Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Merging old fishing nets with new technology, Spanish brand Ecoalf has developed a brand that recycles what would be landfill and turns it into refined modern day products. Founder Javier Goyeneche tells us how important it is to be persistent while branching out from the norm.

What inspired you to start ECOALF?
I believe that natural resources are not endless and that recycling can be a very good option. Why not try to create recycled products with the aspect and technical properties of the best non-recycled products?

New technology has been your key to creating a sustainable product, how did you come up with the idea of using fishing nets?
We discovered that in many ports there was a lot of discarded nylon fishing nets. Where people find waste, ECOALF finds raw materials!

Has it been difficult starting a company with a strong emphasis on recycling?
It hasn´t been easy as we have had to invest a lot in R&D. The beginning has been slower than we expected. We have had to convince many manufacturers to develop new recycled products with us like laces, linings, labels etc while maintaining the same quality as the non-recycled ones.

How do you develop new products?
We spend a lot of time and resources developing new recycled fabrics, the final look of the end product, the tactile aspect, the technical aspects, and finally, it becomes part of our new collection.

When designing one of your bags, what do you have in mind? How do you start the creative process?
We believe that in order to develop a sustainable product it all starts with the design. Once we have a clear idea of the fabrics and materials that we can use we start designing under the ECOALF life style concept.
We try to design urban, functional, timeless products with the best quality.
Our aim is to prove that a recycled product can be as cool, good looking and technical as a non-recycled.

Can you explain a bit more about what Authenticity means to you?
Authenticity for us is important, our goal is to have 100% recycled products but for the moment that is not possible. We work hard making joint ventures with lots of suppliers to develop all the different components for recycling. ECOALF is not green washing, we believe in what we do and we work hard to make those values be real and authentic.

Where are you based? Does your location effect you/inspire you?
We are based in Madrid, Spain, but we are always ready to travel anywhere in the world to find new materials that we could recycle and turn into one of our products!

What do you hope for the future of fashion?
We have to realize that our natural resources are in great danger; our company thrives to investigate the use of recycling to create fashionable, commercial and successful products that are at the same level as non-recycled products.

You can find out more about Ecoalf here where you can watch how they actually recycle nets and bottles.

Monday, November 28, 2011

We are ULTRA

We are ULTRA is a sustainable collective for the future. Founded by Tengku Jamidah and Anita Hawkins, two women with an eccentric mix of experiences in design, art and politics. The pair have recently won an Innovation award through the EFF for Ultra 10. A collection designed to be the only items you need for a whole year, it challenges the over flowing wardrobes of most of us! Anita tells us how the concept began.

How did Ultra start?
In 2009 my partner Jamidah and I had come to turning points in our lives. Jamidah had just become a mother and was starting to think about how to make products and a lifestyle that was beneficial for a child; and I had just finished working with UNHCR and had started to think about how I could use my experiences to benefit something larger than myself. Since then we have created artwork, installations, skincare and more, with a future-minded perspective.

Can you expand on the concept behind your 10 piece wardrobe?
It's about addressing the need for conscientious consumption. Thinking about what one really needs and how much use you can get out of well-designed basics and multifunctional clothing. It's compiled of ten pieces designed for a woman to wear for a year, made up of innovative pieces such as a 4-in-1 coat/dress/jacket/skirt. When it launched, Amena from The Wellness Works committed to wearing only the ULTRA 10 and a few basics, donating the rest of her wardrobe to prove the point of conscientious consumerism and simplifying one's life.

Call you tell us a bit more about your yearly exchange and up-cycling service?
We aim to create a refreshed set of ULTRA 10 once a year, which builds on the idea and gives extended options. We offer the owners of the previous ULTRA 10 the option to return their pieces in exchange for a large discount on the newest version. It's an effort to reduce the waste often associated with fashion, we will recycle, upcycle or donate the returned pieces as responsibly as we can.

Where are you based and how does this inform your work?
I am based in Shanghai which as a massive city in a heightened state of flux is highly influential on my own pace of innovation. It helps inform the pace of my work as well as confronts me with the huge state of consumer culture and ensuing environmental effects on a daily basis. It keeps me in check and striving for forward momentum.

