Saturday, 20 July 2019

Interview With Designer Jogaile Zairyte About Her Award-winning Sustainable Collection, 'Makoto'

I came across Jogaile's collection 'Makoto' on Instagram, where it popped up in a photoshoot for Fashion Graduate Week's 'Talent of Tomorrow' campaign. 
Jogaile created these uniquely coloured fabrics for her collection with natural dyes, such as avocado stones and indigo. She used an efficient, zero-waste pattern cutting technique, which comprises of rectangular, square and triangle patterns, inspired by traditional Japanese kimonos and samurai armours. The collection is beautifully finished off with intricate Sashiko stitching, but also has a fun and playful side, with padded sections and plenty of embroidered texture. 

I love the positivity emitted from this collection, as well as the intricate hand processes which Jogaile has used to create the clothes, celebrating hand-crafted processes and slow fashion and thereby contrasting with the frenetic speed of fast fashion.

In April, Jogaile's collection won the Batsford Prize for Fashion 2019.

1. What is the creative process and inspiration behind your latest collection?

My collection, “Makoto”, was inspired by the Japanese samurai and their beliefs, and how they cherished nature and natural organic materials by utilising different handicraft techniques and natural hand-dyeing processes.

2. What is your favourite part of producing a collection?

Creating for me equates to happiness. I enjoy every part of making a collection, from the initial research to the final stitch. It is amazing how much you learn during each design process, and I love seeing how every collection ends up being so different from the one before. It really is an invaluable experience.

3. How and when did you become aware of the impacts of fast fashion on the planet?

Ever since I was a teenager, I have sought to combat the environmental problems that are plaguing the world. However, at that time, I didn’t know that the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world, although I have always preferred shopping in second hand shops or vintage shops because the clothes there are more unique and interesting. I found out the hard truth about the fashion industry during my first year at the University of Portsmouth when I was volunteering for a “Fashion Revolution” campaign. After watching the documentary 'The True Cost', my mind and approach to fashion drastically changed, and since then I have never looked back, I just keep on moving forward on the sustainable path, striving to make a difference in the industry and for our world.

4. Has your knowledge of how the fashion industry works changed the way you shop for clothes personally?

Yes, yes, yes!!! I don’t buy clothes from fast fashion companies anymore, I always look for small businesses that make sustainable clothing, or just make the clothes myself!! I also go to events such as clothes swaps, where I take my unwanted clothes and swap them for something new! Very exciting! Of course, I love mending my clothes or reconstructing them if I have a spare minute. Loving your clothes is important and we need to stop buying clothes that will be thrown away after one use, instead, we need to invest in quality and sustainable clothing which will last!

5. What do you aspire to do in the future?

I want to work in the sustainable fashion industry and to share all my knowledge with the people around me and inspire to do better, as every little step counts!

6. How have you designed your collection to be sustainable?

To make my collection, I used all natural and organic materials, I hand-dyed all of them using natural dyes such as avocado stones, turmeric, etc. I also incorporated a zero waste technique into my designs.  

7. How would you describe your collection in three words?

Colourful, unique, fun!

Thank you Jogaile!

You can keep up with Jogaile's projects and beautiful designs on her instagram @joza_eco

             Beccy x


Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Why Sustainable Fashion Needn't Be Exclusive

Recently I have been thinking about how sustainability can sometimes appear to be something which is only accessible to a small number of people, and in some ways, many beautiful sustainable brands are out of reach to many of us.  Nevertheless,  I don't see sustainability as something which is exclusive.  In 2019, it is possible to list an increasing number of sustainable brands which are affordable, although perhaps not appealing to everyone's taste just yet.  So can we consider sustainable fashion accessible to everyone?

I originally came up with a list of the options I believe would result in our wardrobes having the lowest environmental impact:

1. wearing what you already own;
2. borrowing/swapping clothes;
3. buying second hand;
4. buying from brands which create their clothes sustainably.

However, I started to reconsider this list when I took into consideration the meaning of 'Sustainability'. Sustainability is about ensuring we don't use up resources. It's about consuming less and making things last so that they can be reused and not thrown away in the future.  Therefore, I would say that buying things which are quality, you actually love and you know you will continue to wear for a long time, should be on that list too.

Having a sustainable wardrobe isn’t just about where we shop, but how we consume and care for our clothes. On the whole, high street clothes are cheaper to make, cheaper to buy and don't last as long. But I can think of quite a few people who have bought something - jeans from Topshop for example - and they wear them all the time. Some people re-dye their clothes when they become faded and mend them when they tear to avoid them being thrown out.

