Brand watch: onbl

Founded in 2017, Owe Nothing But Love is already making moves in the fashion industry. As a young creative, Faisal is constantly learning to navigate such a challenging industry, but his determination and the talented team behind the brand are paving the way to a very a successful business. Supporting small businesses in this uncertain time is so important, so I sent Faisal some questions to find about more about ONBL’s latest relaunch.

How did ONBL start?

My brother, Tola, founded ONBL in 2017. He could no longer do it so I took it into my own hands and relaunched it as creative director and designer. Tola is in charge of the marketing aspect, whilst I work on the designing team with my girlfriend, Debbie.

When did you know you wanted to relaunch, and what was the inspiration behind it?

After a brief hiatus, I decided it was time to relaunch. My inspiration comes from the bible scripture Romans 13:8: ‘Owe no man anything, but to love one another.’ This scripture encapsulated everything I believe in. It highlights what humanity should be, [and] it communicates that loving one another is what you should do above all else. We wanted to spread that message of unconditional love through our minimalistic designs.

What challenges have you faced as a young entrepreneur in the fashion industry?

If I am being totally honest, one of the biggest challenges when relaunching has been finances. Given that I was fired during a pandemic, keeping finances up to support a business was extremely difficult. When the world was so unsure what the future would look like, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel was proving difficult at times. I had to learn to be patient and it was through this that I learnt the real meaning of trusting in God and His timing.

What is it like navigating such a challenging space?

It’s been difficult at times, but no less difficult than expected. Coming from a background with no experience in the fashion industry, it meant I made many mistakes. These mistakes often cost money and time, but I knew it was needed. However, it was exciting because I could feel myself growing and progressing as I learnt new things – and I am still learning.

What was the idea behind the relaunch promo video?

I wanted the promo video to be an accurate representation and introduction to the brand and what it’s about. We sample a great piece about love from the words of Kendrick Lamar, [which] immediately exhibits the ethos of our brand.

We’re living in such uncertain times, and it’s so important to support small businesses. How important is it to invest in small and black-owned businesses?

I think people often forget that big businesses were once small businesses. With the exception of hard work and dedication, they grow from engagement and support of others and I feel like that’s what we should do for one another.

Being a young black man from Peckham, I grew up in the midst of many black businesses and that has definitely had an influence on my love for the community. The way I see it is every industry is already challenging, why make it more challenging for a community that has already been put as a disadvantage by not supporting them?

What’s next for ONBL?

More love and more clothes man! We want to release more pieces, completing our A/W collection. In the near future, we’re looking to start some outreach programmes, connecting with charities that we’d love to support.

Socials:

Website: ONBL

Instagram: @owenothingbutlove

Twitter: @onblofficial

Thank you Faisal for answering my questions and I’m looking forward to seeing ONBL thrive!

S x

Let’s talk about Fatphobia

In an industry that prides itself on inclusivity and equality, why are plus sized people still being excluded? The lack of accessibility means plus sized people have no choice but to shop fast fashion. Sustainability isn’t only about environmental impact, but it’s about creating an accessible space for all.

On average, a woman’s dress size changes 31 times during adulthood. This is due to various factors including pregnancy, illness, and hormones. For a long time plus sized people have been excluded in the mainstream fashion industry, so why are we continuing this exclusion as the industry makes shifts to becoming more sustainable?

Plus size models are rarely used in media campaigns, but when they are it is often tokenistic. Body positivity activist and poet, Jade Elouise says “from personal experience, I think the way plus size models are treated on shoots is often with contempt and lack of consideration. I have been on shoots [that] didn’t have my size, leaving me with frumpy outfits or having to squeeze into garments that were too small.” This is a common story in the industry, with plus size brands not catering for 18+.

Jade Elouise, body positivity activist and poet

In an industry that doesn’t cater for plus sizes, it’s not a surprise that shopping second hand is near impossible for plus sized people. Vintage stores often only stock straight sizes, so turning to online shopping is the only viable option. However when plus sizes are available, the choice is limited. Jade thinks this lack of choice most accurately depicts the fatphobia within the industry; “clothes are limited in design, they are of a poorer quality, and many brands don’t go past a size 20, [claiming] it’s because the clothing costs more to make, yet they are happy to make oversized clothing in straight sizes.

