Amelia’s Magazine | Fashion Brut – An Interview


Putting the words Sustainable Fashion together can appear to produce an oxymoron, malady doctor how can an industry synonymous with the fast free consumerism mimicked in high fashion magazines pages that helped herald the economic crash become sustainable? Its very structure relies on the twin polluters of shipping and flying to deliver clothes across the world. Furthermore, tadalafil how can fashion be sustainable considering the volume of water and cotton required to make a single t-shirt, buy information pills a subject Amelia’s Magazine broached when reporting on the London School of Fashion Centre for Sustainability competition. Whilst the majority of the fashion industry has a long way to go with regards to production being ethically and sustainable, the recent collaboration between Fashion-Conscious and TRAIDremade is one example of the possibilities open to commerce. Continuing along the vein of Junky Styling TRAIDremade produces new clothes out of the old with beautiful results, proving it is more than possible to create fashionable items with your own hands. Amelia’s Magazine spoke to the director of Fashion Conscious.


What do you think are the most important concerns for the fashion world at the moment?

For me, sustainability is key. The Fairtrade message seems to be getting through to a lot of people already but the vast amount of waste we produce which is being dumped into landfill is frightening. The rise of fast-fashion culture has increased the rate and amount of discarded clothes in landfill too. I think sustainability needs to be pushed to the forefront of eco-fashion now and I am hoping some projects we have coming up in the near future will do just that. The idea of being able to utilise what most would consider rubbish, literally turn waste in something new, fun and most of all fashionable is so exciting. Fashion recycles styles and trends so why shouldn’t the actual act of producing those clothes reflect that? It’s the future of fashion.
Vegan fashion is also a hot topic at the moment and controversy surrounding the use of leather from the Amazon has appeared in the press recently. We have an incredibly stylish collection of shoes by Olsenhaus on the site at the moment. Finding the most ethical materials and production processes is their paramount philosophy.


What’s in store for Fashion Conscience in the future?

So much! We are currently preparing to launch TRAIDremade Boutique, a project we are incredibly excited about. Fashion-conscience has collaborated with the charity TRAID to come up with a new concept for sustainable fast and affordable fashion. The mini-collections will be much more trend focused than TRAID’s typical pieces and be made up of just a few of each design. New lines will be added every few weeks and as creative director, I’ll be keeping a close eye on the catwalk trends to really keep in touch with high-end fashion. The collection will be available exclusively for fashion-conscience customers. We are also launching an exclusive line of printed tees in the near future- they’re being designed and produced as we speak!


How successful has the store been so far? Were you surprised by its success?

Surprised? Yes and no! I’m ambitious and I always hoped the site would be successful so in a way I wasn’t surprised that the site has seen a success. We started trading as the recession began so keeping in mind the tough trading conditions we’ve seen in the last year we’re growing rapidly. But where we’ve made real impact is within the industry itself. In terms of the fact that most people in ethical fashion industry see us as the number one site for style and new talent. We’ve showcased some fantastic new labels on fashion-conscience and I am always on the look out for more. We have attracted good press, and more than larger companies in the same arena as us. Good exposure is essential and we will always attract attention if we continue pushing boundaries.?


Who are your favourite designers on the site? Which would you particularly like recommend?

Camilla Norrbeck sells her beautiful and timeless pieces exclusively on fashion-conscience. She’s a Swedish designer and uses almost entirely ecological or environmentally certified, natural fabrics

We will soon be stocking a little label called Betty Bridge. Born in Paris then studied in London, the designer sources vintage fabric to transform into gorgeous modern pieces. She brings practical, wearable and femininity to her clothes, mixing French chic with London flair.

Fin is a Norwegian label. Its very elegant, luxurios and sophisticated. I’m looking forward to receiving the AW collection. They use organic and environmentally friendly fabrics.

And vegan label Olsenhaus.


Are there any other sites or shops like yours that you would recommend or that have inspired you?

For pure professionalism and selling good fashion, net-a-porter is great. They’ve managed to expand the designer market and made it more accessible to the general public. Eco blog ‘style will save us‘ has won design awards and simply picks the best of eco, we’re often featured on there too which is obviously always good! BeingContent is an excellent eco beauty and wellbeing site. They have everything from skincare to haircare and men’s beauty too

The possibilities are endless.

