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!