Rubber soles with soul – Launderette visits footwear brand, Veja

Launderette recently visited the London-based showroom of French footwear brand Veja. We’ve never been so inspired by a business model. They’ve completely reinvented the way that materials are sourced and how they are manufactured. The proof is in the pudding – well-designed, great priced shoes can actually do more good than harm for the earth and for workers.

Footwear is notoriously difficult to produce ‘ethically.’ One reason is that there are so many different types of materials used to make one pair of shoes. They have to be durable, comfortable, water resistant, context specific, well constructed and look good too.

Veja’s canvas sneakers use organic cotton from a cooperative of 320 family farms across Northeast Brazil that adhere to fair trade rules and respect workers rights. For the past five years, Veja has been working directly with ADEC (Associação de Desenvolvimento Educacional e Cultural), and this has allowed Veja to establish a seamless, human-based business model that avoids middlemen and makes sure that reasonable profits go directly to the producers themselves.

Veja is specially working with a chemist on a unique recipe for their fabric dyes using vegetable extracts such as Acacia. The leather used in their shoes, bags and wallets are also vegetable-tanned, which avoids polluting the surrounding environment.

The rubber soles are truly the most awe-inspiring part of a Veja shoe. The Amazon is the only place on earth where rubber trees grow in the wild, and every Amazonian rubber tapper lives and works in the forest, harvesting it direct from the trees. Using a new technology created by the University of Brasilia, the rubber tappers can transform the milky latex liquid straight into rubber sheets ready to be shaped into soles of Veja trainers.

Watch the video to see how the process works from tree to liquid latex to sole:

VEJA – CAOUTCHOUC SAUVAGE D’AMAZONIE from Veja on Vimeo.

The actual Veja trainers are made in a factory located in the Vale dos Sinos, a well-developed region in South Brazil. Workers’ rights are respected and social audits are carried out in the factory as part of the FLO-Cert standard. Veja founders, François Morillion and Sébastien Kopp, are proving that a responsible and sustainable supply chain is entirely possible – it just takes doing your research!

Launderette actually went to check out the new S/S 12 collections but couldn’t help but be inspired by the amazing story behind the products. For spring, our favourite collection is Indigenos – vegetable-tanned suede with the wild rubber soles available in low and high top. These are somewhere in between a dressed-up look for the casual guy or low-key appeal for the slick, urban gentleman. We love the matching coloured laces! The Méditerranée collection is also great – it will bring both men and women delightfully into summer. A crossover between a sneaker and a boat shoe, this style, featuring organic cotton canvas, is the perfect weekend shoe. And they’re affordable!

Veja Indigenos HighTop in Geranium

Veja Indigenos HighTop in Geranium

We love that Veja also pays special attention to the design details. On the bottom of each shoe, you’ll find the weight of rubber used in each shoe.

Veja Mediterranée in Navy LondonRed

Veja Mediterranée in Navy LondonRed

Proof that another world is indeed possible!

Stop Shopping and Start Swapping – The Closet Swap

Over too many glasses of wine, a friend and I were recently lamenting about how bored we are with some of our clothing. And, as January has it, neither of us can really afford (or should advocate) going out and splurging on loads of pretty new things. Our answer? Clothes swap.

So next week, a small handful of my best ladies and I are going to sit in my lounge and do what I’m endearingly calling “Swapsies”. One woman’s lifeless, bored garment is another woman’s newly cherished treasure! Add canapes and champagne (more likely oatcakes and prosecco) and voila – giving new lease to old clothes!

The last clothing swap I went to was The Big Swish, the UK’s first clothes swapping roadshow. It’s basically a clothing swap on a highly organised and commercial level – these people are professional “swishers”.  I was WAY out of my league – fierce fashion bargain-loving ladies were lined up like Olympic runners in the 100-m dash. Intense! I managed to score a super lush olive-green crushed velvet dress, so I made out ok in the end.

“Swishing” seems to be somewhat of a growing trend, thanks to our recession-crunched pocketbooks. Swishing parties are popping up on nearly every continent, and there’s dozens of websites where you can swap clothes for free with a much wider network. Check out Posh Swaps, Big Wardrobe, Covert CandySwishingSwapStyle to get an idea of how it all works.