See Fashion-Conscious for links to other ethical design initiatives including the designer Rani Jones whose collection is made entirely in London and Fin, a Norwegian company who describe themselves as 100% carbon neutral.


Only on their second single, pharm London-based indie fourtet, Your Twenties have been described as ‘possibly the best group ever formed by a member of another act who wasn’t the frontman.’ The ‘other act’ is Metronomy and ‘the member who wasn’t the frontman’ is Gabriel Stebbing. The delightful fellow chats to Amelia’s Magazine in Brick Lane about what it means to be in Your Twenties.

AM: So your new single, ‘Billionaires,’ I take it you don’t want to be a billionaire….

GS: It was one of the first songs I wrote for Your Twenties ages ago. When I was still in Metronomy. I guess it was me at my dreamiest and most ideological. I basically write music that makes you feel a particular way because of the sound. But with Billionaires, it’s not some big anti-corruption message, but in the music industry you can always see when people are motivated by money or where there is too much money thrown at something. I don’t think the song is 100% about that. It was just my little flag waving stand, the last of my idealism that was then crushed by the actual experience of touring with Metronomy. You can absolutely do everything you need to do on a shoestring. I was thinking about the xx record. They must have started 2 or 3 years ago. Now they’ve just released their album on a tiny label, produced it themselves and it’s brilliant! That’s what we’re trying to do with this band as well. I don’t think the old model really works.

AM: You’ve alluded to the pop sound of Your Twenties, was that a conscious move away from Metronomy?

GS: I just got to the point with Metronomy that I didn’t have the time to do both. They’re still touring that record non stop. Metronomy is completely Joe [Mount]‘s music. Me and him had been in each others bands for ages. He’d been the drummer in one of mine for 3 years, where he drummed and I wrote the songs. Then we swapped and I played bass and he wrote the music. Now it just seemed like the right time. I think he always knew I was going to push off at some point.

AM: Your pop aesthetic seems to be nostalgic of the genre before “that word” became a bad thing….

GS: I was brought up in Devon, we didn’t really have cool music. I sort of learnt everything about the early days, as much as you can learn about music, listening to my parents record collections and other people’s parents’ record collections. That idea of how records from the 60s and 70s could sound really weird and really pop at the same time, like The Kinks – I don’t think we’re a retro band or a throw back band – but what I like about records from that time and the post-punk era and in the 80s, they could make three minute long records that were really memorable and they always had something in the middle of them that twisted it all around somehow. ‘Billionaires’ is quite a classic, straight sound, but in ‘Caught Wheel’, our first single and ‘Gold’, which will probably be our next, I think they have that something a little bit strange. That’s what I’m going for.


AM: How far off an album are you?

GS: I think it’s going to be a 10 or 12 track record. We’ve finished two tracks definitely. It’s pretty much all written, we have two thirds of it demo-ed and I say we’re gonna finish by November.

AM: So Joe is producing tracks on the album? And any more by Stephen Street [producer – Blur, The Smiths]?

GS: Stephen Street did Billionaires, the single, and it was really, really amazing to work with him. I think he did the best thing he could with what we brought to the table. It’s like he did the perfect production of that song. It harks back to all our favourite songs of the 90s. It was like a dream come true. Growing up listening to Blur and The Smiths it really was amazing. At the moment, we’re doing more tracks with Joe. He’s done stuff with us in the past and that kind of opened the sound for us – right but odd. On the couple of tracks we’ve done with him so far, it really works. We’re even gonna do a new version of ‘Billionaires’ for the record which will be Joe’s take on it. It sounds pretty amazing, it’s got a guitar solo in the middle that sounds like an American sitcom, like when Kramer walks in on Seinfeld and there’s that little bit of guitar, it kinda like that.


AM: Your first two singles have been pretty summery. Will there be a darker element to any of the tracks in Your Twenties?

