The third in a 12-part series intended to change the way you buy and wear fashion. This month we feature ethical luxury swimwear designer Ruth Ferguson.
In the late 1990s Naomi Klein wrote the seminal tome No Logo, which charted the rise and rise of the super brand and underlined the web of aggressive marketing woven around us in modern consumer society. The book centred around four key themes “no space”, “no choice”, “no jobs” and “no logo” and was one of the first times that the production and marketing practices of multinational brands were starkly called into question; it marked a shift as the concept of ethics in fashion began to enter our collective conscious.
Left: Ursula wears bikini Olga Olsson. Gown Stamo.
Right: JJ wears cream cap Marni. Ursula wears pink cap Beyond Retro.
More than ten years have passed since No Logo hit the shelves and yet we still hear regular horror stories about the conditions in which our clothes are made and the treatment of the people making them; so what is going wrong?
JJ wears swimsuit by Agnes Valentine. Ursula wears bikini by Olga Olsson.
We’re not foolish enough to think that in a few hundred words it’s possible to shed light on the ethical black hole from which the ‘democratically’ priced fashion we crave emerges but one thing is for sure, as long as we keep demanding it faster and cheaper that hole is going to get deeper.
Left: JJ wears swimsuit Beyond Retro. Gown Stamo.
Right: Ursula wears bikini Agnes Valentine and cap Beyond Retro. JJ wears bikini and cap Beyond Retro
Part of the problem is that the people and processes involved in the regular replenishment of our heaving wardrobes, have in the main been made deliberately invisible to us; this is probably because if we truly understood the skill, time and effort that goes into making many of the things we wear, we would come to our senses and realise that the prices we expect to pay are totally unrealistic and distorted. Suffice to say when it comes to clothing we buy considerably more and spend considerably less than we did thirty years ago and yet the cost of raw materials is at an all time high, so who is losing out?
JJ wears swimsuit Agnes Valentine. Pink cape Stamo. Ursula wears swimsuit Beyond Retro. Red cape Stamo.
In the third instalment of the series, i-Sustain asks you to branch out and use your buying power to give some proper recognition to the designers and brands who re-connect us with the maker; those who practice ‘fair trade’, respecting and even celebrating the skilled people they collaborate with, to bring us a great product.
Left: Ursula wears yellow and white swimsuit Beyond Retro. JJ wears orange swimsuit Agnes Valentine.
Right: JJ wears bikini Olga Olsson. Ursula wears swimsuit Olga Olsson.
Often brands that appropriate the term fair trade aren’t exactly associated with products that scream luxury, so this month 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… Read tonnes more about Olga Olsson (including an interview with Ruth) right here, right now!
Styling: Sam Willoughby
Re-touching: Russell Day @ Daybreak Creative
Hair: Eamonn Hughes @ Premier Hair & Makeup using Kiehls stylist series
Make up: Veronica Martinez using Shiseido
Models: Ursula @ FM and JJ @ Premier
Photographer’s Assistant: Jonathan Leigh
Styling Assistant: Samantha Williams
Head here to read more, much more galore from our i-Sustain series.