Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with fashion designer Lu Flux


Christopher Raeburn S/S 2014 by Lilly Allen

There’s no stopping Christopher Raeburn. In 2010, website like this he was the first designer to be awarded the now lauded NEWGEN sponsorship; in 2011 he was named ‘Emerging Designer‘ at the British Fashion Awards. His unique ‘remade’ aesthetic has propelled him to fashion fame and his collections become stronger and stronger with each outing.


All photography by Matt Bramford

S/S 2014 was no exception. Presented in the basement of Victoria House, the bashed white tiles and right-angle catwalk fitted Christopher’s season like no other I saw during the collections.

This season’s inspiration began with the World War II faction the Long Range Desert Group; a reconnaissance organisation operating in the harsh conditions of the Libyan and Egyptian deserts. Yet again, the Raeburn Empire translates a military movement into a modern and functional collection.

The show opened with a pocketed parka and totally unique bomber featuring a heady digital print. I’ve since read on the press release that this is in fact satellite imagery of the desert; the former also featured the print on shorts, the latter was teamed with sand jersey joggers. Both looks set an early precedent that was to continue throughout this mind-blowing homage to textures and details.

Later came Raeburn‘s inimitable REMADE jackets, this time around in camouflage sheets and sand-coloured military parachutes, further extending his dedication to fabrics old and new. Raeburn‘s expertise lies in functional outerwear, and army green jackets with camo details and padded bombers with grey sleeves had me sliding off my seat.

It wasn’t all sand and archetypical desert colours, though. Oh no. Muted pinks used for jackets and shorts reflected the colour of LRDG Land Rovers; bright blue jackets were a welcome juxtaposition and a playful lizard print, this season’s mascot, reminded us that with Raeburn‘s functionality also comes fun.

Enormous rucksacks were presented in collaboration with Porter bags in a range of shapes, lending themselves to long distance explorations. These came in a variety of aesthetic fabrics; some were an extension of the garment they were clinging on to while others complimented such: take sand lizard-print rucksack matched with a jersey/mesh combo sweater.

There was so much more to this collection: tailored blazers reworked the satellite print, mesh tops were layered over tees, a belted trench provided a highlight and the finale; a translucent cape worn over the rucksack, provided press material while still managing to be coherent.


Christopher Raeburn S/S 2014 by Lilly Allen

It was brilliantly exhausting and I can’t wait to dream about buying it all up.


Matt Bramford is the son of a coal miner and Miss Butlins 1979. A fan of fashion from an early age, more about Matt could be found sporting Spring/Summer 1988′s pastel pallette on Blackpool’s glorious sands, being told off carrying his matching bucket and spade in the crook of his arm.

When not designing layouts featuring Stacey Slater or Ronnie Mitchell or, erm, Stacey Slater, at Britain’s favourite TV magazine, he’s usually chained to his desk replying to emails or editing pictures. He takes a hot snap and is a massive fan of Autostitch and Hipstamatic for iPhone, although he gets the occasional pang of guilt for cheating with the latter.

If you want to know what he had for breakfast this morning, find him on twitter @mattbramf. If you want to see some of said ‘hot snaps’ you can here.

Thanks!

Matt Bramford is the son of a coal miner and Miss Butlins 1979. A fan of fashion from an early age, viagra sale Matt could be found sporting Spring/Summer 1988′s pastel pallette on Blackpool’s glorious sands, being told off carrying his matching bucket and spade in the crook of his arm.

When not designing layouts featuring Stacey Slater or Ronnie Mitchell or, erm, Stacey Slater, at Britain’s favourite TV magazine, he’s usually chained to his desk replying to emails or editing pictures. He takes a hot snap and is a massive fan of Autostitch and Hipstamatic for iPhone, although he gets the occasional pang of guilt for cheating with the latter.

If you want to know what he had for breakfast this morning, find him on twitter @mattbramf. If you want to see some of said ‘hot snaps’ you can here.

Thanks!

Illustration by Jenny Robins

Lu Flux is one of the most interesting new British ethical fashion labels and one of the highlights in this year’s Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week. Katia Bololia meets her in her studio at the industrial end of East London to talk about her latest collection, this ‘Dame and Knight’, information pills ethical fashion and taking life less seriously.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the fashion world so far.
I graduated from the Edinburgh School of Art at 2006 and did my first collection for Glasgow Fashion Week, then went on to work with German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm in Paris. I made the decision to move to London and at first I was doing commissions for other people, I hadn’t fully committed myself to fashion at the time until a friend of mine opened a gallery at Brick Lane and I put myself down for a show, so that put me into gear to make a collection for October 2008. That body of work I created eventually led me to the Vauxhaul Fashion Scout Show, which kicked off my career.

From then it escalated, leading to London Fashion Week’s Estethica Exhibition. Tell us about that experience.
It was really good, I hadn’t been to Estethica before and at first I didn’t know what to expect. There were all of the designers I’ve met before and it was nice because it felt like we were this strange ethical family, I’ve also met lots of people that I’ve heard about and wanted to meet personally. It was really lovely to be part of it and it was very exciting for me to be part of the LFW, I’ve never been in such a place before where I could meet people from all around the world.

What are the things that interest you in general?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for myself but when I don’t do fashion I am very interested in art, galleries and culture mainly; music, films and everything. I like getting away to the countryside as well, escaping from it all.

When it comes to your label, do you have a fashion manifesto and if so what is it?
I read Vivienne’s Westwood manifesto recently and I suppose mine is very similar to hers, in the idea of buying something for longevity. I am also against disposable fashion. I think we should buy something because we love it and because it reflects our personality. I feel that all of my things transcend this message, to be loved for a long time.

There is a very interesting story when it comes to your fabrics, can you tell us where you source your fabrics from?
I used to source everything from charity and vintage shops, car boot sales and markets myself. Although I loved it, it is quite a difficult process as it takes up a lot of time and effort. I can’t commit myself to doing that anymore so I started working with a recycling company that is actually around the corner from my studio. These are fabrics coming from clothing banks from all around London, I may get fabric pieces, sheets or even clothes that I will take apart. The amount of waste that gets thrown every day is phenomenal and I am happy that I can make new, exciting pieces of it.

During that process, do you have difficulties sometimes finding the right thing for you? Or the opposite – finding a “small treasure” ?
Definitely, one piece of fabric can spark off a completely different design angle. I try not to have a specific design idea in my head, I prefer to see what I can get first and develop my designs from that; it helps the design process. If I can’t find something that I have in my mind, something else will come along and take its place. I also work with organic fabrics – the variety that’s out there is getting so much bigger these days and more accessible.

Speaking of organic, and its growth nowadays, I sometimes wonder if when companies take the eco route (whether it be fashion or food or whatever) they do so just because it has become fashionable. Although it all contributes to the greater good, do you feel that in some way ethical fashion has become commercial?
Green is definitely a buzz-word at the moment and everybody, be it in the fashion industry or not, tries to become as ethical as possible. I am not necessarily coming from that angle, even though I obviously care a lot about what I do and how it affects the environment, there is just too much waste and that affects everyone. But for me it’s more about the final garment than the ethical process; the fact that these pieces are unique, they’re more like art pieces.

