How technology has opened doors for emerging vegan fashion designers
Is the fashion industry starting to recognise its impact on the environment? This year’s iconic London Fashion Week revealed a growing need for sustainability in fashion.
Designer Vivienne Westwood displayed her latest collection emblazoned with anti-consumerist slogans, while fashion models shared global warming facts with the audience.
On average, we’re guilty of wearing a new piece of clothing only seven times before it’s left in the wardrobe, never to be worn again. Fortunately, it seems we’re gradually moving away from a throwaway culture focused on fast fashion, with the purchase of ethical and second-hand clothing on the rise in recent years.
Many of us now use platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to guide our shopping decisions, with social media having a direct influence on the popularity of fashion trends.
The need is there, now it’s for the young designers to step up. With the help of technology that is what they are doing.
For undiscovered ethical fashion designers, the internet can provide a wealth of opportunities. From sourcing ethical shoe manufacturers, connecting with potential retailers, or receiving much-needed exposure, with over 3.9 billion users online, it’s now easier than ever to gain the attention of others.
There is also a wealth of information about how to become a fashion designer. The information age has opened up new opportunities for designers to learn how to start their own ethical footwear or clothing line, without a degree.
For up and coming designers, here are a few of our favourite resources;
1. How To Start A Shoe Line, this guide, from the Italian Shoe Factory, a well known private label shoe manufacturer, pulls together a ton of very useful information for new designers. From the research phase all the way through to marketing + packaging.
2. The Business Of Fashion, this blog is well worth reading, bookmarking and regularly coming back to. As a fashion designer you'll need to keep up with current industry trends and this is the blog to follow.
3. How To Start A Clothing Line , we like this post from A Better Lemonade Stand, it pulls together a lot of content about how to start a clothing line which gives a great starter and outline for new designers.
Whether it’s sourcing rubber from the Amazon, salvaging old denim or using repurposed nylon fishing nets, here are three emerging young designers who, with the help of technology, are paving the way for mainstream sustainable fashion.
Fashion Designer Spotlight: Sébastien Kopp and François-Ghislain Morillion
French fashion brand Veja who have celebrity clients like Meghan Markle, are leading the way in sustainable sneaker design. Sebastian Kopp & Francois-Ghislain Morillion visited developing countries whilst they were running their previous business, a not-for-profit.
It struck them that the process of producing the products that end up on our shelves is damaging the environment and often involves unethical practices and low levels of social responsibility. In their own words, the journey to developing the fashion brand, Veja was “to rethink the creation of a popular product”.
The pair sourced the rubber from tappers in the Amazon instead of using synthetic material. And used ecologically grown cotton which actually improves the soil rather than takes away from it.
Brands like Veja are able to exist because they know have access to the infrastructure to source the right suppliers, find the best designers and reach a global audience.
Fashion Designer Spotlight: Marine Serre
French-born Marine Serre is a 27-year-old fashion designer currently living in Paris. After gaining experience from internships with renowned fashion companies including Alexander McQueen and Dior, Marine won the 2017 LVMH Prize for young designers.
Soon after winning the prize, her small collection of designs impressed the buying director of MatchesFashion.com, a global luxury fashion retailer. After the collection launched online, almost 50% of the pieces sold out. The success of this online venture gave her the confidence and exposure to develop her own sustainable label.
Concerned about the environmental impact of the current fashion environment, Marine Serre uses recycled materials to create her designs - a method often referred to as ‘upcycling’.
Examples of Marine Serre’s upcycling include using end-of-life denim to craft brand new jeans with a new lease of life, and vintage silk scarves are sewn together to create luxurious, one-of-a-kind dresses. She refuses to use new leather, instead opting for used leather jackets to transform into new pieces.
Marine Serre actively uses Instagram to promote her latest designs and features to over 140,000 followers. Featuring bright colours and distinctive patterns, her clothing has gained popularity with influential celebrities including Beyoncé and Bella Hadid.
Fashion Designer Spotlight : Elliss Solomon
Organic cotton, recycled polyester and bamboo are just a few of the eco-friendly materials wielded by young fashion designer, Elliss Solomon. Her fashion label, Elliss, was founded in 2016 with the intention of creating cutting-edge, contemporary and most importantly - environmentally conscious clothing.
After graduating with a womenswear fashion design degree at Central St Martins in London, Elliss Solomon combined her fashion expertise and concern for ethical issues to create Elliss. Every piece of clothing is designed and manufactured in the same London building, reducing the carbon footprint of the production process.
One of the most innovative pieces from Elliss is the regenerated nylon swimsuit, made from fishing nets recovered from the ocean. With their bold prints, these swimsuits possess a unique style, while also helping to reduce the number of nets which clog the ocean and pose a deadly threat to marine life.
Being online has allowed Elliss the opportunity to select and work with sustainable suppliers and stockists across the world, including Italian supplier ECONYL, who provides the regenerated nylon for her swimsuit collection. Additionally, having an online store means that her clothing can be purchased from anywhere in the world, providing Elliss with a much larger customer base.
Elliss is also conscious of the impacts of animal agriculture, avoiding the use of fur and leather-based products. The only animal-derived material occasionally found in her clothing is wool, which is provided by a supplier with rescued sheep.
Elliss wants to create a label that does not exclusively market itself as an eco-friendly brand. Instead, she wants to design quality, universal clothing that even those unconcerned about environmental issues will opt for, potentially influencing them to change their clothing habits further down the line - a term she refers to as ‘unconscious clothing’.
So often technology is referenced in a damaging light, but it also opens doors for huge innovation & opportunities for us to better protect the planet. Why not forward this post on to a budding designer who might need a bit of inspiration.