There are sustainable brands like Kai Collective and Plus Equals, and pages on social media for second hand plus sized clothes, but for the most part plus sizes are still excluded in mainstream and most sustainable brands. One topic that came up with Jade was the ‘oversized’ trend. Some have an issue with this trend but Jade says this is a nuanced conversation. “Fashion should be fun and a way to express yourself, so it is difficult to ask people to limit themselves by only shopping to one set size.”

However, taking into consideration how your shopping habits affect others is vitally important. “People buying clothing in plus sizes to cut it down to size for themselves not only wastes materials in offcuts, but it completely removes that garment as an option for plus size people in the future. Someone wearing a plus sized garment as oversized and putting it back into circulation through donation or selling” is far better than cutting and reshaping a plus sized garment.

As we move into a more sustainable and circular fashion industry, inclusivity needs to be a priority. The ongoing fatphobia prevents progression; you can’t have sustainability without inclusivity. Sustainable brands and straight sized allies need to push for change to spark real change.

S x

Jade’s Socials:

Instagram: @bodiposipoet

Why are supply chains so hard to police?

In the UK, there are laws and regulations in place to prevent inequality within the supply chain. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 states that ‘every organisation carrying a business in the UK with an annual turnover of £36m must produce a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation.’

But, these reports do not have to guarantee that the supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking, rather they have to state what the organisation is doing to help put a stop to modern slavery in their supply chains. Bigger organisations tend to move to different factories internationally depending on the cheapest manufacturers, therefore it is almost impossible to police these supply chains. These organisations can create false audits and use loopholes to make it seem like there is no modern slavery within their supply chain when they actually have no idea. The Modern Slavery Act also only covers issues like slavery and forced labour, but other exploitative issues like underpayment and poor working conditions aren’t taken into account.

It’s clear that the UK employment and modern slavery laws aren’t up-to-date with the extent of supply chains used by fast fashion brands. This makes policing virtually impossible for governments as well as confusing workers who don’t understand their rights as employees.

After the Rana Plaza disaster in 2012, fashion brands promised to ensure that their supply chains were free from inequality. Previous regulations weren’t protecting workers and research has shown that there has been little to no improvement in supply chains despite newer regulations and promises made by big corporations. Cornell University’s latest research (as seen below) showed that brands, suppliers, unions, and governments didn’t know what to do to improve supply chains. They looked at the private and public regulation systems needed to improve supply chains, and found that in two countries, more than half of the 31,652 factory audits were falsified or unreliable.

The lack of effort to look into supply chains means that consumers aren’t aware of the inequality it took to produce their garments. Big corporations need to invest in innovative systems in order to effectively see the exploitation within their global supply chains. But, they won’t. Fashion can’t afford to wait around for consumers demand for sustainability to increase, they have to act now.

The coronavirus pandemic has massively affected the fashion industry, and worldwide recessions may deter corporations from investing in sustainability even more. Which is why it is so important that we have these conversations and continue to fight against the exploitation happening every day across the globe.

S x

Sources:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transparency-in-supply-chains-a-practical-guide/transparency-in-supply-chains-a-practical-guide#:~:text=2.2%20The%20provision%20in%20the,financial%20year%20of%20the%20organisation.

Is sustainability a privilege?

Sustainability as a privilege is a conversation that has been prevalent on social media in the last few weeks. With more people discussing fast fashion, in particular Boohoo’s recent scandal, the debate surrounding who should be making a change has been called into question.

In short, yes, sustainability is a privilege. Ultimately, it is the big corporations and businesses that need to change in order to make a big impact on the world. However, as individuals, we can do our bit to shift society’s attitudes towards fashion and sustainability and address its huge inequality.

One quote comes to mind when discussing sustainability as a privilege; ‘we don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need millions doing it imperfectly.’ If you have the choice to shop sustainably, then we should be doing so. That is the key word – choice.

Being able to shop at sustainable stores, go to second-hand shops, and take time to research about sustainable options is a privilege. Recognising that it is a privilege and using your privilege to spread awareness is a step towards dismantling the unequal system, making sustainable fashion more accessible.