In your collections we see an almost fairy-tale world. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have a personal collection of vintage photographs that I like to I look at. I love this time when photography was just starting and you get these moments frozen in time. Right now everyone uses photography all the time, capturing every moment, but back then you only see a fraction of their life and you have to imagine for yourself what their world might have been like. Obviously, I am also influenced by fairy-tales and their magical feeling; the escape from reality. Fashion is so intense, serious and glamorous and I want to take another spin on it, to keep it quite child-like and fun.

By seeing your collections past and present, one gets into a playful mood. Do you think that fashion is a protest these days, like it used to be in the past?
I think everyone’s got their point that they’re trying to make. My point is that you can have fun while making your point, it doesn’t all have to be serious. I want people to realize that they can have fun in whatever they’re doing and that humour can be injected in everything. Everything is so serious nowadays, fast-forward and busy.

For your last collection you’ve collaborated with London-based artist Alex Chinneck and traditional cordwainers Green Shoes. Tell us a little about that collaboration.
It was easy collaborating with Alex – he’s not only a wonderful sculptor but also my boyfriend! He had this paper cut-out of an explosion called Ka-boom and we both came up with the idea of translating it into a piece of clothing. It is a wonderful pictorial piece and it was also a real test for my patch-working abilities – it was really technical and much more complicated than I thought it would be, so it was really rewarding when it was finished. Then with Green Shoes, it all started when I bought a pair for Alex’s birthday and I decided to customise them for him, so it all unfolded with what I did and we decided to have them in the collection and a bag as well. They are all made of vegetarian leather and tanned with vegetable dye, so they’re as ethical as a shoe can be. Also, the cut-outs I used are off-cuts from the leftovers from Green Shoes to reduce waste once again.


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Finally, an urban fashion legend says that Tom Ford offered Stella McCartney the role of design director at Gucci. When McCartney said no fur or leather, and Ford couldn’t oblige, she turned down the role. What would you do in a similar dilemma, in a fantastic scenario where you are offered a dream job but you have to compromise your principles in ethical fashion?
Actually, I’m doing my dream job already! I don’t want to buy fabric off the roll, I have to think within these parameters and I like the barriers that I have put to myself, otherwise it is not ethical. This way I push myself to do something a little bit extra, it’s not as easy because all these fabrics are not given to me on a plate. When you are more resourceful and you push yourself creatively then the final result is much more rewarding. I don’t want to preach to people, but I want to plant an idea. If people like it they might be inspired and follow my example. Fingers crossed!


Lu Flux photographed by Holly Falconer

Categories ,Alex Chinneck, ,Charity shops, ,estethica, ,Ethical Fashion, ,Fabrics, ,Green Shoes, ,london, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lu Flux, ,Manifesto, ,organic, ,recycle, ,Reuse, ,Vintage shops, ,Vivienne Westwood

Similar Posts:






Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with fashion designer Lu Flux


Christopher Raeburn S/S 2014 by Lilly Allen

There’s no stopping Christopher Raeburn. In 2010, website like this he was the first designer to be awarded the now lauded NEWGEN sponsorship; in 2011 he was named ‘Emerging Designer‘ at the British Fashion Awards. His unique ‘remade’ aesthetic has propelled him to fashion fame and his collections become stronger and stronger with each outing.


All photography by Matt Bramford

S/S 2014 was no exception. Presented in the basement of Victoria House, the bashed white tiles and right-angle catwalk fitted Christopher’s season like no other I saw during the collections.

This season’s inspiration began with the World War II faction the Long Range Desert Group; a reconnaissance organisation operating in the harsh conditions of the Libyan and Egyptian deserts. Yet again, the Raeburn Empire translates a military movement into a modern and functional collection.

The show opened with a pocketed parka and totally unique bomber featuring a heady digital print. I’ve since read on the press release that this is in fact satellite imagery of the desert; the former also featured the print on shorts, the latter was teamed with sand jersey joggers. Both looks set an early precedent that was to continue throughout this mind-blowing homage to textures and details.

Later came Raeburn‘s inimitable REMADE jackets, this time around in camouflage sheets and sand-coloured military parachutes, further extending his dedication to fabrics old and new. Raeburn‘s expertise lies in functional outerwear, and army green jackets with camo details and padded bombers with grey sleeves had me sliding off my seat.

It wasn’t all sand and archetypical desert colours, though. Oh no. Muted pinks used for jackets and shorts reflected the colour of LRDG Land Rovers; bright blue jackets were a welcome juxtaposition and a playful lizard print, this season’s mascot, reminded us that with Raeburn‘s functionality also comes fun.

Enormous rucksacks were presented in collaboration with Porter bags in a range of shapes, lending themselves to long distance explorations. These came in a variety of aesthetic fabrics; some were an extension of the garment they were clinging on to while others complimented such: take sand lizard-print rucksack matched with a jersey/mesh combo sweater.

There was so much more to this collection: tailored blazers reworked the satellite print, mesh tops were layered over tees, a belted trench provided a highlight and the finale; a translucent cape worn over the rucksack, provided press material while still managing to be coherent.


Christopher Raeburn S/S 2014 by Lilly Allen

It was brilliantly exhausting and I can’t wait to dream about buying it all up.


Matt Bramford is the son of a coal miner and Miss Butlins 1979. A fan of fashion from an early age, more about Matt could be found sporting Spring/Summer 1988′s pastel pallette on Blackpool’s glorious sands, being told off carrying his matching bucket and spade in the crook of his arm.

When not designing layouts featuring Stacey Slater or Ronnie Mitchell or, erm, Stacey Slater, at Britain’s favourite TV magazine, he’s usually chained to his desk replying to emails or editing pictures. He takes a hot snap and is a massive fan of Autostitch and Hipstamatic for iPhone, although he gets the occasional pang of guilt for cheating with the latter.

If you want to know what he had for breakfast this morning, find him on twitter @mattbramf. If you want to see some of said ‘hot snaps’ you can here.

Thanks!

Matt Bramford is the son of a coal miner and Miss Butlins 1979. A fan of fashion from an early age, viagra sale Matt could be found sporting Spring/Summer 1988′s pastel pallette on Blackpool’s glorious sands, being told off carrying his matching bucket and spade in the crook of his arm.

When not designing layouts featuring Stacey Slater or Ronnie Mitchell or, erm, Stacey Slater, at Britain’s favourite TV magazine, he’s usually chained to his desk replying to emails or editing pictures. He takes a hot snap and is a massive fan of Autostitch and Hipstamatic for iPhone, although he gets the occasional pang of guilt for cheating with the latter.

If you want to know what he had for breakfast this morning, find him on twitter @mattbramf. If you want to see some of said ‘hot snaps’ you can here.

Thanks!

Illustration by Jenny Robins

Lu Flux is one of the most interesting new British ethical fashion labels and one of the highlights in this year’s Estethica exhibition at London Fashion Week. Katia Bololia meets her in her studio at the industrial end of East London to talk about her latest collection, this ‘Dame and Knight’, information pills ethical fashion and taking life less seriously.