What's next for We are Ultra fashion?
We are developing new ways to distribute our clothes and ethos through means that are not so taxing on the world. Downloadable design being one of them. We will also seek to keep refining ideas such as the ULTRA 10 so we can really make an impact on how people view the way that they are consuming fashion.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lu Flux

I'm not sure about the rest of you but I am a wee bit jealous of Lu Flux...Past assistant of the incredible Bernhard Wilhelm, with a bunch of awards and enviable mentorships under her belt, she has also presented her collections in London, Paris, Tokyo and Amsterdam! All of this has been achieved on her own terms with no compromise to her design dignity or ethics. Each collection is refreshingly original with complete disregard to trends or any other nonsense.

Her current collection "A Lu Ha" features a soft palette of textured details and a few highlights of brights. Tiki motifs and tropical vibes are mixed with a collage of english floral,it's a perfect example of Lu Flux style. With her Autumn/Winter collection due out in the coming months, we can expect to be wowed again very soon..

How do you start the creative process for each collection?
We start with experimenting with techniques and manipulations to see what works and then with the selected techniques, we develop them further and then place and build them into garments.

Can you tell your favourite part about working for Berhnard Wilhelm?Any valuable wisdom learnt?
Well having lunch with Bjork was fun! Working with Berhnard Wilhelm reaffirmed to me that it is possible to have a successful fashion label without a focal point of glamour and sex.

The fashion industry tends to take itself quite seriously, how do you keep a balance of fun and excitement whilst maintaining a viable business?
My business is my absolute passion and I think that because I am so passionate about what I do, it keeps the mood upbeat while maintaining a high level of productivity. I work extremely hard and try not to pay attention to trends

How do you source your fabric?
I have always appreciated and supported British manufactures and the use of local produce so I am always researching to discover more. My collections revolve around the vintage and salvaged materials that I find by working with recycling companies. It is satisfying and fulfilling to address the disposable side of the fashion industry by making something new out of something old.

What was it like growing up in the Isle of Wight?
When I was growing up I found the Isle of Wight boring and couldn’t wait until I could leave but now when I think about it, I really had a blissful childhood. It continues to be a wonderful escape from the intense city environment.

What led you to London?
It did take me a while to come round to the idea but I moved to London for the reasons a lot of people move to London, for the opportunities and the advantages of being in one of the fashion hubs. Unfortunately I don't think I will be able to live in a countryside haven for a few years yet.

What's next?
It is top secret but we are currently building ideas and experimenting garment shapes and techniques for our Autumn Winter 2012 collection. Soon to be revealed!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Karishma Shahani-The new collection

Karishma Shahani has been busy since graduating from LCF. Living in India, she recently worked with an NGO focusing on empowering village women through skill development. Once completing this project she created her current collection.

The range entitled " Kranti" or "Revolution" is inspired by heroism during revolt and warriors of the past. The range stays true to Shahani's signature style of layering and colour, reflecting the native nomadic costumes of India. With a focus on hand dying and intricate surface techniques, each piece is beautifully rich with detail. Made with devotion and care,the love is passed on from maker to wearer. A talented designer, Karishma blends traditional and contemporary culture without the usual cliches, continuing to pursue a unique aesthetic.

You can read an interview with Karishma in a previous post here.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Suzanne Lee: Grow your own clothes | Video on TED.com

Lee has created clothing using bacteria. Check out this interesting TED talk about the process.I have seen some of Lees end results and they are quite beautiful!


Sunday, October 2, 2011


On a recent trip to London I was lucky enough to chat with Nin Castle and Clare Farrell about their label Goodone. During a typical grey mid morning we explored the trials, tribulations and revelations of producing a successful independent label out of reclaimed materials. Tents, Tesco’s and Textile waste have all played part in the evolution of this label, proving that unlikely combinations can bring about the best creative work.

Can you start by explaining the concept behind Goodone?
We’re a sustainable fashion label, but our aim is to not look like one or act like one, apart from how we produce our clothes obviously! Our specialisation is up-cycling, so we mix reclaimed fabrics with end of roll industrial waste as well as using new British fabrics and sustainable fabrics. We try to be really design led, it’s important to us that we’re being progressive with our designs as well as with our ethos. The reason for starting Goodone was to try and instigate some positive change, some positive impact on the industry and that’s really what motivates us, however we also want to be seen as designers in our own right rather than just another ‘eco brand’.

You use a unique combination of materials, how do approach the sourcing for each collection?
Well we design in two ways, A- From what we want to make and B- From what we have and what we can get a hold of. There are always things we know we can get, for example we know we can always get jumpers. We handpick these from textile recycling centres, but we don’t pick the acrylic or polyester ones, we pick the fine merinos and cashmeres to make sure we get really good quality fibres that are really soft. We work with the mills in Scotland where we get offcuts of cashmere and we also work with mills to get end of rolls and waste from the knitting machines, which we mix with new fabrics.