There are millions of people in the UK that have no choice but to shop at fast fashion retailers, and no choice but to shop at second-hand shops. Thrifting’s popularity has increased massively over the past few years, but it can be argued that this is the cause of the increase of prices.

It isn’t marginalised groups that have no choice shopping at fast fashion stores that are at fault. Statistics show that it is the poorest groups that have the smallest environmental impact, yet it is them impacted the most. Marginalised groups have been living sustainably for years – the clothes they buy from fast fashion stores aren’t thrown away after a few wears – they are kept, used, and upcycled when needed. 

We need to be focusing on businesses, corporations, and those in power who are in the position to make bigger impacts on the sustainable industry. But, as a person with the privilege to shop at sustainable shops and the privilege of having the platform to write about sustainability, I will make sure that I make steps towards making my personal life more sustainable.

At the Copenhagen Summit 2019, they discussed sustainability’s link to privilege. They said:

Serving consumer desires for newness in the form of fast fashion is not the problem. The problem is the unsustainable nature of the materials and processes used and the net effect on the planet. So the message seems to be that fighting biological urges is a folly while pursuing sustainable solutions central to the creation of fashion is what is urgently needed.

Sustainability is biggest in the luxury fashion industry, so already there is a large number of people excluded and unable to access sustainable fashion. This is unfair. Sustainable fashion needs to be accessible to all, and this ties back to privilege. If you can, do.

S x

Togoterre: embracing underestimation

June 2020. Six years in the making. Togoterre was first conceived as a way to express passion for Togolese heritage. Its founder, Josh, says Togoterre is something that is long overdue.

I am delighted to share Togoterre and knowing Josh through school and University, it’s an honour to talk to him about his journey, heritage, and passion.

During his early teenage years, Josh ‘always wanted to know more about [Togo’s] heritage and its history. This manifested itself into taking a liking for goods shipped from Togo, particularly [the] designs of clothing and fitments. Whether it be the shorts and top clothing set with Togolese design, to small ornaments that [he] could keep on [his] desk, anything made in Togo [he] took an interest in.’

Bag

AKPÈTÈ

Rucksack

SOUKOULOU

Togoterre has many meanings, but its core is about embracing culture and heritage. The country of Togo, located in West Africa, ‘is relatively unheard of. It’s one of the narrowest [countries] in the world, but much like the rest of Africa, it seems to be on the periphery of society.’ Togoterre teaches to embrace underestimation whilst highlighting the ‘talent, beauty, and lifestyle’ that Togo has to offer.

Togo’s Fimo228 festival showcased and celebrated the variety of African culture, and its capital, Lomé, is becoming the fashion capital of Africa. Togoterre brings this culture to the UK, celebrating its beauty through its handbags, accessories, and in the future, its clothes and fitments.

‘It’s about being appreciative of other’s way of life, as one person’s view of a minority is that said person’s majority.’

The eclectic mix of cultures makes Africa’s fashion very diverse. West African clothing in particular has distinct styles because of its long-established weaving, printing, and dyeing practices. Togo’s Fimo228 shows the modernisation of traditional West African clothing; keeping the colour and prints but making them more westernised, rather than traditional styles like dashiki.

Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are one of the top destinations for the import of used/second-hand clothing. Whilst there are some positive impacts of this, there are big negatives. Some countries have banned the importation of used clothing due to the excessive amounts coming in. Importation also affects local producers and traditional clothing styles. It can be said that second hand clothes are replacing African textiles in some countries, and some see this as a loss of culture.

Togoterre uses West African styles and celebrates them, sometimes combining the traditional with western but never forgetting the colour, design, and textiles that make up Togo’s diverse fashion. It’s vitally important to continue to celebrate traditional clothing, as it not only preserves cultural heritage, but it unites people.

red fan

PAPAVI

This importance of heritage is seen within Togoterre and emanated through Josh’s words. Taking an interest in your heritage, ‘expressing it through creative means, whether it be fashion, music, [or] theatre’ is a way of understanding and appreciating. It’s clear that Togoterre is inspired by Togo itself, but familial influence played a big part – ‘without my heritage, I would not be as appreciative as I am.’