Firstly, tell us a bit about yourself and your journey in the fashion world so far.
I graduated from the Edinburgh School of Art at 2006 and did my first collection for Glasgow Fashion Week, then went on to work with German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm in Paris. I made the decision to move to London and at first I was doing commissions for other people, I hadn’t fully committed myself to fashion at the time until a friend of mine opened a gallery at Brick Lane and I put myself down for a show, so that put me into gear to make a collection for October 2008. That body of work I created eventually led me to the Vauxhaul Fashion Scout Show, which kicked off my career.

From then it escalated, leading to London Fashion Week’s Estethica Exhibition. Tell us about that experience.
It was really good, I hadn’t been to Estethica before and at first I didn’t know what to expect. There were all of the designers I’ve met before and it was nice because it felt like we were this strange ethical family, I’ve also met lots of people that I’ve heard about and wanted to meet personally. It was really lovely to be part of it and it was very exciting for me to be part of the LFW, I’ve never been in such a place before where I could meet people from all around the world.

What are the things that interest you in general?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of time for myself but when I don’t do fashion I am very interested in art, galleries and culture mainly; music, films and everything. I like getting away to the countryside as well, escaping from it all.

When it comes to your label, do you have a fashion manifesto and if so what is it?
I read Vivienne’s Westwood manifesto recently and I suppose mine is very similar to hers, in the idea of buying something for longevity. I am also against disposable fashion. I think we should buy something because we love it and because it reflects our personality. I feel that all of my things transcend this message, to be loved for a long time.

There is a very interesting story when it comes to your fabrics, can you tell us where you source your fabrics from?
I used to source everything from charity and vintage shops, car boot sales and markets myself. Although I loved it, it is quite a difficult process as it takes up a lot of time and effort. I can’t commit myself to doing that anymore so I started working with a recycling company that is actually around the corner from my studio. These are fabrics coming from clothing banks from all around London, I may get fabric pieces, sheets or even clothes that I will take apart. The amount of waste that gets thrown every day is phenomenal and I am happy that I can make new, exciting pieces of it.

During that process, do you have difficulties sometimes finding the right thing for you? Or the opposite – finding a “small treasure” ?
Definitely, one piece of fabric can spark off a completely different design angle. I try not to have a specific design idea in my head, I prefer to see what I can get first and develop my designs from that; it helps the design process. If I can’t find something that I have in my mind, something else will come along and take its place. I also work with organic fabrics – the variety that’s out there is getting so much bigger these days and more accessible.

Speaking of organic, and its growth nowadays, I sometimes wonder if when companies take the eco route (whether it be fashion or food or whatever) they do so just because it has become fashionable. Although it all contributes to the greater good, do you feel that in some way ethical fashion has become commercial?
Green is definitely a buzz-word at the moment and everybody, be it in the fashion industry or not, tries to become as ethical as possible. I am not necessarily coming from that angle, even though I obviously care a lot about what I do and how it affects the environment, there is just too much waste and that affects everyone. But for me it’s more about the final garment than the ethical process; the fact that these pieces are unique, they’re more like art pieces.

In your collections we see an almost fairy-tale world. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I have a personal collection of vintage photographs that I like to I look at. I love this time when photography was just starting and you get these moments frozen in time. Right now everyone uses photography all the time, capturing every moment, but back then you only see a fraction of their life and you have to imagine for yourself what their world might have been like. Obviously, I am also influenced by fairy-tales and their magical feeling; the escape from reality. Fashion is so intense, serious and glamorous and I want to take another spin on it, to keep it quite child-like and fun.

By seeing your collections past and present, one gets into a playful mood. Do you think that fashion is a protest these days, like it used to be in the past?
I think everyone’s got their point that they’re trying to make. My point is that you can have fun while making your point, it doesn’t all have to be serious. I want people to realize that they can have fun in whatever they’re doing and that humour can be injected in everything. Everything is so serious nowadays, fast-forward and busy.

For your last collection you’ve collaborated with London-based artist Alex Chinneck and traditional cordwainers Green Shoes. Tell us a little about that collaboration.
It was easy collaborating with Alex – he’s not only a wonderful sculptor but also my boyfriend! He had this paper cut-out of an explosion called Ka-boom and we both came up with the idea of translating it into a piece of clothing. It is a wonderful pictorial piece and it was also a real test for my patch-working abilities – it was really technical and much more complicated than I thought it would be, so it was really rewarding when it was finished. Then with Green Shoes, it all started when I bought a pair for Alex’s birthday and I decided to customise them for him, so it all unfolded with what I did and we decided to have them in the collection and a bag as well. They are all made of vegetarian leather and tanned with vegetable dye, so they’re as ethical as a shoe can be. Also, the cut-outs I used are off-cuts from the leftovers from Green Shoes to reduce waste once again.


Illustration by Jenny Robins

Finally, an urban fashion legend says that Tom Ford offered Stella McCartney the role of design director at Gucci. When McCartney said no fur or leather, and Ford couldn’t oblige, she turned down the role. What would you do in a similar dilemma, in a fantastic scenario where you are offered a dream job but you have to compromise your principles in ethical fashion?
Actually, I’m doing my dream job already! I don’t want to buy fabric off the roll, I have to think within these parameters and I like the barriers that I have put to myself, otherwise it is not ethical. This way I push myself to do something a little bit extra, it’s not as easy because all these fabrics are not given to me on a plate. When you are more resourceful and you push yourself creatively then the final result is much more rewarding. I don’t want to preach to people, but I want to plant an idea. If people like it they might be inspired and follow my example. Fingers crossed!


Lu Flux photographed by Holly Falconer

Categories ,Alex Chinneck, ,Charity shops, ,estethica, ,Ethical Fashion, ,Fabrics, ,Green Shoes, ,london, ,London Fashion Week, ,Lu Flux, ,Manifesto, ,organic, ,recycle, ,Reuse, ,Vintage shops, ,Vivienne Westwood

Similar Posts:






Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with ethical designer Charlie Boots

Detail of Interrogator/guard’s call button in Camp Five courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph by Valerie Pezeron

Where is the fire in Edmund Clark’s exhibition? Guantanamo: If the Light goes out is a photography exhibition now showing at Flowers galleries in the East End next to all those yummy Vietnamese restaurants. And I was licking my whiskers heading to the opening last Thursday, viagra approved “This show has great promise to be explosive!”
Edmund Clark’s commercial work for people like Adidas is widely known. He balances advertising assignments with smaller more prestigious gallery projects that garner critical acclaim and his first book was a well-lauded affair. His specialty? Private and personal portraits conveyed through domestic settings and people’s objects.

Ex-detainee’s sitting room and original handwritten child’s letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

It’s a pity those small vignettes of everyday life were not so successful this time around. What went wrong? For one thing the large scale of the photographs did not serve what should be a highly charged narrative in intimacy. The gallery had a hand in it too with crude choices such as similar frames to tie together the upstairs Clarke exhibition and Nadav Kander’s Yangtzee show downstairs.

