Often brands that appropriate the term fair trade aren’t exactly associated with products that scream luxury, in the third part of our i-Sustain series we’re putting that negative cliché to bed.
Olga Olsson, the brainchild of designer Ruth Ferguson, makes the most luxurious and tactile swim and beach wear, all produced in a Rio based atelier that employs women from marginalised local communities; the women are paid a proper living wage, offered permanent employment with their rights respected and provided with healthy working conditions. Ruth is happy to acknowledge that it’s the skills of these women, as much as her own design input that ensures the quality and desirability of the product. Of course Olga Olsson represents the vision of an individual designer but it also represents the potential future prosperity of a community. Now come on, that’s got to make you feel good when you’re strutting your stuff on the Copacabana. i-D online caught-up with Ruth Ferguson to talk Olga Olsson.
Why do you think you’re part of our i-Sustain project? Because I’m a dreamer and I put my money where my mouth is… beauty and ethics are not mutually exclusive in fashion.
Do you have a philosophy? Keep it simple.
What/who inspires you to design and make fashion? I’m forever inspired by all kinds of light; the morning, the evening, the stars; travelling to different places; sleeping under canvas; music; rough and smooth textures; people – mainly girls but the odd guy catches my eye! Everything and anything. Inspiration is pretty much infinite…
What makes you want to put down your tools and walk away? The call of the open road.
What could you do better? Specifically, I could be more focused. I tend to get distracted by the myriad of things I’m working on/ interested in too easily. Maybe that’s part of being the popcorn generation – always having ten different windows open on your computer, and your phone on, and the music on. Sometimes it’s good to switch everything off and write a list.
Where can we buy it? Harvey Nichols, from November.
What are you working on now? At the very beginning stages of creating beautiful travel accessories for boys and girls in organic chrome free tanned leather.
What would you take to the streets and protest about? I don’t think taking to the streets is the best form of protest; it could be, or it could be making a film or making a song (or making a bikini…) but you can’t just do that and expect immediate change, otherwise you get disillusioned. There’s a song called ‘sueño con serpientes’ by Silvio Rodríguez that begins with a quote from Bertolt Brecht – it sounds better in Spanish, more beautiful, less worthy, but here it is:
There are men who struggle for a day and they are good.
There are men who struggle for a year and they are better.
There are men who struggle many years, and they are better still.
But there are those who struggle all their lives:
These are the indispensable ones.
Head here to read more, much more galore from our i-Sustain series.