London Fashion Week A/W 2011

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, in which case I commend you for your eco friendly living arrangements, then you will be aware of one of the largest fashion events that hits London twice yearly – London Fashion Week.

esthetica[1]London Fashion Week is the international showcase for one of the UK’s most important creative industries, and this year it has returned to the beautiful Somerset House, in the heart of London, where over 170 designers are showcasing their Autumn/Winter 2011 collections.   Never failing to impress, London Fashion Week presents an innovative and diverse schedule to an expected audience of over 5,000 buyers, T.V. and radio crews, fashion editors and writers, with emerging talent showing side by side with iconic British designers and brands.

As I teeter my way around the exhibition in my newly acquired sky scraper heels, sipping my complimentary glass of champagne, I am blown away by the sheer size, but also the uniqueness of each of the designers’ displays.  Feeling rather like a kid in a sweet store (or, in these shoes, a bull in a china shop) I am fascinated with the realms of luxurious and breathtaking jewellery, footwear accessories, and ready to wear garments.

Keeping with the ethical ethos of Hello Eco Living, I honed my attention on the twenty two ethical fashion designers whose brands were on display in the Esthetica part of the exhibition.  For those of you who aren’t au fait with what Esthetica is, here is the low down:

The British Fashion Council founded Estethica, sponsored by Monsoon, five years ago to showcase the growing movement of cutting edge designers committed to working sustainably.  All Estethica designers adhere to at least one of the three Estethica principles of fair-trade/ethical practices and organic and recycled materials, and are selected for both their ethical credentials and design excellence.  The success of this initiative, the internationally strongest of its kind, is evident in its rapid growth from its first season of 13 designers to over 20 for AW11’s Esthetica Collective.

For the tenth season Estethica is forming a significant part of the exhibition at London Fashion Week at Somerset House, and the BFC is delighted that designers showcased in Estethica are now seen alongside mainstream collections in leading retailers worldwide.  Caroline Rush, CEO of the BFC commented, “The Estethica initiative goes from strength to strength reflecting the fashion industry’s appetite for sustainable product and collections. The variety of collections – encompassing ready to wear, jewellery, millinery and other accessories – and the diversity of the designers’ methods of production and use of materials is truly inspiring. Estethica continues to lead the way in showcasing ethical sustainable fashion.”

Now if the thought of sustainable fashion and recycled materials conjures up images of bin bag bandeau dresses and shawls made of sweet wrappers, get that picture out of your head now, because I can assure you that the collections in the Esthetica exhibition in no way compromise on style or quality.  Plus, in an age where it is more crucial than ever to live sustainability, raising consciousness of sustainability in fashion, one of the main areas of consumerism, is vital.

Anna Orsini, one of the exhibition’s curators commented, “Everyone involved in fashion, whether high end designer or high street, needs to address the issues of ethical trade asking searching questions as to the provenance and the lifecycle content of the clothes produced and sold in the UK and globally.”

Along with Anna, the other curators of the Esthetica exhibition, Filippo Ricci and Orsola de Castro, all continue to drive Esthetica forward by bringing in new designers and supporters, ensuring eco fashion is recognised on an international scale.
Over the course of the next few days, I will be catching up with some ethical fashion designers to ask them a few questions on their products and on ethical fashion.

The Estethica exhibition is taking place in The Embankment Galleries, Level 1, at Somerset House, Strand London WC2 from Friday 18th February to Tuesday 22nd February 2011, 10.00am – 7.00pm.

Alexander McQueen – Future Vintage

Alexander McQueen has been described as a designer capable of bringing;

‘ the raw and symbolic beauty of the natural

world sharply into play with

a regal, noble, architectural force’

With this in mind I couldn’t believe my luck at finding this stunning piece during a visit to a Designer sale in London, just days before his tragic death.

alexander mcqueen

For me, a fashion item that generates such a strong emotional reaction will be deserving of the timeless tag and is already on the road to becoming labeled as ‘Vintage’.

The benefits of clothes that ‘speak to you’ will become self evident, when in years to come they still hold their appeal, to you or their new owner.

Wearing Vintage doesn’t just express who you are now, but echoes what has shaped and inspired you from your past.  The wearing of a vintage item evokes a whole range of thoughts regarding its history, previous owners and experiences.