Detail of Administrative Review Board Letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Original, malady handwritten and hand-censored letter to a detainee from his daughter. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

I learned of ex-inmates trying to cope with life after Guantanamo while talking to Clarke. These folks had no anger but seemed resigned to their fate and had formed an ex-Guantanamo old-timers community thus a support system. Very touching stuff indeed and the letters brought tears to my eyes. But I struggled to find a sense of broken domesticity in the Clark’s own pictures on display and some are more suggestive than others.

Camp One, store exercise cage. Camp One, Isolation Unit. Camp Six, mobile force feeding chair. Ex-detainee’s sitting room. All Photographs courtesy of Edmund Clarke.

The irony in all of this is, as my fire was never lit Nadav Kander’s sweeping evocative Chinese landscapes gradually pulled me downstairs. Those beautiful pictures of Yangtzee- The Long River merge the great beauty of China with the Chinese government’s attempt at taming it.

Of the two private views at Flowers downstairs was the place to be at. Photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron.

This great battle I witnessed first hand when I visited Shenzhen a few years ago and saw for myself the damages on nature and the people living off the land. There the large format suits the visual conflict between the fragility of the daily domestic scenes and the imposing totems of China’s economic success. Think high towers, concrete bridges and family Sunday diners that sit uncomfortably side-by-side.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Detail of Interrogator/guard’s call button in Camp Five courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph by Valerie Pezeron

Where is the fire in Edmund Clark’s exhibition? Guantanamo: If the Light goes out is a photography exhibition now showing at Flowers galleries in the East End next to all those yummy Vietnamese restaurants. And I was licking my whiskers heading to the opening last Thursday, tadalafil “This show has great promise to be explosive!”
Edmund Clark’s commercial work for people like Adidas is widely known. He balances advertising assignments with smaller more prestigious gallery projects that garner critical acclaim and his first book was a well-lauded affair. His specialty? Private and personal portraits conveyed through domestic settings and people’s objects.

Ex-detainee’s sitting room and original handwritten child’s letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

It’s a pity those small vignettes of everyday life were not so successful this time around. What went wrong? For one thing the large scale of the photographs did not serve what should be a highly charged narrative in intimacy. The gallery had a hand in it too with crude choices such as similar frames to tie together the upstairs Clarke exhibition and Nadav Kander’s Yangtzee show downstairs.

Detail of Administrative Review Board Letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Original, sick handwritten and hand-censored letter to a detainee from his daughter. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

I learned of ex-inmates trying to cope with life after Guantanamo while talking to Clarke. These folks had no anger but seemed resigned to their fate and had formed an ex-Guantanamo old-timers community thus a support system. Very touching stuff indeed and the letters brought tears to my eyes. But I struggled to find a sense of broken domesticity in the Clark’s own pictures on display and some are more suggestive than others.

Camp One, exercise cage. Camp One, Isolation Unit. Camp Six, mobile force feeding chair. Ex-detainee’s sitting room. All Photographs courtesy of Edmund Clarke.

The irony in all of this is, as my fire was never lit Nadav Kander’s sweeping evocative Chinese landscapes gradually pulled me downstairs. Those beautiful pictures of Yangtzee- The Long River merge the great beauty of China with the Chinese government’s attempt at taming it.

Of the two private views at Flowers downstairs was the place to be at. Photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron.

This great battle I witnessed first hand when I visited Shenzhen a few years ago and saw for myself the damages on nature and the people living off the land. There the large format suits the visual conflict between the fragility of the daily domestic scenes and the imposing totems of China’s economic success. Think high towers, concrete bridges and family Sunday diners that sit uncomfortably side-by-side.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Detail of Interrogator/guard’s call button in Camp Five courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph by Valerie Pezeron

Where is the fire in Edmund Clark’s exhibition? Guantanamo: If the Light goes out is a photography exhibition now showing at Flowers galleries in the East End next to all those yummy Vietnamese restaurants. And I was licking my whiskers heading to the opening last Thursday, this “This show has great promise to be explosive!”
Edmund Clark’s commercial work for people like Adidas is widely known. He balances advertising assignments with smaller more prestigious gallery projects that garner critical acclaim and his first book was a well-lauded affair. His specialty? Private and personal portraits conveyed through domestic settings and people’s objects.

Ex-detainee’s sitting room and original handwritten child’s letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

It’s a pity those small vignettes of everyday life were not so successful this time around. What went wrong? For one thing the large scale of the photographs did not serve what should be a highly charged narrative in intimacy. The gallery had a hand in it too with crude choices such as similar frames to tie together the upstairs Clarke exhibition and Nadav Kander’s Yangtzee show downstairs.

Detail of Administrative Review Board Letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Original, stomach handwritten and hand-censored letter to a detainee from his daughter. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

I learned of ex-inmates trying to cope with life after Guantanamo while talking to Clarke. These folks had no anger but seemed resigned to their fate and had formed an ex-Guantanamo old-timers community thus a support system. Very touching stuff indeed and the letters brought tears to my eyes. But I struggled to find a sense of broken domesticity in the Clark’s own pictures on display and some are more suggestive than others.

Camp One, exercise cage. Camp One, Isolation Unit. Camp Six, mobile force feeding chair. Ex-detainee’s sitting room. All Photographs courtesy of Edmund Clarke.

The irony in all of this is, as my fire was never lit Nadav Kander’s sweeping evocative Chinese landscapes gradually pulled me downstairs. Those beautiful pictures of Yangtzee- The Long River merge the great beauty of China with the Chinese government’s attempt at taming it.

Of the two private views at Flowers downstairs was the place to be at. Photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron.

This great battle I witnessed first hand when I visited Shenzhen a few years ago and saw for myself the damages on nature and the people living off the land. There the large format suits the visual conflict between the fragility of the daily domestic scenes and the imposing totems of China’s economic success. Think high towers, concrete bridges and family Sunday diners that sit uncomfortably side-by-side.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Detail of Interrogator/guard’s call button in Camp Five courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph by Valerie Pezeron

Where is the fire in Edmund Clark’s exhibition? Guantanamo: If the Light goes out is a photography exhibition now showing at Flowers galleries in the East End next to all those yummy Vietnamese restaurants. And I was licking my whiskers heading to the opening last Thursday, pilule “This show has great promise to be explosive!”
Edmund Clark’s commercial work for people like Adidas is widely known. He balances advertising assignments with smaller more prestigious gallery projects that garner critical acclaim and his first book was a well-lauded affair. His specialty? Private and personal portraits conveyed through domestic settings and people’s objects.

Ex-detainee’s sitting room and original handwritten child’s letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

It’s a pity those small vignettes of everyday life were not so successful this time around. What went wrong? For one thing the large scale of the photographs did not serve what should be a highly charged narrative in intimacy. The gallery had a hand in it too with crude choices such as similar frames to tie together the upstairs Clarke exhibition and Nadav Kander’s Yangtzee show downstairs.

