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By Katy Caric
Stella McCartney, EDUN, Maiyet and Mara Hoffman are all huge names in sustainable fashion – and they have huge financial backers to help them maintain their market share. But what of the smaller sustainable luxury brands?
It’s not easy being an independent fashion label, but when you’re collections are big on style and small on environmental impact, you’re bound to attract a following for yourself.
Here, I’ve found 10 small sustainable luxury brands that I think will grow to Stella-like proportions over the next few years.
1. By Walid
British-Iraqi designer Walid Damirji creates artisan-made, bohemian clothing from luxurious vintage textiles and antique fabrics he sources from around the world. For example, this collection below is comprised of beautiful vintage linen from the 1920’s, 19th-century Chinese silks, and repurposed Chinoiserie Spanish shawls.
2. Fool Dost
Organic cotton, banana based viscose, and nutra-seed cotton are just a few of the natural fibres used by this elegant and sustainable label. Fool Dost offers a luxurious yet minimalist take on Indian dressing, from the naturally breathable fibres to the endlessly wearable silhouettes. To combat the typical exploitation of Indian textile workers, Fool Dost has partnered with MasterG India, and organisation that helps promote an eco-friendly and ethical system of garment manufacturing.
Born in post-socialist Hungary, designer Dori Tomcsanyi is influenced by two seemingly contradictory themes: life in the former Soviet Union, and modern, cutting-edge design. Sustainability and CSR are at the core of this playful brand – everything is produced fairly in Budapest using sustainable materials sourced from small Italian manufacturers.
4. Made By Voz
The mission of Voz is to protect the rural indigenous women in South America, and the label empowers the artisans who make their garments with economic growth and education. Voz runs its main rural artisan education centre in Temuco, Chile, and also provides design, and leadership training for indigenous women in their own communities. We love their loose and easy styles, their natural dyes, and noble fibres, like alpaca.
A brand for someone who loves to travel? Sign me up! Kilometre Paris was specifically created for women with wanderlust – their artisanal embroidery allows you to get a wee taste of exotic destinations, and each piece is made from rare, vintage linen.
6. St. Roche
After leaving Alexander McQueen, designer Sue Stemp set out to create consciously designed clothing for every day wear. The result is St. Roche, an endlessly stylish brand with great ethics. They partner with manufacturers in India and Peru that are known for their fair and ethical practices and wherever possible, the fabrics are GOTS-certified, organically grown, and locally woven cotton, biodegradable, and sustainable. And did I mention that their delicately feminine, beautifully draped styles are to die for?
Slightly mysterious, dark and a bit exotic, Australia label KitX merges modern, edgy design with seductive style. The brand is committed to being an example of sustainable design, so every textile used has a traceable production history, and comes from a supplier who makes certified organic, recycled or natural materials through fair labour practices.
8. Uzma Bozai
Growing up in New York, designer Uzma Bozai spent her childhood summers in the Indian subcontinent, and was inspired by the indigenous artisan culture of creating garments with hand embroidery and embellishments. After moving to London, she decided to support artisan communities by combining her love of London’s quirky fashion scene and the artisanal crafts she’d grown to love, and her eponymous brand was born. Today, each limited edition style she comes up with is hand embellished by fairly paid craftsmen and women. We love the new Frida Collection, a tribute to the designer’s favourite artist.
Whether it’s rain-fed cotton bought at a fair price from local farmers, or upcycling post-production manufacturing waste, Lilabare always considers the socio-economic and environmental impact of all the casual, chic and sexy garments they create. In addition, Lilabare creates crystal jewellery from ethically sourced stones (from local Kenyan mines). Independent artisans hand-hammer pendants, buttons and details using solid brass from old machinery.
In Peruvian prisons, bored female inmates (who are usually imprisoned for non-violent crimes) often sit around knitting. Aware of this, Danish brand Carcel decided it would be a good idea for these women to be fairly paid for their handicrafts, and Carcel was born. Creating classic items like track pants, pullovers and tees from ethically sourced baby alpaca wool, these women can support themselves, send their children to school, save up for a crime-free future, ultimately, breaking the cycle of poverty.