My personal favourite is the newly launched Closet Swap, which takes “swishing” to a whole new level! Launched as a project of Channel 4, Closet Swap allows you to swap, borrow or lend your clothes – turning your wardrobe into an endless array of cute outfit possibilities. It’s a bit like that computerised, revolving closet you’ve always dreamed of.  To make it even easier and more social network friendly (of course), all you have to do is sign in with your Facebook ID to create your own virtual closet. Easily shared with your friends across your own network and you begin to build endless fashion options.

Closet Swap website

Closet Swap website - http://closetswap.co.uk/

As if it wasn’t already savvy enough, they also launched a Closet Swap iphone app, which let’s you swap on-the-go and also includes the “Fashion Finder” – a pinpointed google map of nearby markets, vintage shops and sustainable fashion boutiques based on your GPS’d location. 

Stop shopping and start swapping? Well, at least we’ll add it to our ethical fashion mission.

Mixing Old & New – Interview with Beautiful Soul’s designer, Nicola Woods

Over the busy holidays, Launderette caught up with Nicola Woods, designer of exciting new label – Beautiful Soul, a British, luxury womenswear label based in London’s Notting Hill. Quintessentially English with a slight asian influenced twist.

Beautiful Soul has already been featured in the pages of Vogue, Grazia, Drapers, Tatler, you name it…. it’s sophisticated offerings are sweeping ladies across the globe.

And Nicola is brilliant – one of the most cheery, optimistic and truly driven women we have ever met! Launderette digs into the brand a bit further and finds out what makes Nicola tick…

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Launderette: Tell us about how the kimono collection got started.

Nicola Woods: For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be a Fashion Designer, I even wrote to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ back in the day!

After working in a fast paced career in corporate insurance for 11 years, I took a sabbatical to travel globally and on this journey I began to envision my career path from a different point of view – one with endless opportunities.

Whilst in Tokyo, surrounded by boutiques, feeling mesmorised, excited and inspired, I realised that I needed to make radical changes to my lifestyle and revisit my childhood ambition of design.

Returning to London, I trained at the London College of Fashion, earning a BA(Hons) in Fashion, Design and Technology (Creative Pattern Cutter) in 2008. I launched Beautiful Soul in November of that same year.

During my final year at university, I was involved in a project based around ‘saving the earth’. I was hooked.

My graduation collection ‘smallprint’ was dedicated to that life changing moment, sitting under a cherry blossom tree in the heart of Tokyo…and Beautiful Soul’s Kimono Collection was built on this premise.

You do bespoke garments using your vintage kimonos – made to order. Tell us about the process and what’s most exciting about doing bespoke pieces? (Someday, we want one!)

NW: The Kimono Collection is Beautiful Soul’s bespoke collection for men and women, which is available to buy all year round.

The Beautiful Soul studio boasts one of the largest archives of vintage Japanese kimonos dating back to the 1940’s and it is from this archive that Beautiful Soul’s Kimono Collection is brought to life.

Customers are invited to choose their own vintage kimono in the Beautiful Soul studio or online and then be part of the journey of transforming and upcycling it into an expertly tailored, one-of-a-kind garment. Each piece carries a strong emphasis on longevity, multi-function and adjustability.

Your personal design story – i.e. going back to school after working in the corporate world for so long – is really inspiring, especially for our readers who have similar ambitions. What was it like going back to fashion school, where probably everyone was 18 and just discovering themselves? Did you find that being a bit older and more experienced gave you an edge or difficulties?

NW: Thank you so much. Returning to university in my late twenties was the right time for me. I approach life with a very open mind and I do not see age as a barrier. Age is just a number.

I started out in the corporate sector and gained invaluable transferable skills, so this has helped Beautiful Soul to progress. I have experienced life’s luxuries (and a monthly pay cheque) and I am now determined to make a livelihood from my dream.This sparks my determination and keeps me focused.

I started Beautiful Soul after I graduated (2008) with very little experience of the fashion industry and without a plan of action. I confess: I was not prepared.

2011 has been an incredible year of growth from a business perspective and I have learnt tore-evaluate my priorities, balancing the business and creative responsibilities, building a firm foundation and more importantly, a sustainable future for the brand.

This is part of the brand building process. Perseverance is key and I have self-belief. I have found my feet and I have a map to follow.