Detail of Administrative Review Board Letter courtesy of Edmund Clarke. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

Original, pill handwritten and hand-censored letter to a detainee from his daughter. Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron

I learned of ex-inmates trying to cope with life after Guantanamo while talking to Clarke. These folks had no anger but seemed resigned to their fate and had formed an ex-Guantanamo old-timers community thus a support system. Very touching stuff indeed and the letters brought tears to my eyes. But I struggled to find a sense of broken domesticity in the Clark’s own pictures on display and some are more suggestive than others.

Camp One, ed exercise cage. Camp One, Isolation Unit. Camp Six, mobile force feeding chair. Ex-detainee’s sitting room. All Photographs courtesy of Edmund Clarke.

The irony in all of this is, as my fire was never lit Nadav Kander’s sweeping evocative Chinese landscapes gradually pulled me downstairs. Those beautiful pictures of Yangtzee- The Long River merge the great beauty of China with the Chinese government’s attempt at taming it.

Of the two private views at Flowers downstairs was the place to be at. Photographs courtesy of Valerie Pezeron.

This great battle I witnessed first hand when I visited Shenzhen a few years ago and saw for myself the damages on nature and the people living off the land. There the large format suits the visual conflict between the fragility of the daily domestic scenes and the imposing totems of China’s economic success. Think high towers, concrete bridges and family Sunday diners that sit uncomfortably side-by-side by the banks of the Yangtze river.


Photograph courtesy of Valerie Pezeron


Illustration by Jenny Costello

Charlie Boots’ hand-made, sildenafil one-of-a-kind pieces, website like this made from reclaimed and vintage fabrics, discount are an antidote to fast fashion and the over-hyped high street. And they’re reversible! I had a chat with Charlie about staying sustainable (but stylish), her love of vintage and fashion’s green credentials…

How did you end up as an ethical clothing designer – had you always planned to go down the ethical route?
I became a fashion designer at the age of 28, after wanting to do it since I was 10! I lived in Bangkok in my early twenties and would take my designs to the tailors to be made. This could be hugely frustrating, as a person’s interpretation of a design often does not match the idea (not to mention the language barrier). I realised I needed to learn to pattern cut myself, and so then went on to do a fashion degree at Bath Spa University. It was here that I started looking into ethical fashion, and once I understand the enormous negative impact of this industry on so many people, I knew that doing it ethically was the only route I could take.


Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

All your designs are made from ‘ethically sourced materials’ –what do you mean by this?
I use organic, fair-trade, vintage, re-claimed and sustainable fabrics. Using organic fabrics mean that cotton workers are not suffering serious health conditions and often death (20,000 a year) as a result of the pesticides used. Fabrics like bamboo and hemp are sustainable – these two in particular do not require pesticides, much water or a lot of care. 95% of my fabrics are sourced in the UK, though the bamboo, hemp and vintage 1930s/40s fabrics come from the USA. The kimono fabrics are from Japan, of course!

A lot of your designs are reversible – which I love! Is this another way to make your clothing more sustainable?
Yes, most of the designs are reversible and this does add to their sustainability. I finish almost all of the garments with couture ‘bound’ seams. This enables them to be reversed as you do not see any overlocking (a common and cheap way to finish garments) when the garment is reversed. This gives the garment a subtly different look. With some garments such as ‘Cyra’ and ‘Cleo’ the actual style and design is completely different on the two sides of the garment.

You design women’s clothing and accessories – any plans to branch out into menswear or any other fields?
I love designing and pattern cutting but only have time to do so much! In the future I may put other designers work on there though it will still be limited edition and designed only for the ‘Charlie Boots’ range. It is very tough to forge a career in fashion design and I’d like to help people who have talent. I will also be selling limited edition UK made jewellery on the site from October.

How are reclaimed fabrics different from vintage materials?
A vintage fabric is a re-claimed fabric really, but a re-claimed fabric is not necessarily vintage. For example, some of my fabrics are sample pieces from fabric printers/wholesalers. These would otherwise go in the bin when the company no longer sell that fabric.

Is everything on each of your garments ‘ethical’ – right down to the zips?
At the moment all the zips and most of the buttons are re-claimed. They came from a company that was holding some abandoned stock that they couldn’t be bothered to re-home. It was about to head for landfill and I came upon them by chance.


Illustration by Antonia Parker

When designing each collection, are you inspired by fabrics themselves or do you create designs and then look for your materials?
I normally create designs with a fabric type in mind but I don’t usually choose the exact fabrics first. Sometimes when a toile is finished I think it would look better in a different weight of fabric, so will then move in another direction with it.

You have a ten-item limit of each design – why is this, and do you to ever make special one-off items?
Some of the items I have made are actually one-offs. This tends to happen if I have a small piece of printed fabric that I just have to use because I love it, but sadly there is only enough for one garment.
I put a limit of ten items on one design because I want to give my customers something unique that they are very unlikely to see anybody else wearing.

At the moment your designs are only available online – why is this? Any plans to expand to selling your product in other shops in the future?
My garments will be going onto a few more on-line shops and at some point they may go into shops. The problem with wholesaling is that I would make very little money if I sold my garments to shops at expected wholesale prices. Everything is UK-made so this adds a lot to the cost of a garment.


Illustration by Aniela Murphy

Do you think the fad for fast, throwaway fashion is coming to an end, and being replaced by a need for wearable, ‘investment pieces’?
I hope so! But it won’t happen overnight. Fast fashion is still a huge part of Western culture. Primark makes more money than any other high street clothes shop. Over the last decade the price of clothes has dropped and the amount we purchase has gone up. Shops can have up to ten ‘seasons’ where there was once only two. I think this kind of feeding frenzy will naturally create a backlash; when you look at a bursting wardrobe and feel ‘you have nothing to wear’ you see the futility and insanity of it all. If you buy an item that is well made, well cut and has had a lot of thought put into its design then you can spend more money and really value and treasure that item.

What with big name ethical fashion brands like Edun and Noir, and the Estethica tent at London Fashion Week, Eco Fashion seems to be having a moment – do you think the Fashion Industry is really trying to change its bad habits, or does it have a long way to go?
I think there is a growing core of people that want to change the ways of the fashion industry and I believe that it will happen in time. Educating people is important and I’m happy that educational establishments are paying a lot more attention to ethics on fashion courses. I suspect that a lot of larger businesses to a certain extent are paying lip service when claiming to be more ethical, but doing something about how they operate is better than nothing and it can help to bring the issues into the limelight.

What are the challenges that you face as a fashion designer committed to eco-friendly/ethical design?
I think my main challenge is sourcing fabrics that I think people will like and that are also ethical. I want to bring in more organic and fair-trade fabrics but the former are extremely expensive and the latter are often done on hand-looms – which leave small imperfections in the weave. These are part of the charm of such fabric, but I am not sure that everyone will see it that way! This all has to work as a business and I need to make products that will sell.

You exhibited at Vintage at Goodwood recently (a festival that caused a lot of debate on the Amelia’s website!) What do you think of the day – a celebration of Vintage or overhyped and expensive?
I had the best time! Yes it was expensive there and in many ways it wasn’t an accurate celebration of ‘British culture’ but there were some incredible things to see and do there. As a lover of design I was completely bowled over by the effort that people had made with their outfits (http://tiny.cc/qsoqh)! I had a fantastic time and I will definitely go back next year.