The brand launched on June 30th, and its biggest challenge currently is growth. But Josh says, ‘that is where the passion and perseverance has got to come in. I have to keep striving to get my brand out there.’ As well as brand growth, sourcing is a challenge but a rewarding one, ‘as it is not currently feasible to personally source the goods and materials, I rely on technology to keep in contact with family members who can relay findings and potentials.’ Picking the right designs is vital, and the plethora of materials and designs make these choices even harder. In the future, Togoterre is hoping to design goods that suit their wants and specificity – it’s an exciting prospect.

sports bag

FOURRE-TOUT

Its logo, a hippo, represents Africa, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa. The hippo ‘resonates in that it’s underestimated in its capabilities considering there is such a variety of species, and its notability of the Big Five animals.’

The passion that pours out of Josh and Togoterre shines through the pieces. It’s inspiring to see a brand committed to uplifting others. I’ll leave you with this quote from Togoterre’s website:

‘We are all about not letting the negative sentiments of others stifle your capabilities. At Togoterre, we embrace underestimation.’

Thank you to Josh and Togoterre for sharing their journey, and I’m looking forward to watching you thrive and grow.

Website: https://www.togoterre.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/togoterre/

S x

Sofia’s Connection: Ethical Jewellery

Ethical jewellery isn’t just about using recycled and sustainable materials. It’s about the care, craft, and creativity put into each piece by those sourcing, supplying, designing, and making.

Sofia is one of these people. I had the pleasure of asking her some questions about her brand, SofiasConnection, and what it takes to have your own ethical jewellery business.

textured cuffs

Hammered Silver Cuff Bracelet

Sofia started the brand when she realised she wasn’t living a life authentic to herself; ‘I had done academic degrees, was approaching my 30’s, and was completely dissatisfied. I questioned everything and began to dig deeper and figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, [and] where my passions lie.’

Despite being a creative individual, she was often deterred from pursuing creative pathways, in particular graphic and fashion design, being told to pursue something “more serious.” A few years ago, she ‘took a leap of faith and decided to learn the craft of silversmithing, something [she] always wanted to do, but never allowed [herself] to.’

Her creative nature and drive meant she threw herself into learning a craft that requires patience and intricacy, but it wasn’t until 2018 that she decided to create a brand and business from it. She describes SofiasConnection as ‘classic, an ethnic fusion, conscious, sustainable, and wild woman spirited.’ From her cuffs, necklaces, and rings, you can see just that.

Bracelet, necklace, and earrings

Hathor Ear Jackets, Hathor Tourmaline Cuff, Lozen Cuff Bracelet, and Collarette Collection

There are always challenges when starting your own business, let alone a sustainable brand. Finding sustainable materials is difficult, and this is one of the biggest challenges Sofia has faced. ‘I want something completely zero waste, but with the standard of my pieces, I have to have suitable protection in the boxes. Currently, the only option for this [are] foam inserts, which unfortunately, are not zero waste. I am actually still trying to find another option and [I’m] in conversation with somebody about creating a better option to bring to the market.’

Sourcing sustainable materials can be quite limiting, ‘I use precious materials only, and not all options required for custom pieces have been [made] available in this way. I also haven’t found a supplier for recycled Argentium silver yet (hypoallergenic silver).’ Despite not yet being able to find a supplier, Argentium silver is kinder to the environment than sterling silver, as less chemicals are used in its process.

Sustainable value is really important, and any obstacles haven’t hindered Sofia in her mission to produce high quality, ethical jewellery. Not only do her suppliers have recycled options, but Sofia’s ‘Maya Collection’ was inspired from her wanting to make use of scrap metal leftovers – ‘all the pieces have been largely made from melted down silver or gold that I’ve refashioned into the pieces of this collection.’

Maya Collection rings

Maya Collection Gold and Chunky Silver Ring

Maya Collection necklace

Maya Collection Pendant Necklace

When it comes to diamond mining and trading, there are lot of detrimental social and environmental impacts. Most notably, the children forced into mining. Other detrimental impacts include physical and sexual abuse, poor working conditions, as well as soil erosion, deforestation, and the destruction of ecosystems.