A huge percentage of the environmental impact of our clothing actually comes from how we care for our clothes. The average household uses 9,100 litres of water per year to wash clothing. This is the equivalent to the recommended daily water intake for more than 4,500 people! There is also energy consumption in caring for our clothes, not to mention micro-plastic pollution. Imagine how much water could be saved if we wore something twice, or more, if it doesn't actually need a wash. 
These is definitely a sustainability issue that can be tackled by everyone.

Someone was telling me the other day about some clothes they where really excited to have bought. They told me where the clothes were from and instantly felt guilty. They said that they were sorry it wasn't an ethical brand. 
What I should have said is that, as much as it really does make a difference what brands you support, (and without using this as a reason to justify consumerism) it's about mindset and how you approach buying things that counts. It's also about buying things intending to make them last for a long time instead of knowing we will only wear it a few times and then abandon it. 

We need to know that we really love what we buy, enough to care about making it last.

Beccy x

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Interview with Nan, Co-founder of ethical brand Seeker x Retreiver

Seeker x Retriever is a beautiful protest against the exploitive and consumerist attitude of fast fashion, ethically making their clothes to last and be loved. All of their seasonless clothing is hand-crafted in Thailand, where all of the production processes are overseen by their artisans, starting with the hand-weaving and natural dyeing of their cloth. They use only natural dyes from seasonal plants that are native to the area. Their grey colour comes from the leaves of the local Takian tree while their mango colour comes from actual mango leaves!
I also love how their artisans are free to determine the price of their own creations.  

1. What inspired you to start Seeker x Retriever and what lead you to become so passionate about sustainable/ethical fashion?

Fashion has always been a personal passion of mine, even when I was working in media. We originally launched Seeker x Retriever as a vintage clothing store, but then I got the idea to create our own line using handwoven cotton when I travelled to the North of Thailand, where my mother is from. Around the same time I was getting frustrated about how fast trends are changing and wondered why it was so difficult to find classic pieces made ethically. So Seeker x Retriever as a brand was born.

2. What inspired your latest collection, Kakadu? 

The other half of Seeker x Retriever is from Australia and I've always been inspired by the colours of nature and outdoor living, so Kakadu National Park inspired the story behind this collection. We wanted to bring a sense of natural wonder and a care-free feel to the narrative of this collection.

                                         3. Who are the makers behind Seeker x Retriever? 

All of our products are collaborative efforts between us and local artisans. We aim to make Seeker x Retriever a love-story where handmade products are the main characters. Currently we're working with artisan groups in the North and North Eastern regions of Thailand. We only work with home tailors, based in Bangkok, who set their own working times and their own prices. We never do bulk-discounted products, which is what's popular here in South East Asia where brands order large quantities to make production cheaper.

Aunty Nid, who is 58, never thought that making clothes was for her until she was taught how to sew by a local tailor around where she lives in Bangkok.
She saw having her own business as a way to live a more balanced life by getting to work on her own schedule. She loves coconut ice-cream and when she’s not working, she enjoys watching her favourite shows on TV with her husband.
We work with Aunty Nid on a commission basis, where she gets to name her own price and time to make each item. There is never a “bulk production discount” when it comes to her wage. Thank you again Aunty Nid for sharing your skills and growing with us.

4. You describe your clothes as ‘seasonless’ and ‘classic’. How can fashion adapt to become an industry which places value on versatility and longevity instead of trends?

Having previously working in fashion media, I think the industry should take greater responsibility to promote sustainability because these publications are often the starting point when people want to buy something. We need more honest media who promote smaller brands instead of just taking money from the big guns. Instead of writing about "what's new to buy," they should focus more on the stories of the makers.

      5. How have the clothes at Seeker x Retriever been designed and produced in a sustainable way? 

Our pieces are only made with handwoven cotton by artisans. We produce items in small quantities (30 meters = around 8 pieces) to guarantee that there will be no waste. We also use a lot of seasonal dye materials so certain colours are not available at a certain time of the year. 
This year, we will be introducing our recycling initiative where if a customer has worn a certain piece of ours for a certain period of time, they can return it in exchange for discounts on other products. We will then recycle their pre-loved items into one-of-a-kind pieces, whether fashion or homeware.

You can learn more about our process here:

6. Why is it important to know who the people who make our clothes are?

Every product carries a story of its makers. It's important to have this mindset and people need to practise consuming consciously because clothing isn't supposed to be this cheap. It's hard to look past the flashy and beautiful clothes in store and imagine that the person who made this has earned less than 5% of what it's sold for. 

                               7. How would you describe Seeker x Retriever in three words? 

                                                                   Honest, conscious and creative.

Thank you Nan! I love that you emphasise the importance of having an understanding of who makes our clothes and what goes in to making one garment. I definitely feel like this makes me more aware of the value of my clothes, and the lives of the people who make them.

  Beccy x

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