GS: I think it’s going to be quite a varied record. We’ve decided that we’re not going to have any tracks that are really down tempo or ballady. And it’s not that I don’t write those. But on your first album, I kinda want it to be, bam, bam, bam. There are a couple of songs that are shaping up to be, I guess, “bittersweet.” That’s a terribly, pretentious sounding word but it’s not all summer, sunshine. A lot of stuff is nostalgic sounding. You know the calm you get after a crazy night, that’s not necessarily down and depressed but reflective. There are a couple of tracks like that, which should fit nicely within the record so it’s not too gormless.

AM: So by the sounds of it the name Your Twenties is reflective of your music….

GS: In Metronomy, we played quite a few gigs with The Teenagers. That sort of gave me the name. I thought what comes next. I feel like that band really encapsulate what it’s like to be a teenager, you know, snogs behind the bike shed. They hit it on the head. With my twenties so far, everything has been a bit more complicated. I want the music and the lyrics to sum that up. I know that’s a massive statement but I want it to sort of fit that idea. There have been so many amazing points in my twenties and so many dead ends, feelings of exasperation and so many points of elation. The album is going to incorporate all of that. I don’t meet that many people that have been super successful in their twenties but when I do, I’m just like, ‘how do you manage that?’ My twenties have been anything but. It’s an album for people in their twenties that didn’t go into a career in banking.

AM: What else would you like to achieve in your twenties?

GS: I’d just like to get the record out. I’ve always been writing and thinking about the kind of music that I’d make if it was just me. I’ve spent the last few years with Metronomy and then before that in other bands that never really made it. And all the people I’ve been in bands with, have put out albums. So I just want to do that now. When I was 18 I made a pact with the lead singer of the band I was in, that we’d be as big as the Beatles. I remember it now, drinking cider… And gradually my sights have lowered and I just wanna get the record out, tour it, maybe play abroad and travel.

AM: You haven’t toured much yet, have you thought about how a tour would work?

GS: At the moment, because of the equipment we have, which isn’t very much, we’re playing it as a straight four piece indie format. But I guess we’re gonna bring in drum pads and electronic sounds. I suppose it’s a little bit early to start thinking about production but [with encouragement] why not? Video screens… why not one of those gang ways? I’ll run along it. Then there’ll be an acoustic set in the middle, like in the round. Then we ride an elephant like Take That. Ha ha ha.


AM: Tell me about the video to Billionaires.

GS: It was case of timing and a case of something falling apart at the last minute. When you’ve got a band of four people and a video director who is going to work for little money outside of his normal production company. A lot of planets have to align. I was really deflated about it. I was on my own in the flat and it needed something. I am quite pleased with the product but I felt terribly unwell afterwards.

AM: It’s appropriate to what we were saying earlier with the powers of distribution….

GS: Yeah I didn’t really understand the Internet before I did that. I just stuck it up on the myspace and suddenly the next day… it was heartening. You don’t have to spend any money.


Howies in Carnaby Street hosted a very cosy and exclusive “lecture” this week on the joys of knitting. The event was part of the Do lectures project – or a “Wee Do”, page a free event held in the shop where the audience were free to contribute their own thoughts and anecdotes about the topic.


The crowd gathered on wooden stools to drink Eco Warrior beer and have a go at knitting a few mangled rows while Rachael Matthews and Louise Harries discussed their knitting vision, drug a blend of keeping the “make do and mend” spirit alive whilst finding new ways to source wool ethically and use it to make everything possible, from socks and gloves to building insulation. As it says in their newly-printed manifesto: “we believe in making old skills and new technologies work together in harmony”.


As well as running Prick Your Finger, a haberdashery and knitting shop in Bethnal Green, Matthews and Harries are dedicated to helping people start, continue and finish their knitting, with classes and tuition available to help people finish projects they have begun but feel unable to complete. Common problems include endeavours which ended abruptly when the intended recipient died, or a relationship broke up.

Matthews mentioned something that rang very true: that knitting and crafts in general have a lot to do with love. After all, we no longer need to knit or sew clothes to wear, we can buy them ready-made from shops for sometimes ridiculously small amounts of money. When someone makes something for you, you know it’s because they care about you and they want to give you a gift that takes time and effort. If you’re making something for yourself, you know how much work went into it and you will never, ever throw it away! Handmade clothes are “slow fashion”; they take time to form and they end up being much better value because of how long they’ll last and how attached you’ll feel to them.