My objective is for Beautiful Soul to form part of the British Fashion Elite, whilst maintaining my strong commitment to transparency. Taking responsibility for the planet is not a trend, it is the only way forward and I am at my happiest when I am sharing my knowledge and experience with emerging creative talents to garner collective recognition.

We have seen a lot of growth – design-wise, in quality, the silhouettes, even the prints – since Beautiful Soul’s inception. How do you think your design has evolved over the last couple of collections? 

NW: I have spent the best part of 2011 developing Beautiful Soul from a business perspective and understanding the brand.

Kimono Collection

Beautiful Soul started out with a Kimono Collection, which is an extremely complex and restrictive design process. When you dismantle a vintage kimono, you are left with very limited panels of fabric, only 38cm wide. You have to work with these restrictions and nurture an understanding of the fabric availability.

Any leftover fabric was placed aside and then revisited the following season, where I set myself the challenge of designing a new piece based on the leftovers. I am extremely fond of fabric and I hate to see it go to waste!

A woman’s curves change regularly and it’s frustrating when a zip or button will not close. I therefore avoid using conventional fastening in my designs and instead explored alternative methods.

Furthermore, I believe that multi functionality renders a garment timeless, as it can be worn to suit different moods and seasons.

My design ethos was challenging and after 4 seasons, I had a strong collection of timeless designs. I selected my favourite pieces, which are available to buy all year round through Beautiful Soul’s e-commerce offering. We can also accommodate small wholesale orders regardless of the season. One of the world’s most fashion-focused museums, London’s V&A, has stocked Beautiful Soul’s Kimono Collection since the label’s launch.

Beautiful Soul London

We launched Beautiful Soul London, Beautiful Soul’s ready-to-wear collection in February 2011 during Paris Fashion Week (AW:11)

We are currently working on the labels third collection (AW:12), which will incorporate my own prints, British lace and British wool.

I want to build a brand that supports the decline of the apparel industry in the UK. Made in England will play a fundamental part in the growth of Beautiful Soul and will add a heritage value in years to come.

What was the inspiration for the SS12 collection?

NW: ‘Summer Breeze – SS:12 ’ is Beautiful Soul London’s second collection and was my first attempt at designing my own prints. The collection draws inspiration from the scenic English summertime and vintage kimono fabrics from Beautiful Soul’s archive of Japanese kimonos.

The brightly coloured houses, tree blossoms, local parks surrounding Notting Hill and the exuberant energy of summertime, all serve as inspirations for the collection and the unique prints I have designed myself this season.

The delicate, vintage style prints incorporate splashes of the bright, vivid colours that Notting Hill is known for.

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Where do you tend to source fabrics, and what does your sourcing process generally entail? What do you look for in your materials choices?

NW: I understand the balance that fashion has to be desirable. Ethics are an added bonus. Hanger appeal is imperative and Beautiful Soul is committed to using luxurious sustainable fabrics, allowing our pieces to compete with mainstream competitors.

You have a zero-waste policy in your studio, how does that push innovative thinking in your design?

NW: A designer has choices and it makes commercial sense to make use of leftover fabrics and re-use existing fabrics, which would otherwise be sent to landfill. It is about nurturing a balance.

What are your favourite brands or designers or fashion websites – ethical or not?

NW: British brands that I am striving to sit alongside are Mulberry and Alice Temperley, and I wear vintage Ossie Clarke with pride! I also love Marni and MiuMiu.

Young designers who’s pieces I own or would love to own: Erdem , Hermione de Paula and Teatum Jones. I love to mix and match old with new.

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Beautiful Soul S/S12 (all photos courtesy of Felicities PR)

Thanks Nicola – you’re 美しいです!

Looking ahead to 2012

The economic climate hasn’t improved much since 2008 and doesn’t look like it’ll change during 2012. Thinking about how we shape the future will become ever more important. In 2012, we will all have to be more responsible, both socially and environmentally, than ever before.  Fashion is very much a part of this bigger picture.

The prices of many materials used in our clothing are set to have a volatile year – especially cotton. With many countries now passing or proposing “green taxes” and fees for waste, everything is set to become much more expensive. However, the prices we shoppers demand are fairly inflexible – we want cheap, cheaper and impossibly cheap. While we do too love a good bargain, we can’t help but ask ourselves… at what expense?

