By Coral Brown
Confession: I’ve always been in quiet awe of the timeless cool of fashion minimalism, for a feast of reasons.
First off, minimalist designs tend to err towards the androgynous. On the catwalks, many designers toyed with gender constructions in their Autumn Winter 2016 collections, with pieces constructed of sliced up military uniforms and 1950s A-line skirts. But minimalism takes gender equality literally, often shunning anything recognisably masculine or feminine. That’s a whole new dimension of equality.
What’s more, minimalism goes hand in hand with body positivity (the idea that all bodies are good bodies). Whatever shape, size or age you are, minimalist fashion is ready waiting with open arms to envelop you in clean-cut chambray. The simplicity of minimalist design scores maximum points for being so gosh-darn inclusive.
Plus, it’s not hard to see how minimalism lends itself to sustainability. Buying pieces for their versatility is a key part of the slow fashion movement, and you don’t get more versatile than an unadorned grey marl shift dress. Emerging sustainable fashion brands reiterate the motto of minimalism “less is more” in endless swirly handwritten memes all over my Instagram feed on a daily basis. The rule of only buying a piece if you will wear at least 30 times is advice from ethical fashion campaigner Livia Firth and minimalists alike.
Feminist, body positive and sustainable: this is the kind of fashion movement you wouldn’t mind bringing home to meet your parents. Without further ado, here’s our top eco fashion edit of our top picks for sustainable, minimalist fashion brands.
Parthenis is the ultimate wearable minimalist brand. Their latest collection is a blend of khaki, blue or wine red hues, alongside delicately stitched monochromatic geometric patterns. This brand favours natural fibres, using jersey cotton, modal, hemp and linen, making them a sustainable fashionista heartthrob. Wear their short-sleeved flowing jacquard dress with burgundy brogues and a pair of drop earrings and you’ve got yourself the three Cs: comfortable, casual and cool. Plus, all of their garments are made in Athens employing Greek ateliers, supporting not only the local community, but the battered Greek economy, so the production, the materials and the aesthetics are all looking mighty ethical to me.
These human, animal and eco friendly bags and wallets by Ono Creations are meticulously sustainable, with every little detail carefully considered for its social and environmental impact. The key material is cork combined with Tencel®, joining together to create an epic new sustainable supermaterial. Cork is well known for being a sensationally renewable material that can be extracted without killing the tree. Each bag is lined with bamboo, and the threads used are certified organic naturally dyed cotton. Even the buttons are reclaimed teak, sourced from waste materials from furniture manufacturing. What’s more, the modern and eye-catching designs are simple enough to complement any outfit, but different enough to make a statement. Bravo, Ono!
Holi tailored collarless coats are made to last, designed with a double layered water repellent cotton to keep those brisk spring chills at bay. The minimalist details like the invisible zip, subtly curved pockets and square neck give these coats a sleek edge, smartening up even a casual jeans and tee combo. Holi Studios in Siem Reap, Cambodia, was founded by Leah Rodrigues in 2014, and is the first non-sweatshop facility in the area. After working as a volunteer in Cambodia, Leah noticed that many people who had trained in garment sewing didn’t have a secure or local job to use those skills, and so they often returned to working in the rice fields. And so Holi was born, providing an opportunity for those workers not only to use their skills, but to perfect them to create luxury coats whilst earning a fair living wage.
Kowtow Clothing is the real deal. The name of the brand is a Chinese word representing the custom of showing deep respect by kneeling and bowing so low that your forehead touches the ground; the same kind of respect this brand shows to their workers and the planet alike. All their garments are made with Fair Trade certified organic cotton, and among the many benefits of working for Kowtow, their employees’ children all receive free schooling. Their latest collection uses magnified navy and white check, olive green and dove grey fabric, easily mixed and matched for some bright and breezy spring outfit combinations. The loose fit is complemented by the clean tailoring, creating powerful and unique silhouettes.
Jan ’n June
Produced in Wroclaw, Poland, Jan ’n June use certified organic cotton, recycled polyester, and Micro Modal®, a carbon neutral fabric made from wood pulp from sustainable forests. Their clean minimalist pieces often have an extreme split-hem, a turtleneck collar or an open back. Jan ’n June’s latest collection features vanilla yellow and ocean blue as accent colours to the customary black, white and grey of minimalism. I was particularly fond of their white A-line shirt dress, not only for its suave tailoring, but also because it is purposefully designed not to be see-through, as many white shirts often are. It’s nice to know that in a black bra/white shirt situation, they’ve got my back.
This brand spanking new Kickstarter Vetta Capsule deserves a hearty round of applause for its innovative sustainable business model, offering ethical fashionistas a complete capsule wardrobe. You buy five pieces, specifically designed to go together to make 30 different outfits. Most of the pieces are made using Tencel®, another sustainable fashion pin-up. This award-winning fabric is made from eucalyptus wood pulp, and doesn’t require pesticides to grow. Plus, almost 100% of the chemicals used to create this fabric are recovered and recycled, making production remarkably eco friendly. And Vetta has faultless minimalist designs to match its ethics. My favourites are the chic culottes with suspenders, the tuxedo-style vest dress, and the split-hem tunic. Fingers crossed this brand gets all the funds it needs to make this sustainable fashion dream a reality!