Sometimes we get people approaching us saying ‘I’ve got all this stuff, can you use it for something?!” So we design with that in mind. We once did a collection with tents. One person approached us and said that they clear up festivals and end up with loads of tents. We told them to give us all the darker coloured tents and we would try and re-use them.

Do you find having a specific product to re-use is limiting? Does this make you think more creatively?
Yes exactly, it limits you but it also pushes you, it’s actually really nice way of working. I very much see design as a series of problem solving exercises. Clare and I design together and we often talk about how being a designer is not like being an artist, (as a designer) your doing something functional and your creating something for a use. And for us good design, or intelligent design, whatever you want to call it, is actually thinking about the effect that each garment has, the effect on the environment, the social effects and that for us is just as important.

It is obviously challenging to run things with sustainability in mind, why do you do this?
It can be a nightmare! The reason we do up-cycling is because there is just so much waste, we all consume so much. We go to recycling factories and it is just immense the amount of textile waste. And for us the most sustainable fibre you can use is one that already exists. If a garment has already been worn, it has already had life and if it is still in really good condition then it should definitely be used and re-worn.

What are some of the problems you face?
Its really difficult, for example for a time I felt really strongly about making everything in the UK, the studio had to be here and the manufacturing out of London. But we got to the point when we were like you know what? Everybody still wants buy from us if we are made abroad and we would actually have a more affordable product and more people buy it. So we could either continue as we are and dye in a years time or make the change. Now we make things in Bulgaria, we have a girl called Lena that works with us, she is from Bulgaria and overseeing it. We sometimes have to make changes to what we want to do.

For us the standardizing is the really difficult part, because we have so much variability coming through. We need to make clothes that are not identical but need to sit as close as possible. Our ability to do that has allowed us to survive a lot longer than a lot of other up-cycled labels. People start doing it and they don’t quite manage the standardising, but for us it is very much about mixing the new and the old together and I would actually rather sell double the amount of clothing made from 50% new and 50% up-cycled than selling nothing that is 100% up-cycled, using a lot more fabrics allows a lot more scope for the design. You can make a higher quality product, so its really about having a bigger picture and not restricting yourself too much, but knowing your aim is to always make the most sustainable garment items we can and also most well designed as we can.

Our new fabrics are all produced in the UK. This is mainly because we know how it has been dyed because dying regulations in the UK are really strict. We know the conditions people are making it in and there is not much transporting involved. The UK textile industry is dyeing, its actually having a little bit of a resurgence at the moment which is brilliant, but it’s such a small industry so I feel really strongly about supporting the industry even though we don’t still produce here in the UK.

So it’s about being realistic?
Its about picking what you think is most important and what works.

Are you both from London?
No my dad is a pig farmer! I’m a country girl at heart. Clare comes from up north and so not London based at all. We had no fashion contacts or anything like that.

Why London?
I started the business in Brighton but Brighton is so small, it’s a lovely little place but the move to London was one of the best things I have ever done. I lived in New York for 6 months and did an internship with Marc Jacobs and that was great but being British the one place you go to is London, I just love it and I think as long as you have a bike and don’t have to catch public transport that much then its great.

What’s next for Goodone?
Well at the moment we are creating a small capsule collection for Spring/Summer in silks and jerseys which we are actually really pleased about, it’s looking good. At the moment we feel like we are getting better and better but we do so much as a small company; we do a basics range, we do our main collection, we do dresses, tops, jackets, and we have got a point now after doing this for fives years that we need to focus in on what we do, I really like the saying that it is better to do one thing really well than a lot of things badly, I don’t think we do anything badly at the moment but if we focused on one thing we could do something that is even better. So that’s where we are at the moment. We are wanting to do more project work and have different ideas about that too, quite a few possibilities for the future, there are so many different ways you can work things out!

At the moment we’ve got quite a good reputation and quite a good aesthetic and people know about us, so we need to look at that and go how can we make the most of this now? I suppose we have a bit of a renaissance happening, figuring out who we are.

All photographs by the lovely and very talented Stephanie Sian Smith


ALAS online store

Just thought I would mention some exciting news...My label ALAS, is about to be available online next week from here...