The good news is that ethical fashion designers have really made their mark throughout 2011 and even many long-established brands have picked up the momentum on environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

Launderette has picked out our top 10 designers and brands we expect big things for in 2012. This year is going to be all about back-to-basics and innovation. Here we go!

Afia

Afia is a marriage of the traditional, vibrant West African aesthetics and  urban American trends. All fabrics are sourced from small producers and sewn by expert seamstresses in Ghana using age-old techniques. Afia also ensures that the business process is helping to build sustainable livelihoods for the producers.

The collection is fun, vibrant and flirty and works for all shapes and sizes.  We can’t wait to see what they conjure up for 2012!

AFIA Summer 2011 Capsule

AFIA Summer 2011 Capsule

Ajna

Ajna, named after the third-eye chakra, is the zen of fashion – it’s not just clothes, it’s an entire philosophy. The design is based on the interconnectedness of all things and a non-interference with the natural course of events. Whilst it all sounds a bit hippie-dippy to us, the important part is that the clothes are actually really great.

Brooklyn-based designer, Beryl Man, has worked for the likes of Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, Tse Cashmere and Hussein Chalayan. The woman knows how to design. Expect perfectly draped and luxuriously comfy woolly jumpers and silky dresses in organic fibres and wild silk.

Andrea Crews

Andrea Crews is hard to describe. It’s more of a conceptual collective than a straight -forward fashion brand. Their shop in the Pigalle Neighborhood of Paris is an experimental laboratory where eccentric artists, stylists, DJs and videographers meet to create their fantastical conceptions.

Andrea Crews itself is a fictional alias (half man, half women) dreamed up by owner/designer Maroussia Rebecq to represent the eclectic group of creators unified by their conceptual approach to design and active stance on human rights and environmental concerns.

Their fashion collection, which uses second-hand clothing as well as end of roll and off-cut materials, embraces the nu-rave, club kid feel with its vibrant patterns, neon space shapes and 3D comic strip prints. This is not for the boring!

Andrea Crews SS12

Andrea Crews SS12

Carrie Parry

Central Saint Martin’s graduate, Carrie Parry epitomizes sophisticated, tailored cool and with an appreciation for luxury and simplicity. It’s all in the details, from intricately textured fabrics to whimsical touches and fastidious workmanship.  Designing with careful consideration of social and environmental impact, Carrie Parry produces ethically and locally in the New York garment district, sourcing environmentally conscious materials whilst supporting artisanal communities worldwide.  We think it’s the perfect label to wear to work!

Carrie Parry Fall 2011 Collection

Carrie Parry Fall 2011 Collection

Collina Strada

Launched in Los Angeles in 2008, Hillary Taymour’s label Collina Strada is a line of handbags that truly stands out from the rest. Focusing on texture, sharp details and unique shapes and inspired by both the vintage and the modern, each handbag is handcrafted in New York City using vegan-friendly, eco-conscious materials. Already stocked in Urban Outfitters, Fred Segal, Kaight, ShopBop and many, many more, 2012 is going to be a good year for Collina Strada.

Crescioni

Andria Crescioni was born and raised in Los Angeles and the dynamic landscape and ease of the west coast resonates in her designs. Her aim is to promote and sustain traditional crafts in her collections and to act as a liaison between artisans and consumers. She also focuses on the handicrafts of batik printing in silk, handweaving with salvaged leather, and metalworking using reclaimed steel. Her first collection is absolutely stunning – ethereal, romantic and effortlessly easy to wear.

from Crescioni S/S Lookbook

from Crescioni S/S Lookbook

Giulia rien à mettre

Giulia Mazzer’s architectural background is clearly visible in the perfection of her cuts and the accuracy of her details. Giulia rien à mettre was born from the will to demonstrate that ethics, the environment and social responsibility are at the core of the refined art of living.

Every garment is made in Italy with eco-friendly fabrics and supports the principles of fair trade to maximize benefits to people and communities and minimize the impact on the environment.

The design oozes elegance and chic refinement. These are clothes that will definitely get you noticed.

