Admission: This post is very late.
I went to check out Ethical Fashion Forum’s Brand Preview a couple of months back. I was excited to meet people who are interested in changing the way the fashion industry works. People who want to do things differently and better. I was excited to see the future. I was generally excited. When I got there however, there were less brands showcasing than expected, especially in terms of design-led womenswear. So I had a quick shimmy round, and left. Not quite the revolutionary experience I was expecting then…
But perhaps revolution can come in small waves. While I might have been disappointed by critical mass, there were some really good brands with amazing potential just doing their thing, and that is no bad thing. Raven & Lily in particular caught my eye with their simple geometric patterns and ethnic-feel jewellery and accessories. Their mission statement states that they work with marginalised women to “empower them through design”, using environmentally conscious materials. They kind of have a luxe-hippy, slouch, LA vibe, but it works.
image via Raven & Lily website
Bamboo eyewear brand Colin Leslie also caught my attention. Colin’s glasses are striking and design led, which is key to building a successful ethical brand. Even Tinchy Stryder is a fan!
Images via Colin Leslie website
I also met the very charming and enthusiastic Brothers We Stand. Their approach to fashion retailing is innovative and simple. All the garments on their site have a footprint rating. something between an energy efficiency rating and a traditional materials tag, so you can see the environmental and ethical impact each garment has caused. This approach is genius in its simplicity, it brings the information to the customer. they also have a strong edit, so that design is the primary focus of the offering.
While most of what I saw was nice, I got the impression that some brands had a stronger focus on ethical pedigree than on innovative or delightful design. Soft organic cotton can be luxe, certainly, but it is hardly inspirational. It is not good enough to like upcycyling, or simply to use ethical fabric, the outcome is what matters. A dress is not a crusade, it is a dress. The more sublime the better. Once we accept this, we can create real change, by using environmental and socially responsible practices instead of damaging ones. Yea. Vive la revolution.