By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Fact: no one creates something ‘just because’. There’s always a reason, always a story. And sometimes that story is just as interesting – or even more so – than the creative product itself!
This is definitely true for ethical fashion. What sparks a person to produce something from natural materials, even though these are more expensive? Why would someone choose to work with artisans instead of machines that can do the work so much more cheaply? And what’s the inspiration behind unique designs? These are the questions I asked three ethical fashion labels, and the stories each one told me were quite unique.
Brooke Da Cruz’s personal beliefs sparked her to create an ethical fashion label influenced by the mysticism of India. It is on that sub-continent where the designer sources her eco-friendly fabrics and provides work to small-studio artisans from a variety of races and religions.
In fact, India plays a key role not only in Da Cruz’s label, but in her life. She takes great inspiration in her work from Osho, leader of the Rajneesh movement, which is rooted in the affirmation of joy and love. To illustrate the impact on her work, ‘The Untouched One’ pays homage to Eastern philosophies and their yogic traits of harmony and bright optimism, with fluctuating designs that have an impeccable fit and are aesthetically alluring.
Her second collection, ‘Kindred 2’ stems from Brooke’s analysis of convergence; the likeness between all things. Her call to unity is reflected in a conscious choice of materials that include organic cotton, hemp, peace silk and Tencel.
Unconventionally, Osho advocated freer sexuality, and this is reflected in Da Cruz’s designs, too. Blouses are sensually draped over bare shoulders; the smooth lines of the back are exposed, and a hint of midriff is revealed through her cleverly cut clothes. It all adds up to a bold statement of self-confidence, and when combined with all natural materials, it speaks of a respect for our planet and our connection to it.
Osho’s words: “You should not leave the earth until you have made it a little more beautiful, a little lovelier, a little more loving,” have clearly resounded with Brooke, who is aiming to do just that.
2. Keeping It in the Family: HAN Studios
Some say that you should never work with family, but luxury womenswear brand HAN shows that sometimes keeping it in the family is the key to success.
Father-daughter team JiaYing Han and YiYi Han are highly aware of the perils facing our planet; this is a story of a father who has seen the Earth changing, and a daughter trying to preserve the planet for future generations. And speaking of which, HAN’s story is also one that merges the different outlooks of the two generations: one is steeped in traditional Chinese ideology and natural materials like silk, indebted to the past; and the other is more influenced by Western ideas and higher-tech eco fabrics like Tencel.
HAN’s style marries Chinese prints with minimalist, asymmetric cuts to achieve unique and flattering pieces. The label’s distinctive clothing collection features intricate drapes and architectural folds that aim to flatter the female figure, whist remaining sophisticated and perfectly balanced. Their continual emphasis on simple, tasteful style is applied to all elements of their brand identity, from their fabrics to their neutral colour schemes.
Originating mostly from Italy, their 100% natural materials include linen, cotton, silk and cashmere whilst mother of pearl and corozo buttons add decorative touches.
One material. One kind of fashion item. Two shades. Livotte’s approach to fashion couldn’t be simpler. When you think about it, from a purely practical standpoint – which item do you buy most? I’m betting it’s tops – and so is ethical fashion label Livotte London.
Live In It, Love In It, Lunch In It is the message from this new brand. The concept is that we all have a few staple bottoms, like our favourite jeans, trousers and skirt, which serve us throughout the working week and beyond. We could (and often do!) wear the same pair of jeans for days on end. But what do we change the most? You guessed it – our tops!
Based on the philosophy of ‘keeping things simple’, Livotte set out to create a few of the most comfortable and practical tops around, all created from one yarn – organic cotton, sourced from a mill in the British Midlands.
With thirteen classic designs to choose from and with each available in highly functional black and white, Livotte’s pieces have been specifically created to pair effortlessly with your favourite leggings, blue jeans or pencil skirt.
One material. One kind of fashion item. Two shades. Livotte’s approach to fashion couldn’t be simpler.