Giulia rien à mettre S/S 2012

Giulia rien à mettre S/S 2012

LAVUK

LAVUK is sweatshop free and made locally in Los Angeles with sustainable materials such as organic cotton, tencel, hemp and dead stock silks. The aesthetic encompasses classic silhouettes with a slight futuristic twist.  The result is timeless but fashion-forward clothes in simple, comfortable materials and a fresh, bold colour palette.

Lucio Castro

After six years as Head Menswear Designer at Armani Exchange, Lucio Castro is about to launch his first very own collection of menswear with an emphasis on sustainable fabrics and artisanal techniques. Most fabrics are Japanese and organic, whilst cut and sewn by a few artisanal groups in Sri Lanka. All the trim is being produced by small fair trade organisations: coconut buttons in India, hand-made metal buttons in Nepal (with very low nickel levels) and Tagua nut buttons in Ecuador.

Castro’s debut S/S 2012 collection is called “Nature is a language, can’t you read?” after a Smiths’ song and inspired by French filmmaker Fernand Deligny’s concept of “elevated simplicity.” The result is beautifully crafted, clean cut and sophisticated menswear – such a breath of fresh air!

Lucio Castro S/S12 preview

Lucio Castro S/S12 preview

Studio JUX

Netherlands/Kathmandu based label Studio JUX is all about marrying commercial design with social and environmental responsibility. They use organic cotton, recycled polyester, hemp and bamboo. Each garment is constructed by master tailors in Nepal, who are ensured fair labour conditions. The team at Studio JUX believe that big brands cannot ignore these ethical issues for much longer and that they will be on the forefront of a new way forward.

We think you’ll agree that their menswear is particularly strong!

Here’s to a happy, prosperous and forward-thinking 2012 from Launderette!

Launderette’s Holiday Gift-giving list (you’re welcome)

The holidays are really about giving gifts (even though we wrote our wish list first, oops!). This year we’ve vowed to now let ourselves leave it to the last minute and end up forced to buy some meaningless, crappy gift from a high street chain. This year it’s all about giving friends and family something that was made with care for the planet, the craftsman and the gift-receiver. Here’s our top recommendations for great ethical gifts:

1.  Millican’s ‘Jonathan’ the roll wash bag

Inspired by artist tool rolls, this bag is any man’s best friend. It’s made in 100% organic cotton weatherproof canvas with 100% recycled polyester lining, and the bit of leather is vegetable tanned.  Manufactured in China but at least getting the materials right. Available in Slate Green or Antique Bronze.

Millican 'Jonathan' roll wash - £75

Millican 'Jonathan' roll wash - £75

Roll wash in Antique Bronze

Roll wash in Antique Bronze

2.  Teroforma Whisky Rocks

Co-founder Andrew Hellman took inspiration from a bag of loose stones found in his Swedish grandfather’s liquor cabinet to come up with an American interpretation of a centuries-old Scandinavian tradition. Milled in Vermont by the oldest soapstone workshop in the US.  It takes just three chilled stones just five minutes to send a glass of whisky to perfection!

Teroforma Whisky Stones - US$20

Teroforma Whisky Stones - US$20

4.  Tagsmith’s Folding Leather Business Card Case

Everybody needs a proper business card holder – one that’s built to last.  This one is handcrafted by an expert in Los Angeles using 100% Full Grain USA Eco-Friendly Vegetable Tanned Leather. It comes in a whole array of colours but the natural and black are classics.

Tagsmith's Handmade in America Business Card Holder - US$26

Tagsmith's Handmade in America Business Card Holder - US$26

5.  WEwood’s DATE beige/brown wooden watch

We love this idea! Each watch is made almost entirely from scrap-wood and uses state-of-the-art Miyota movements for the guts.  And for every WEwood purchased, they plant a tree in an American forest. It’s the perfect gift for your lumberjack/Americana/folk music loving man (or lady!)

WEwood wooden watch - US$119

WEwood wooden watch - US$119

6.  People Tree’s Men’s Bobble Hat

Men’s, huh? No way! This hat knows no gender, everyone can wear this, it’s so sweet! It’s this nice soft grey colour with a dark pink pom pom. Hand-knitted in Nepal using 100% and certified Fair Trade wool.