SofiasConnection uses lab grown diamonds due to the state of the mining and trading industry. Her supplier in Antwerp cultivates stones in a lab, and ‘the natural environment in which crystallised carbon in diamond cubic form grows, is simulated. So, you get the same gorgeous stones, with the exact same physical properties, same luxurious sparkle, without harming the earth.’

At first, she was sceptical. But she ‘compared them with cubic zirconia (synthetic stones) and they are far superior, and identical to natural diamond. They are slightly cheaper, but not by that much, [which] gives you a sense of their superb quality.’

Maya collection blak rigns

Black and Gold open Maya Ring with a 3 Stone Diamond Stacker

The production happens in her garden studio. Silversmithing involves toxic chemicals to remove any tarnishing, so Sofia has been experimenting with a natural solution – vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.

Two years after starting her brand, SofiasConnection is now nearly 100% circular in its production. She says ‘I’m constantly learning though, and always trying to improve, whether in my work or private life. Suppliers has sent things wrapped in a whole load of plastic which is frustrating, but I never fail to give them a piece of [my] mind. The biggest supplier now uses paper or biodegradable plastic because of customer complaints.’

‘Individuals really can make a difference, and it is so great to see the sustainable fashion trend going mainstream.’

Her newest collection, the Collarette Collection, was developed due to the lack of ready-made recycled chains for pendants. ‘I had the idea for the collarettes as neck jewellery because I can make them from 100% recycled materials.’ Most of this collection is available on the website now.

SofiasConnection works mainly on a made to order basis, apart from a few items that are in stock on her website. In September, Sofia will be reopening made to order as she is on a well-earned break. But her website still has some items in stock.

Thank you to Sofia for answering my questions and opening my eyes to the world of ethical jewellery. SofiasConnection is proof that you can create high-quality, gorgeous pieces whilst being mindful of the environment.

Website: https://www.sofiasconnection.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sofiasconnection/?hl=en

S x

 

What is Greenwashing?

What is greenwashing?

Brands capitalising on ethically sounding pieces due to the demand in sustainable products is greenwashing. It’s a marketing technique taking advantage of the growing popularity of sustainable/ethical products, and using this to increase sales without  actually being sustainable or fulfilling their claims.

H&M sustainable summer dress range 

Three days ago, Grazia reported that H&M’s new range of sustainable summer dresses is already set to be a summer sell-out. Although a sustainable range may seem like progress, it is in fact just performative.

I was happy to see that the comments on Grazia’s post were full of people calling out H&M for its greenwashing. This range is a prime example of using buzz words like ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ to lure people into buying things they believe are environmentally friendly. But, we have to remember that brands with ‘conscious/ethical’ lines are still fast fashion, and this ‘awareness’ is not carried across to their other lines.

Sustainability isn’t just about recycled products, it’s multi-faceted and involves the whole supply chain (manufacturers, suppliers, distributors). Selling a ‘sustainable’ dress for £20 immediately brings into question who has made the garment, how much they are getting paid, and where exactly the materials are sourced from. Promoting a range solely as ethical because of recycled materials is false and misleading.

Other fast fashion brands like Pretty Little Thing, Primark, Zara, and Topshop have ‘conscious’ clothing lines, jumping on a bandwagon to appear like they care. But, the profits from these ‘sustainable’ lines goes straight into a business filled with unequal and environment-destroying practices.

Good On You

This app is great if you want to find out which brands are sustainable. The app gives overall ratings to each brand, as well as ratings for labour, environment, and animal. They give a detailed analysis and offer alternatives if you’re looking for something more sustainable. It launched in Europe in June 2018, but it is improving its system constantly, providing up-to-date information. I really recommend this app, it has made my sustainable journey a lot easier!

I wanted to show you how the app operates and thought I’d take a look at H&M and Topshop:

Greenwashing is easy to spot. Take a look at the brand’s transparency, accountability, whether they have a range of sustainable lines rather than a single one, do they use buzzwords or do they provide evidence supporting their claims, and look out for any certifications that prove that they are sustainable!

