This is the second in a 12-part series called i-sustain (see the first here) intended to change the way you think, buy, wear and discuss fashion. It should really be called we-sustain, firstly because it’s a collaboration between i-D and the Centre for Sustainable Fashion but more importantly because it’s all about how individuality and self expression can co-exist with a collective conscience.
Left: Fenn wears shirt, trousers and jacket Arn Mercantile.
Right: Fenn wears shirt and trousers Arn Mercantile. Belt Beyond Retro. Shoes Grenson. Paige wears dress Partimi. Shoes Beyond Retro.
The concept of applying a collective set of values that look beyond aesthetic concerns, seems to be an unacceptable limitation but who made the rule that brilliance can’t thrive within boundaries. Adhering to the slavish belief that creativity has to be spontaneous and unconfined leaves us with what; a message on a t-shirt, a film about climate change, a photograph with impoverished children in Africa, all worthwhile endeavours but safely contained in a box marked ethics and as for the rest, it’s business as usual?
i-Sustain celebrates the people who take the plunge into the rapidly warming waters of the future and put their money and their creativity where their mouth is. Whilst we like to steer clear of preaching, there are some unavoidable facts that need to be acknowledged. Around 3 million people a year are poisoned by pesticides with about 20,000 of those poisonings resulting in death. Around 25% of the world’s pesticides are used on cotton; you do the maths. If that wasn’t enough to make you stop and think then just to drive the point home, some 200,000 cotton farmers a year commit suicide which is attributed to spiralling debts related to the costs of buying pesticides and GM seeds and the low return they get for their crops. So that’s the human cost. The cost to biodiversity and wildlife is unquantifiable!
Left: Trousers and coat Partimi. Belt and shoes Beyond Retro. Scarf Silver Flint.
Right: Coat and trousers Arn Mercantile. Belt Stighlorgan. Jumper L’herbe rouge. Shoes Grenson.
This month we’re giving a shout out to the designers who keep it natural and organic; Katharine Hamnett led the charge and now there is a new generation making this approach an inherent part of their practice. Partimi by Eleanor Dorrien Smith and ARN Mercantile by Neil Christopher are both brands with a simple clean design aesthetic, based on quality and heritage. Having an eye to the environment in the design process, in this case through the choice of organic fabrics, is just the first step in creating clothes that express both where we are now and what we want the future to be. Like every other great buy, their clothes will come to represent far more than the sum of their parts, containing memories, moments and imprints of experiences; a unique emotional patina that’s a secret shared between you and the garment. We’d like to think that secret is all the more special because it began from making a better choice.
Left: Paige wears dress Partimi. Fenn wears shirt and trousers Arn Mercantile. Rucksack Stighlorgan.
Right: Paige wears shirt and trousers Partimi. Jumper, bag and shoes Beyond Retro. Fenn wears trousers waistcoat and jacket Arn Mercantile. Shoes Grenson.
Here, Partimi designer Eleanor Dorrien Smith talks through her sustainable ethos.
Why do you think you’re part of this project? Design and sustainability have been running side by side in my work since starting PARTIMI and I think my approach in marrying the two has brought me here.
Do you have a philosophy? My philosophy comes from the stem of my brand name, parti – a term used in architecture referring to the conceptual starting point of a design and the thread that runs through from first ideas to product. I like things simple and direct – I always derive inspiration from my own surroundings, I want to create striking yet uncontrived designs and I want to use materials and processes that challenge tired methods. Repeating the parti mantra to myself helps me stay on this track.
What/who inspires you to design and make fashion? I’m fascinated by patterns and textures and am always spotting new print ideas. Researching new fabric possibilities is also incredibly inspiring – I like a good bit of problem solving.
What makes you want to put down your tools and walk away? Getting homesick for coastline…
What’s unique about your work? Lightness and ease – I like gentleness.
What could you do better? Everything.
Where can we buy it? 69b Broadway Market, Rous Iland on Dover Street, YoungBritishDesigners.com
What are you working on now? S/S 2012. Really excited about this one – I’m getting submerged in childhood memories by the sea and Swallows and Amazons.
What would you take to the streets and protest about? Fair quotas for local fishing industries and increasing marine reserves.
Styling Sam Willoughby
Re-touching Russell Day @ Daybreak Creative
Hair Deborah Brider using Shu Uemura art of hair
Make up Julie Jacobs using Givenchy
Models Fenn @ Models1 and Paige @ Next
Photographers Assistant Jonathan Leigh
Styling Assistant Sarah Munro
Head here to read more, much more galore from our i-Sustain series.