According to the pair, knitting clubs have popped up all over the place since they first began their public knitting crusade in the 90s, gaining publicity by knitting in nightclubs and on the Circle Line. The craft has become popular again after a bleak few years and the audience for the lecture was a good mix of ages and genders. The lecture eventually turned into a general conversation and it emerged that everyone had a story to tell about knitting from within their family: which relative had taught them to knit, or made them something from scratch.


Sadly, the years that have passed since my last knitting effort have not magically improved my abilities but I was very impressed with others’ attempts. I also thought about the many members of my family who knit, some of them to quite amazingly high standards, and how much they would like the wares of Prick Your Finger, which include painstakingly sourced wool including cashmere and the super-tough fibre used to make their shop sign.

Currently on show at the shop is a knitting venture that has travelled the world: a bench with a knitted cover, which was begun after a bench where older women congregated was replaced with bins by a local council.

There will be more in the Howies Wee Do series, so check their Brainfood feed for further events.
Amelia’s Magazine meets Ukrainian St Martins Fashion Design student Khrystyna Fomenko. St Martin’s is often celebrated for being a hotbed of creativity, mind a tradition Fomenko continues with her translation of French Military wear into casual clothing.

What made you decide to become a fashion designer?
When I was about seven I wanted to be an artist, symptoms but after watching a documentary about Ukrainian artists who were really poor, search I found the idea depressing. So I decided to be a designer and that’s all pretty much, since then I haven’t changed my mind.


Do you design clothes with a specific kind of person in mind?
When I think about who might wear my clothes, I think of a quite androgynous character. I never really think of woman or man, I just think of something sexless.

How did you come up with the idea for your jumpsuit?

The initial idea for the design came from 18th Century French military jackets. I was wondering how I could translate these old designs, initially for men going to war, into a casual and slouchy look. Once I started relaxing the military silhouette, I started to design big and baggy jumpsuits, with those military shoulders decorated in fringes looking like they are sliding down the body. When it was completed, the garment became very urban and ‘street kid‘.


Clothing is essentially functional. Garments are made to provide a shelter from rain, to be touched and worn. How often does your imagination affect the ‘wear ability’ of your designs?

It is interesting to do something that is totally costume like and theatrical, but I think a designer has to find a way of simplifying an idea into something someone can wear. When I’m imagining a garment and realise it’s too ambitious then I rethink it.
My recent design of a coat is quite a show piece. It has really raised shoulder lines and big shoulder pads, but I designed it in a way that allows the wearer to remove those parts, turning it into a practical version of the original.


So would you say that comfort is something you consider a lot?

I don’t think that comfort is dominantly important when it comes to dressing, but personally I think it’s nice when you look at someone and you think that they look like they are relaxed, a kind of comfort that is more about confidence. I aspire to make things that are as wearable as high street clothing, but with as much complexity in detail as couture.


How would you define style?

Style to me is to do with personal interpretation of clothes. I’ve been researching how real people wear their clothes, as opposed to people in fashion magazines who have a whole team of people styling them. Recently, I’ve been looking at how people dress in countries I haven’t been too. I found some images of a man living in Palestine wearing a Nike sports jacket over the top of a thobe, I thought it looked really good, not because it looked like he had purposely styled it that way but because it looked like it happened accidentally.


Do other creative disciplines, such as fine art and architecture, inspire you?

I’m very inspired by the idea of the Art Brut, a term for a type of artist who paints and draws without having any formal historical or institutional references. I want to make something that looks effortless, like those people who look cool but obviously don’t care about fashion. They look so interesting even though it’s just something they have thrown on that day. It’s a natural quirkiness. Obviously, I cant do exactly that, as I need to plan and research how to make something that looks effortless. However, once my clothes are made, I want them to look like something that isn’t trying to look cool, its just incidentally cool.


All photographs of the coat and bra are by Jack Soilleux
All photographs of the Jumpsuit are by Suki Sale

Categories ,Art Brute, ,fashion, ,jumpsuit, ,St Martins, ,undergraduate

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