S x

The exploitative nature of fast fashion

I came across this post on Instagram posted by @theniftythrifter_, highlighting the exploitation of black people and people of colour in the garment industry. In 2018, it was reported that garment workers in Leicester, UK were being paid below minimum wage. The article explained that Leicester’s garment industry is detached from the UK’s employment law. You can read the full report here.

View this post on Instagram

if this could be happening just 2 years ago – right under our noses – who knows how garment workers are being treated across the globe where the minimum wages can be as low as £25 a month in Bangladesh. ⁣ Fast fashion exploits Black, Indigenous, People of Colour throughout the entirety of the industry and now is the time we need to rise up and hold these brands accountable. I encourage others to call those brands out on their behaviours. ⁣ ⁣ SOURCES ⁣ ‘Dark factories: labour exploration in Britain’s garment industry’ FINANCIAL TIMES⁣ ‘In just four days, top fashion CEOS earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay’ QUARTZ⁣ ⁣ #boycottboohoo EDIT: it’s important to say that boohoo don’t pay their workers directly – however by pushing down prices it makes it impossible for factory workers to be able to pay workers fair wages. They should be accepting accountability when they are profiting millions. ANOTHER EDIT: I realise this isn’t just Boohoo! I didn’t expect this post in particular to blow up like it has. This is systemic throughout the whole fashion industry. It’s bigger than just this post. Follow my page for more information. There’s ample information online about the mistreatment of workers throughout the entire industry. TYPE ‘Rana Plaza disaster 2013’ INTO GOOGLE and go from there. ANOTHER EDIT: I am not targeting this post at people who literally can’t afford anything else but fast fashion. I realise having the time and money to shop more sustainably is a privilege ANOTHER EDIT: PLEASE DON’T BRING THE JOBS ARGUMENT INTO THIS CONVERSATION. We never ever hear about billionaires using their own money to give back to industries that made them rich in the first place. The belief that places in the global south can’t create and sustain their own economies without western intervention is rooted in colonialism and is egotistical. These companies aren’t providing jobs – it’s EXPLOITATION. People don’t care about jobs because if they did they wouldn’t be billionaires and would redistribute their wealth. I find this a useful tactic for people to shut down convo and it can be frustrating. Hold these billionaires accountable first.

A post shared by Becky 🦋 (@theniftythrifter_) on

At the time of publication, the UK minimum wage was £7.83 per hour for people 25 and over (as of April 2020 it’s £8.72). Workers in Leicester were being paid as little as £3.50 per hour. The report revealed that as well as low pay, workers were not granted holiday or sick pay, had to work with old machinery, and blocked fire escapes.

Executive Director of ETI, Peter McAllister said that ‘brands hold a lot of power over their suppliers and need to recognise that unreasonable demands are likely to drive poor working conditions for garment workers.’ At the same time ‘suppliers exploit their workers.’

The supply chain in fast fashion is unequal at every stage; however, garment workers suffer the most as retail’s low prices mean that suppliers can’t improve working conditions or provide fair pay. Manufacturers are even starting to sell directly to consumers to create a decent profit and pay their workers fairly.

Brands ‘chase the cheap needle around the planet,’ with lots of brands having factories abroad because it’s cheaper. But, despite UK employment laws, Leicester seems to have its own rules. Rules that the government is fully aware of. Mick Cheema, Ethical Clothing Manufacturer in Leicester, proposes two solutions: retailers sourcing a percentage from ethical factories and government’s enforcing law.

Boohoo’s Code of Conduct documents states that they have a number of regulations in place to ensure fair treatment of workers. But, the evidence ends there. There is no transparency that they carry out these regulations in their international factories.

When Boohoo and other fast fashion retailers sell dresses for as little as £4, you have to question how they are able to do this. Somewhere along the supply chain, someone is suffering because of the low prices.