Any more pop-ups or exhibitions in the pipeline?
Yes. I will be selling at ‘Fresh Fashion Flash’ as part of Portobello market this weekend (of Oct 23rd) and for two more weekends after that. It is essentially a part of the market that is dedicated to fashion students and graduates as well as new designers.There is a little more information about it here!

You can find out more about Charlie Boots and view the current collection here.

Categories ,Aniela Murphy, ,Antonia Parker, ,Charlie Boots, ,E-commerce, ,Edun, ,estethica, ,ethical, ,Fabrics, ,fashion, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Hand-made, ,Jenny Costello, ,jewellery, ,noir, ,Re-claimed, ,Reversible, ,sustainable, ,Vintage at Goodwood, ,Zips

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Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with ethical designer Charlie Boots


Illustration by Jenny Costello

Charlie Boots’ hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces, made from reclaimed and vintage fabrics, are an antidote to fast fashion and the over-hyped high street. And they’re reversible! I had a chat with Charlie about staying sustainable (but stylish), her love of vintage and fashion’s green credentials…

How did you end up as an ethical clothing designer – had you always planned to go down the ethical route?
I became a fashion designer at the age of 28, after wanting to do it since I was 10! I lived in Bangkok in my early twenties and would take my designs to the tailors to be made. This could be hugely frustrating, as a person’s interpretation of a design often does not match the idea (not to mention the language barrier). I realised I needed to learn to pattern cut myself, and so then went on to do a fashion degree at Bath Spa University. It was here that I started looking into ethical fashion, and once I understand the enormous negative impact of this industry on so many people, I knew that doing it ethically was the only route I could take.


Illustration by Gareth A Hopkins

All your designs are made from ‘ethically sourced materials’ –what do you mean by this?
I use organic, fair-trade, vintage, re-claimed and sustainable fabrics. Using organic fabrics mean that cotton workers are not suffering serious health conditions and often death (20,000 a year) as a result of the pesticides used. Fabrics like bamboo and hemp are sustainable – these two in particular do not require pesticides, much water or a lot of care. 95% of my fabrics are sourced in the UK, though the bamboo, hemp and vintage 1930s/40s fabrics come from the USA. The kimono fabrics are from Japan, of course!

A lot of your designs are reversible – which I love! Is this another way to make your clothing more sustainable?
Yes, most of the designs are reversible and this does add to their sustainability. I finish almost all of the garments with couture ‘bound’ seams. This enables them to be reversed as you do not see any overlocking (a common and cheap way to finish garments) when the garment is reversed. This gives the garment a subtly different look. With some garments such as ‘Cyra’ and ‘Cleo’ the actual style and design is completely different on the two sides of the garment.

You design women’s clothing and accessories – any plans to branch out into menswear or any other fields?
I love designing and pattern cutting but only have time to do so much! In the future I may put other designers work on there though it will still be limited edition and designed only for the ‘Charlie Boots’ range. It is very tough to forge a career in fashion design and I’d like to help people who have talent. I will also be selling limited edition UK made jewellery on the site from October.

How are reclaimed fabrics different from vintage materials?
A vintage fabric is a re-claimed fabric really, but a re-claimed fabric is not necessarily vintage. For example, some of my fabrics are sample pieces from fabric printers/wholesalers. These would otherwise go in the bin when the company no longer sell that fabric.

Is everything on each of your garments ‘ethical’ – right down to the zips?
At the moment all the zips and most of the buttons are re-claimed. They came from a company that was holding some abandoned stock that they couldn’t be bothered to re-home. It was about to head for landfill and I came upon them by chance.


Illustration by Antonia Parker

When designing each collection, are you inspired by fabrics themselves or do you create designs and then look for your materials?
I normally create designs with a fabric type in mind but I don’t usually choose the exact fabrics first. Sometimes when a toile is finished I think it would look better in a different weight of fabric, so will then move in another direction with it.

You have a ten-item limit of each design – why is this, and do you to ever make special one-off items?
Some of the items I have made are actually one-offs. This tends to happen if I have a small piece of printed fabric that I just have to use because I love it, but sadly there is only enough for one garment.
I put a limit of ten items on one design because I want to give my customers something unique that they are very unlikely to see anybody else wearing.

At the moment your designs are only available online – why is this? Any plans to expand to selling your product in other shops in the future?
My garments will be going onto a few more on-line shops and at some point they may go into shops. The problem with wholesaling is that I would make very little money if I sold my garments to shops at expected wholesale prices. Everything is UK-made so this adds a lot to the cost of a garment.


Illustration by Aniela Murphy

Do you think the fad for fast, throwaway fashion is coming to an end, and being replaced by a need for wearable, ‘investment pieces’?
I hope so! But it won’t happen overnight. Fast fashion is still a huge part of Western culture. Primark makes more money than any other high street clothes shop. Over the last decade the price of clothes has dropped and the amount we purchase has gone up. Shops can have up to ten ‘seasons’ where there was once only two. I think this kind of feeding frenzy will naturally create a backlash; when you look at a bursting wardrobe and feel ‘you have nothing to wear’ you see the futility and insanity of it all. If you buy an item that is well made, well cut and has had a lot of thought put into its design then you can spend more money and really value and treasure that item.

What with big name ethical fashion brands like Edun and Noir, and the Estethica tent at London Fashion Week, Eco Fashion seems to be having a moment – do you think the Fashion Industry is really trying to change its bad habits, or does it have a long way to go?
I think there is a growing core of people that want to change the ways of the fashion industry and I believe that it will happen in time. Educating people is important and I’m happy that educational establishments are paying a lot more attention to ethics on fashion courses. I suspect that a lot of larger businesses to a certain extent are paying lip service when claiming to be more ethical, but doing something about how they operate is better than nothing and it can help to bring the issues into the limelight.

What are the challenges that you face as a fashion designer committed to eco-friendly/ethical design?
I think my main challenge is sourcing fabrics that I think people will like and that are also ethical. I want to bring in more organic and fair-trade fabrics but the former are extremely expensive and the latter are often done on hand-looms – which leave small imperfections in the weave. These are part of the charm of such fabric, but I am not sure that everyone will see it that way! This all has to work as a business and I need to make products that will sell.

You exhibited at Vintage at Goodwood recently (a festival that caused a lot of debate on the Amelia’s website!) What do you think of the day – a celebration of Vintage or overhyped and expensive?
I had the best time! Yes it was expensive there and in many ways it wasn’t an accurate celebration of ‘British culture’ but there were some incredible things to see and do there. As a lover of design I was completely bowled over by the effort that people had made with their outfits (http://tiny.cc/qsoqh)! I had a fantastic time and I will definitely go back next year.

Any more pop-ups or exhibitions in the pipeline?
Yes. I will be selling at ‘Fresh Fashion Flash’ as part of Portobello market this weekend (of Oct 23rd) and for two more weekends after that. It is essentially a part of the market that is dedicated to fashion students and graduates as well as new designers.There is a little more information about it here!