It’s a great feeling to know that you are giving an item of clothing a new lease of life and for the individualists amongst you it is a great way of expressing your personality.

The message is therefore to ‘dust off’ that timeless piece from your wardrobe and even if your classic item fails to ‘speak to you’ in quite the same way as it used to, odds are it will have plenty to say to the next person on its journey!

If you want to find out more about swapping Vintage log on to

Fairwear fashion show 2010

Fairwear 2010 was the largest Fairtrade fashion show the UK has ever seen. Taking place in the stunning surroundings of Bristol Cathedral, ethical designers showcased their latest ranges. Lorna Tweed and Ellen Dowell took to the front row to report for hello eco living.


The highlight of the show was a collection by Leafric Designs, founded by sisters Sashana and Melissa Miller. The bold and striking designs were presented by models strutting down the runway in a bizarre ostrich style walk (which made us chuckle). This edgy fairtrade couture stood out from the rest of the Fairwear show where the majority of the collections did little to break down the ethical clothing stereotypes of dowdy cotton garments.

Cotton Candy brought some fun to the night with their bright and breezy range. They used head turning coloured tights to set off the old faithful little black dress and bows and beads to sweeten up basic t’s and shirts.

People Tree showed off their new pieces created with the help of Emma Watson. The best word to describe this range is prepy, the Jack Will’s of the Fair Trade fashion world.

Fairtrade fashion is definitely going places and with the face of Burberry turning green, who knows who we’ll welcome to the fair-trade fashion arena next year?

Estethica: the future of fashion

The organic food industry has never been as rapidly growing as today. There has never been as many eco friendly cars on the planet and there has never been this much talk about going green ever in history, and for good reasons. It is not only ethical to be good to mother earth; it is trendy. In fact it is fashion; green fashion.

From Flock to Frock
From Flock to Frock

Three years ago The British Fashion Council founded “Estethica” to showcase the growing movement in London of cutting edge designers devoted to working in an eco sustainable way. Now in its seventh season, it has evolved to become the epicentre for London’s ethical fashion industry, and I can see why.

It was more than a refreshing experience to walk into a room with so many talented and energetic designers clearly genuinely passionate about using environmental sustainable materials.  One of the people I met in this room was brand and business developer Beate Kubitz at “Makepiece”. She tells me how she 5 years ago was working in a city corporation living an unsustainable lifestyle and just feeling tired all the time. She needed to do something meaningful and exiting and so she quit her job, moved back to Yorkshire where she grew up and started to spin sheep wool for fun. She then met young designer Nicola Sherlock who shared the same thoughts as herself to an extent it was almost scary.  A year later they started to work together and put up a small firm.

“All our clothes are made from British farmed wool, alpaca and mohair, and are manufactured – from flock to frock – in the UK. We even keep our own sheep”

Kubitz reveals as she laughs. Additionally she explains that to her sustainable lifestyle and being eco friendly is to buy less and value what you have.

After walking around in this very boutiquey showroom at the Mayfair hotel wanting everything that was being displayed it was finally time for the announcement of the designers selected to receive support from industry mentors. Six lucky designers were picked out, and Ashley Ashby at “The North circular” was one of them.

“It feels absolutely amazing to be one of the six to have been selected by the industry’s professional”, Ashby says with sparkling eyes.

Ashby graduated last year from Central St. Martins and together with her model friends Lily Cole and Katherine Poulton they joined forces with Isobel Davis (founder of Izzy Lane sheep sanctuary) to produce a range of 16 knitted pieces.

“The garments are made using ethical wool from rescued Wensleydale sheep, housed at the sanctuary in North Yorkshire. We use hand-knitting-experts in the age 21-91 and if you like you can create your own piece in choice of five naturally dyed colours. This season we have created a ski-wear-collection where we have also used ethical jewellers”, Ashby says exited.

Even though green is the future “Esthetica” mentor Baroness Lola Young says that it will take time to fully change people’s way of consuming.

“It’s all about strategy approach and changing how people think, so it is not a short-time strategy but the medium and long term-strategies”, Young says.

Simon Ward Joint CEO at BFC says that although there are many more obstacles for an ethical designer and even if it will take some time to change people’s way of consuming, ethical fashion will be the normality and not the difference in the future.