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Today, there have been queues outside fast fashion retailer, Primark, as UK government gave permission to open retail stores on 15th June. I have previously written about Primark’s amorality, but we mustn’t shame those that are queuing outside. They may have children who have outgrown their clothes during lockdown. People have been made redundant/furloughed because of the pandemic. Charity shops are still closed due to the pandemic, and those that are opening are under a lot of pressure to sort through donations and quarantine them for at least 72 hours before selling. These are not the people we should be calling out when it comes to boycotting the fast fashion industry. We shouldn’t be shaming low income families for providing. I am lucky to be able to shop from ethical and sustainable brands and find my size easily in charity shops and on sites like Depop. Let’s start questioning the industry and ‘throwaway’ culture rather than shaming those that have no choice.

S x

Black Owned Ethical Brands

The past fortnight, social media has erupted in the response to George Floyd’s murder. There have been protests in all 50 states in America and 18 countries across the world, making this the largest civil rights movement in world history.

Systemic racism is real. It affects every aspect of life: school, university, jobs, housing, and more. The fashion industry is no different. Across fashion history, the industry has profited from black culture, often with no recognition or credit. It’s time for the industry and its consumers to step up.

It’s time for change. It’s time to learn, listen, and support. It’s time to elevate black voices and recognise that this industry, as well as others, continues to exploit black culture.

I’m going to be sharing some black owned sustainable fashion brands that I’ve found over the past few days. But this doesn’t stop after people stop posting on Instagram. To all my non-black readers, we need to use our privilege for good. There are countless resources on all platforms on what you should do to support BLM. This is just one thing you can do:

Local European

Mindfulness is at the centre of LE. They use deadstock fabric (unused fabric destined for landfill) and create classic, neutral, and stylish pieces. Once its sold out, its sold out for good. Not only does their manufacturing process reduce waste, but it lowers their carbon footprint by a huge amount.

Elia Vintage 

Selling timeless vintage pieces, Elia Vintage drops her new looks every couple of weeks. The iconic pieces would make a gorgeous addition to your wardrobe, from sleek oversized blazers, to sparkly NYE vibe dresses.

Lemlem

Made entirely in Africa, Lemlem prides itself on artisanship and preserving art. Handwoven and natural cotton made by traditional weavers not only provides job across Africa, but it expands the production process. Its founder, Liya Kedebe, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, also founded the Lemlem Foundation. The Lemlem Foundation is a non-profit that allows artisans in Africa to access healthcare, education, and jobs.

revivalldn

In 2016, Rosette Ale was in her final year at University, studying modules about textile waste and sustainability. This sparked an interest within her, and Revival was born. Their aim? ‘Giving old clothes a new lease of life.’ Made from reclaimed textiles, the creativity shines through each piece of clothing.

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We Are Kin

During the pandemic, We Are Kin are taking this time to make masks for their local community, and designing their next collection. Full of wardrobe staples, We Are Kin work to create pieces that are timeless rather than temporary. They also use their platform to raise awareness, most recently breast cancer awareness.

Proclaim

Using sustainable fabrics like Tencel™ and Repreve®, Proclaim creates inclusive lingerie. They use recycled packaging to ensure that from start to finish their production line is as sustainable as can be. The recycled polyester used to create their soft lingerie is made from plastic bottles that were destined for landfill – ‘It’s the little things that add up to make a big difference.’

Shobha Philips Proclaim Founder Inclusive Nude Ethically Made in Los Angeles

Adele Dejak 

Handmade in Kenya, Adele Dejak ensures that her brand feeds back into the local communities. The incredible craftsmanship that goes into each piece is shown by their stunning collections. Adele talks of her inspiration from ‘rich African culture,’ but ‘you can easily tell that my stay in Europe also influences my style of jewellery.’

Omi Woods

Omi Woods celebrates the connection to Africa and her diaspora. Fair trade is at the centre of Omi Woods, using small-scale artisanal gold mines that pay miners a fair wage. The fair-trade African gold is then handmade into jewellery that is simply gorgeous.

We Are We Wear

Fishing nets, industrial plastics, and fabric scraps are what We Are We Wear use to create their eco-friendly swimwear. They champion sustainability and inclusivity because everyone should feel comfortable in their swimwear. They recognise that swimwear isn’t only worn on holiday or to the beach, so their stylish pieces are suitable for festivals and nights out.