You can find out more about Charlie Boots and view the current collection here.



Categories ,Aniela Murphy, ,Antonia Parker, ,Charlie Boots, ,E-commerce, ,Edun, ,estethica, ,ethical, ,Fabrics, ,fashion, ,Gareth A Hopkins, ,Hand-made, ,Jenny Costello, ,jewellery, ,noir, ,Re-claimed, ,Reversible, ,sustainable, ,Vintage at Goodwood, ,Zips

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Amelia’s Magazine | My Habbit is Not a Hobbit – How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint


All photography by Maria Domican

I was nervous upon arriving at Vintage at Goodwood… Nervous because I had called in sick to work, sickness nervous because I had been hearing bad press about the event and mainly nervous because I had no idea what to expect.

I have to admit, cialis 40mg no matter how fashionable, arty and eco driven a festival is, a major emphasis has always been on being drunk and having a great, if somewhat crazy time… I couldn’t imagine myself getting wasted on ‘classic cocktails’ or ‘gin and tonics’, parading around campsites in my beloved vintage treasures and sleeping through bands in a dusty heap at Goodwood. Apparently that was exactly the crowd that organiser Wayne Hemingway was eager to discourage, not wanting those “out on the lash that leave a load of empty tins at their ripped tent”.

Goodwood was billed as ‘the first of what will be an annual music and fashion led celebration of creative British cool’ ‘The new festival of Britain’. But what was it? A vintage Fashion Fair? An exhibition? Or a festival? Featuring music, art, fashion, film and design I was puzzled as to how it would all come together.

None the less I was excited… I had packed a few of my 2nd favourite dresses (the dirt was still a worry!) far too many hats (and yes I carried them in a vintage hat box) and even two matching vintage parasols, for my friend and I to parade around with; in short, more than I would usually take on a week long holiday.

Upon arrival we were greeted by a red carpet and the famous British High Street. Made up like a spaghetti western, all wooden fronted shops, I felt like I had wandered onto a film set. The high street catered for the big brands: John Lewis, The Body Shop and Dr. Martins all had large stores with all the facilities of any other high street shop. It also was the home for the vintage cinema, a traditional British pub and even an Indian take away! The draw of the festival to many though – the vintage stalls – were down the two side streets in tents. These were much more bazaar-like in style; small cramped lines of tents exploding with clothes, accessories, and when it rained (which it did a lot) crammed in people unable to move.


Vintage shopping at Goodwood.

Bands such as The Faces, Buzzcocks, Heaven 17 and the Noisettes entertained the crowds but it was the fashion that was the main draw of the festival. Workshops taught sewing and knitting while Hardy Amies and Pearl and Daisy Lowe were among those with runway shows.


The Noisettes on the main stage.


Pearl and Daisy Lowe at their runway show.

Divided into eras, the festival celebrated five decades of British cool, with each area having a different ‘curator’ (supposed experts in that field).


The 1970s and 1980s zone curated by Greg Wilson featured a warehouse with interactive graffiti wall and a roller disco.

Also in the 1970s era was Eddie Miller’s Soul Casino nightclub – replicating a mid 70s ballroom and reminiscent of many a bad wedding reception, complete with 1970s swirly carpet, sprung dance floor, pool tables and low lighting – it was here that Wayne Hemingway performed his own DJ set on the Sunday.


Wayne Hemingway

The emphasis of the festival was definitely the 1940s and 1950s, however, with the majority of outfits being so themed and with one of the highlights being leading percussionist, producer and 1940s enthusiast Snowboy’s Tanqueray sponsored ‘Torch Club’: a 1940’s style supper club which served 3 course meals over the weekend, with waiter service and a full orchestra playing while you eat. Behind the club forties allotments and land girls held guess-the-weight-of-the-pumpkin competitions and the guys from The Chap held an Olympian event with cucumber sandwich tossing and tug-o-moustache.


Cucumber sandwich tossing at The Chap Olympiad


Moustache tug-o-war

Still in its first year, the festival organisers have room for improvement before next year’s. The website promised ‘an unparalleled attention to design and organisational detail’ which is a little optimistic considering the press pass debacle. Still, this was upheld in areas such as the attention to period detail in all shops and stages and that all events were first come first served and not fully booked up beforehand.
It’s possible the press pass debacle was a result of the PR company giving all 150 staff free weekend and camping tickets… of which apparently only 8 were used!

One stall holder also complained that they felt the festival had been miss-sold as they thought that the vintage stalls were going to be on the main high street not crammed into the side tents.

Whilst a lot of events over the weekend such as dance classes and the cinema were free, the main grumbles were still about the commercial emphasis of the festival, Bonham’s high profile auction, chain stores and a huge emphasis on shopping and spending money left a lot of people disgruntled, but apparently still willing to spend; Oxfam reportedly made £1000 in the first half hour of opening! Lily Allen‘s no-show to launch ‘Lucy in Disguise’ was probably a blessing in disguise as it prevented the focus of the weekend from being celebrity.

The ‘Glamping’ was on all accounts also seen to be a big disappointment. Situated at the bottom of the hill in the woods this area quickly became a muddy bog with the torrential rain and at £1200 for a tent with an airbed was seen as a complete rip off by many who didn’t even have hot showers. The same was true of the pods which had to move some people to tents due to complaints about size and not being able to stand up.


Glamorous campers.

For the regular campers, though, there were no problems. Many vintage tents, bunting strewn camps and campervans were on a chalk based slope which quickly drained and dressing rooms with full length mirrors and power points enabled everyone to dress up.


Dressing up rooms. Photography by Madeleine Lowry

…And dress up they did! Whilst the day trippers favoured fancy dress over true vintage and stuck to the high street, the weekend crowd were the highlight of the festival. A huge ego-boosting weekend, everyone went out of their way to compliment each other on their outfits and a general blitz spirit coupled with the friendly campsite and interactive nature of events ensured that everyone was quick to make new friends.

Overall the weekend offered an overwhelming range of activities to take part in or witness, and hopefully with the kinks ironed out before next year, things can only get better for Goodwood.



Fashion at Goodwood.


Shopping locally, abortion by Kayleigh Bluck

I have to honestly admit that I don’t really THINK about sustainability in my everyday life. I even recycle without thinking because it is such a natural process to me. You don’t consciously think about why you drink tea from a cup and not from a bowl or why you pee into the toilet and not into the basin.  
I think you’re only truly sustainable when it’s a part of your way of life, just like a diet is pointless unless you actually change your lifestyle and habits. In keeping with this, I came across a test with a perfectly relevant name: “My Habbit“. You can check out your own carbon footprint and you might be surprised at how easy it is to change really small habits. 

Whilst taking the test it visualises your carbon footprint in the form of a strange and creepy semi-alien computer-generated human body. Proportionally distorting a human’s body parts in order to visualise your disproportionate use, you work your way through the different stages of sustainability. For instance, if you use a lot of electricity, you head starts to look more and more like a skeleton. The more meat you eat, the fatter your belly gets. Electricity and gas expands your hands, travel expands your feet until it looks like an almost bursting balloon. Mine looked pretty normal at the end, but it still had suggestions for me to better myself. But how did I even come across this test? 

