavily inspired by her experiments with textile design through the manipulation of fabrics, she has used designer surplus or end of roll fabrics in her collections. Now that more organic fabrics are being incorporated into the collections, careful planning and costing of each piece ensures GWEN&SYD only orders as much fabric as is needed. Finally, Eve is careful to use the waste that is produced in other ways. As an example, the Ikat remnants from the SS16 collection are used as a form of embellishment on the simpler organic cotton garments: very little ends up in the bin! The challenge for her is to unify these aspects within her design practice so that the collections are fun and inspired while also being ethical and sustainable. Eve feels it is important to be sustainable because, as people, we have slowly evolved to being obsessed with ourselves and objects; what we feel we are entitled to. This means that the planet has been left to suffer. It has been plundered tirelessly to fulfill our demands and it can only hold out for so long. If every person were to think more about the impact of their 'wants' - on the planet, the environment, the people - we could make a real difference.