by Fiona McGarvey
We all know fast fashion is a major contributor to the climate crisis: huge carbon footprint, zillions of micro-plastic particles machine-washed into the environment, swathes of non-biodegradable items going to landfill every day. But you might think, as you come out of the tube into the bright lights of Oxford Circus, where can I buy ethical clothes from? Well nestled into Great Portland Street, the Lone Design Club is currently running one of their concept stores in partnership with Frieze Art Fair. LDC, founded by Rebecca Porter, aims to connect its customers with ethical, independent brands and empower them to make ‘off-the-high-street’ purchases via its online store and international pop-ups.
Ladies-who-Launch was lucky enough to be invited to check out the brands LDC is showcasing this month, so I went along and was introduced to their resident, eco-friendly designers: a group of female entrepreneurs with innovative and unique designs.
First, I met Olga, the founder of I’mdividual, a London-based womenswear brand with the mantra: ‘style with integrity’. Olga’s pieces are wardrobe staples in bright and neutral block colours and everything, from the buttons to the packaging, is made from a sustainable material: organic cotton, corozo, natural rubber, and recyclable, biodegradable paper. Olga has even crafted ingenious designs in her trousers and skirts to avoid the need for plastic zips. There is not a bit of plastic in sight, I looked.
The SENS jewellery collection by WISP, a tech company rooted in female empowerment, is a result of their ‘Sensual Tech’ research. Each piece of jewellery is centred around a small spherical ball of perfume, which serves the triple purpose of looking pretty, massaging pressure points of the body in times of stress or anxiety and releasing delicious scents into the space around you. Basically – unique jewellery that keeps you calm and connected to yourself.
Ganor Dominic’s footwear by two sisters, Kate and Anna, who create ‘shoes as a form of art’, are entirely handmade in Italy. The designs are very bold, bold-enough – apparently – for Lady Gaga, and often incorporate digitally printed fabrics. They were next to Susana Madrid’s shoes, another transparent brand, with an ethos which prioritises the environment, local craftsmanship and female empowerment. Who knew you could get so much in a (very beautiful) shoe?
Then I spoke to Victoria, who is the founder of Neon Hope, a sunglasses brand that wants to keep your accessories stylish and safe and look after your mental health. Inspired by the sunrise, it’s colours and promise of opportunity, Victoria has designed seriously beautiful bumbags (which sounds paradoxical but, I promise you, they are) which include an attachable pouch for your sunglasses and a chain which can be repurposed into a necklace. Nothing is surplus, everything is gorgeous. And to top it off, Victoria wants to use her brand-new company to help raise awareness for mental health and reduce stigma.
Next I met knitter-extraordinaire, Valentina Karellas, who creates bespoke woollen items by hand (only her hands in fact) out of the unused wool from factories whose only fate is landfill hell. Her process creates absolutely no waste. She even bundles up the tiny ends of threads and uses them to decorate woollen tote bags or cover up stains on old jumpers. Her enthusiasm was infectious – she is 100% committed to creating beautiful knitwear, preventing waste and not generating any more.
Indoi, founded by Mallika, is a collection of stunning pieces handcrafted by local tailors in her aunt’s workshop in Karachi. The clothes are inspired by her own Iranian Bangladeshi heritage and are incredibly versatile and wearable, intended to be worn all year round. They are made from natural fabrics – any coloured materials have been digitally printed rather than dyed – and hand-embroidered using ancient techniques from the Indus Valley. Like the other designers in LDC’s shop, Mallika is obviously passionate about her work and she has designed her clothes with women’s bodies in mind, particularly in terms of how they change. I wanted to buy every dress just to absorb some of her spirit.
Then I picked my favourite pieces – I’mdividual’s white wrap around shirt, Indoi’s Bibi Kimono Dress and dark blue Halima Slip, a frayed pink denim jacket from Blonde Gone Rogue (another super trendy, super sustainable brand) and a khaki army jacket. You can see ‘my rack’ (lol) below. I’m no fashionista but I think they look pretty good together and I wish I could be dressed like that every day.
Unfortunately, I can’t change my wardrobe overnight but my conversation with Nikki, LDC’s Marketing and Social Media Manager, and Mallika (of previous Indoi adoration) did inspire me to make some changes for the better. Taking care to buy fewer items of clothing so that each purchase can be more expensive and therefore better-quality, ethically-made, environmentally-friendly and probably more stylish. Which means planning ahead and not panic-buying in Zara or Topshop before every wedding or weekend away, adding yet another ill-fitting dress made from a polyester-mix to my already over-flowing wardrobe of ethically-dubious clothes. I don’t think it will be easy but I’m going to try – maybe you will too...
LDC x Frieze London
DATES: 2 - 15 October
HOURS: 10 AM - 7 PM Mon-Sat, 12-7 PM Sun
ADDRESS: 65 Great Portland St, Fitzrovia, London, W1W 7LW
If you have an event or initiative you think we should feature on the blog then please get in touch. Our resident columnist Fiona McGarvey will be shining a spotlight on things happening across London over the next few months.