Again, these are just some of the black owned businesses producing beautiful ethical fashion and jewellery. Depop now have a ‘Shop Black Sellers’ section, highlighting the need for the fashion industry to elevate black voices and talent.

Don’t stop here. Sign petitions, donate if you can, read, watch, and most importantly, listen. Talk to family and friends, and actively change to fight for what is right. I’m going to leave some resources below, and there are more accessible on all social media platforms.

Resources:

Books:

‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race,’ Reni Eddo-Lodge

‘Me and White Supremacy,’ Layla F. Saad

‘How to be an anti-racist,’ Ibram X. Kendi

Videos:

13th (available on Netflix)

Dear White People (available on Netflix)

Jane Elliot’s Anti-Racism exercise:

Other Resources:

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In an essay for the New York Times, acclaimed professor, award-winning author, and director of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center, @ibramxk dove into the topic of how to combat racism: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ “No one becomes “not racist,” despite a tendency by Americans to identify themselves that way. We can only strive to be “anti-racist” on a daily basis, to continually rededicate ourselves to the lifelong task of overcoming our country’s racist heritage. We learn early the racist notion that white people have more because they are more; that people of color have less because they are less. I had internalized this worldview by my high school graduation, seeing myself and my race as less than other people and blaming other blacks for racial inequities. To build a nation of equal opportunity for everyone, we need to dismantle this spurious legacy of our common upbringing.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In order to do this, we have to educate ourselves. We can learn about covert white supremacy, follow organizations leading the way for racial equity and justice, watch films, listen to podcasts, and read books. This doesn’t need to be seen as a chore, but can instead be seen as an opportunity — an opportunity to better understand ourselves, love our neighbors, and become the change we wish to see. #AntiRacism #BecomeGoodNews @goodgoodgoodco ⠀⠀ — Link to resources in @goodgoodgoodco bio

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#BlackLivesMatter

S x

The Sisters Who Sew

Embroidery is a craft that has been linked back to the 5th-3rd century BC. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of hand embroidery, and during lockdown its popularity has increased. Sites like Instagram and Pinterest have allowed people to share their work, inspiring more people to learn this craft. Embroidery artists have said that its become popular because it’s a digitally disconnecting and relaxing practice.

The Hannah Sisters, Liberty and Isabella, started embroidering during lockdown. I had a little chat with them about why they started embroidering and why it’s such a great way to upcycle your clothes!

What made you start embroidery?

At the beginning of lockdown, I was struggling a lot with not having anything to do but sit around and watch TV or scroll endlessly on my phone, which left me feeling unproductive and frustrated. So, I decided it was time to take up a new hobby. I wanted a hobby that I could do whilst watching TV or listening to an audio book, a hobby that I wouldn’t have to engage my brain fully in, one that would allow me to multitask when doing it.

So, I decided to try crochet. I really enjoyed it, for a while, although my excitement in it began to dwindle because it is a craft that is less about the thing you’re making, but the process of making it. When my mum suggested that we learn to embroider our clothes, I was eager to try. There is a large element of design to embroidering your own clothes, and a larger focus on the product that you are producing.

Why do you love embroidery?

I love embroidery because it’s so exciting to realise that you can customise your own clothes and completely revamp a piece of clothing. I love it because there is always a new stitch or technique to learn that requires a lot of concentration and time. When you finish embroidering a piece of clothing, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something, whilst constantly finessing your craft.

Why is embroidery a great way to upcycle clothes?

Embroidery allows you to completely transform a piece of clothing that you were previously disinterested in, to a staple in your wardrobe. It’s also taught me to have a greater appreciation for clothes and has encouraged me to spend slightly more time on clothing that has obviously taken love and care to make.

What pieces have you embroidered & what do you want to embroider next?

I embroider lots of different things, like dresses, shirts, t-shirts, and jackets. I’ve been thinking about embroidering some shoes, potentially my old white converse that I haven’t worn in years!

Any top tips for embroidering?

If you’re trying to learn embroidery, YouTube is the place to start! There are so many amazing videos on there, I would particularly recommend ‘HandiWorks.’ Start with learning different stitches before you focus on your own designs.

Check out their Instagram @sisters_who_sew to see some of their gorgeous designs!

S x

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