“So, a guy came into the office today to borrow some of our paper, which was recycled and said ‘So are you trying to save the world or summin?’ (sic) to which I wanted to start replying but by the time I said ‘Um..’ he said ‘Then stop driving!’ I obviously replied ‘I don’t drive’ and he said ‘Oh’ and walked off. What’s the dude hassling me for?” 
This is a snippet of a conversation I had during dinner today, where it transpired that me being a vegetarian and not having a car actually makes me “pretty green” according to a test my partner had taken during the workshop he held at the “Sustainable Futures” exhibition at the Design Museum. I was immediately intrigued. This may have been mainly due to the fact that I was fairly certain I was going to come out of the other end of the tunnel with a result to be proud of (aka something to show off about).  


Shopping locally for fabric, illustrated by Naomi Law

I already knew some of the reasons that were going to be to my advantage. I work from home, which means that in average, I use the underground only once a week for meetings or events in town. I have only travelled by plane once in the past year (last November, in fact), which is highly unusual and mainly down to the fact that work has happily consumed all my time. Either way, I knew it was going to make me look good in the test. I walk to the shops, and buy most of my food and fabric (I am a fashion designer) in the local market where things are mainly locally sourced. I’m very lazy when it comes to anything that is essential to life such as sleep, eating and washing. That’s only of advantage because I own a lot of clothes, which means I very rarely have to actually wash any of them. My washing machine is extremely underused.  

Furthermore, since we’re on the subject of big white goods, I don’t own a dishwasher or tumble dryer or any such machinery. I recycle everything from paper snippets to plastic to glass to fabric. I would say “tins” but I don’t really use them. As I mentioned before, most my food moves directly from the bowl of vegetables of the farmer’s table into my Longchamp shopping bag into my vegetable drawer. Another point that I knew was going to help me look good in this test was the fact that I’m a vegetarian. Apparently, that makes a difference although I’m still not quite sure why. Surely any food needs to be transported, worked on? Do feel free to enlighten me if you know. 

Returning to the subject of technical items, I don’t watch TV. I have a TV set for watching a DVD every now and then, but I usually prefer to work, and the TV is of course unplugged when I don’t use it because otherwise it makes a very annoying humming noise when it’s on standby. I unplug my printers, sewing machines, hair straighteners etc when I’m not using them.

People who don’t live with me would never believe it, but I’d rather look like a couch potato wearing three jackets (I’m at home, right?) than turn on the heating unnecessarily. In fact, the heating is completely switched off until the temperature drops below 10 degrees Celsius for more than a week, which doesn’t make me very popular with my housemates.  

We were given some free sustainable light bulbs when we last switched gas and electricity companies, which we use throughout the house and half of the fluorescent light bulbs we have in our office have burned out and we are too lazy to replace them.


Shopping for clothes, illustrated by Zarina Liew

This one is a big deal, but not a topic that gave me any extra credit during the test. About 80% of my wardrobe (including my shoes) is either second hand, vintage or passed on in some form or another through eBay, TK Maxx, in the form of presents from family and friends, inherited pieces, charity shops etc. This does not, however, mean that I don’t indulge my fashion sense, as a quick peek into the style section of my website will confirm. 

I don’t listen to the radio, I don’t have a CD player or stereo because I have all my music on my Mac and iPhone – who knew being this non-nostalgic about music, could turn into a blessing? 

We have an agreement with our landlord who sends round a gardener every two months. Officially, any carbon footprint they amass during their work is technically not mine, so I am not counting it. The grass is yellow from the few days of “heat” this lame English summer had, but I don’t really see that as my responsibility and as far as I can tell, I don’t think the gardeners ever water the grass – they simply cut it even shorter and dryer and pick up the leaves. 

Some of the questions in the test were difficult. For instance, I had to look up which type of light bulbs we actually use. They cleverly adjust the optimum “habit” you could have at the end and suggest ways in which you can better yourself, even if your carbon emission is as low as one could realistically imagine. 

However, there were aspects of importance that were not quite taken into consideration. A big issue, which could tip someone’s carbon print (especially among us fashionistas and fashionistos, eh?)  is our shopping and consumption habits beyond mere primary necessity (food). Do you buy online? Are your purchases shipped or flown from overseas or do you make sure buy locally? Do you shop in chain supermarkets or local markets? How much stuff do you own? Do you buy from Primark or second hand? Do you buy per trend and season or do you invest in pieces that you have worn for decades? Do you tend to consume actual objects such as electric equipment, decorative items, clothing or something altogether different? 


Using recycled paper, illustrated by Emma Block, using recycled paper!

There are also questions relating to your profession that are not taken into consideration at all. For instance, the test asks you whether you use a printer at home, but not whether you use a printer at work. How much paper do you use and waste, knowing you’re not paying for it? I’ll forgive them for not asking office-related questions, though, as this could get very detailed and complex. But what about mobile phones? No sign of their impact.

Having an iPhone, which I use for work, means I charge my phone up a lot more often than, say, someone who works in a shop and turns theirs off for most of the day. As anybody who owns an iPhone knows, as much as we love them – the battery of the iPhone is abysmal. It needs charging ALL the time. Surely the test should be asking about the different phones one has, the same way they asked about what type of TV I own? On the other hand, I charge my iPhone via my laptop – this means less electricity is used. You can see, the questions can be quite endless, but an essential acknowledgement of such basics would have improved the test. 
Many of my friends and colleagues are writers or need to write in some form or another. When you do your writing, do you do it online or offline? That sounds like it would make no difference, but it does. Here’s a good illustrating example, which has astounded quite a lot of people when I’ve mentioned it. 


Energy in the kitchen, illustrated by Gemma Randall

One of the questions in the questionnaire is how often you boil the kettle. Did you know that every time you do a search on google it uses as much electricity and power from the mighty google servers as it does to boil a full kettle? A question in the test, if I have had any say, should have been “Do you look up the tiniest question on google rather than trying to think that second longer in case you remember?” Do you maybe have a real life dictionary (oh wonder and glory), which can help you just as much? Yes, one should consider the production cost of making said book, but for the sake of the argument, let’s assume it’s a vintage book, which still holds perfectly updated descriptions of most words we know. If it doesn’t, you can STILL use Google, Wikipedia or an online dictionary. But not doing so would immediately reduce your carbon footprint more than you think… 

I am a great believer in the fact that until something is accepted as normal, it has not really been overcome. Until it is, the obstacle of integration is not complete. I feel this is the way with sustainability. I grew up with it, so it was quite strange for me to see what fuss people made about being sustainable – it was new to me. Once people embrace it as part of their lives, it will be a lot easier. You hear campaigns telling you to “be aware” and “do your part” as if most of these acts weren’t perfectly logical. I disagree. Sure, some people just don’t admit to perfectly basic knowledge being obvious, and need those hints and tips, and none of us are perfect and continue to be educated. However, the obsession of making recycling something to be conscious about is not going to help. Only once it’s truly and easily integrated into our lives in a manner that is natural to participate in will sustainability really be standard practice.

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