People Tree's grey/pink Bobble Hat - £25

People Tree's grey/pink Bobble Hat - £25

7.  Pants to Poverty’s Affirmation Socks

This is a good reminder to bring in 2012 and all you have to do is take off your shoes! They’re so pink and happy, thank you! Made with 100% organic cotton and for every pair purchased, one pair of thermal socks goes to homeless people in the UK.  Brilliant!

Pants To Poverty's Affirmation Sock in pink/lime green - £9

Pants To Poverty's Affirmation Sock in pink/lime green - £9

8.  Traidcraft’s Recycled Tulip Shaped Wine Glasses

Made by CRISIL, a glass-making factory situated in Cochabamba, central Bolivia. It is a family-owned business run by two brothers. These guys also do really beautifully engraved tumblers and highball glasses. We can hardly choose one!

Traidcraft's Recycled Wine Glasses - £14 for set of 4 (BARGAIN!)

Traidcraft's Recycled Wine Glasses - £14 for set of 4 (BARGAIN!)

9.  KIVA Giftcard

The best gift to get someone who is impossible to shop for. KIVA lets people choose projects they want to support whether a group or individual– for as little as $25. We got a KIVA giftcard two years ago and we’ve lent money to seven start-ups to help them embark on fashion businesses in developing countries. It’s fun and makes you feel like you’re really helping someone!

Kiva gift card - US$25 minimum

Kiva gift card - US$25 minimum

10.  Priti NYC Nail lacquer Winter 2011 collection

Priti NYC polishes are all completely non-toxic and made without toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DHB) and formaldehyde- all known carcinogenic ingredients. They also do a soy nail polish remover and a recycled glass nail file – genius! Available in over 100 different shades including metallics, mattes, bright neons, rich darks, classic nudes, and everything in between.

The new 2011 Winter Collection from Priti NYC - US$12.50 each

The new 2011 Winter Collection from Priti NYC - US$12.50 each

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM LAUNDERETTE!!!

Launderette’s Epic Holiday Wish List

This holiday gift giving season, let’s make sure we’re getting (and giving) gifts that are actually meaningful and long-lasting. Here’s Launderette’s holiday wish list full of ethical and sustainable fashion treats:

1. Olga Olsson’s high-waisted ‘Lara’ bikini

Not that the winter is really the time to be thinking about swimwear but we’re planning a hot holiday get-away in January, and the only bikini we’re wearing is an Olga Olsson.  Made in Brazil by women paid a fair living wage, buying this item also helps support and empower small producers. Feel good, look cute – yes please!

Olga Olsson's 'Lara' bikini - £180

Olga Olsson's 'Lara' bikini - £180

2. SUNO x Loeffler Randall’s ‘Estrella’ Platforms

Major lust over these! SUNO is a New York based womenswear label founded in 2008 by Max Osterweis in collaboration with designer Erin Beatty. Using vintage Kenyan textiles that have been collected for years, SUNO has evolved its business to include production in Kenya, India, Peru and its home base of New York. SUNO has long been a Launderette favorite and just keeps getting better and better.

SUNO x Loeffler Randall 'Estrella' platform - US$415.50

SUNO x Loeffler Randall 'Estrella' platform - US$415.50

3. Paragraph Cove’s Planets Upcycled Envelopes

We love love love these handcrafted envelopes from a discarded book about outer space published in 1966. For a fun, quirky way of sending all of our Christmas thank you notes?

Paragraph Cove's Upcyled Planets envelopes - US$8 for set of 4

Paragraph Cove's Upcyled Planets envelopes - US$8 for set of 4

4.  The North Circular’s Celtic Rope Hood

Everybody needs something warm & cozy for the winter months, unless you live near the equator (then we’re jealous!). This scarf-meets-hood is perfection – and anyone, regardless of personal style, could find a cool way to wear this. The North Circular, brainchild of model Lily Cole, is made exclusively from rescued Wensleydale sheep, with the expert hand knitting skills of  ‘grannies, girls. …and a few strong men’ in the UK.

The North Circular's Celtic Rope Hood - £300

The North Circular's Celtic Rope Hood - £300

5. Mociun’s Mismatched Triangle Turquoise and Diamond Studs

A rock n’ roll chick’s dream-come-true, right here.  Handmade in NYC using recycled materials, Mociun continues to “explore and integrate the ever-emerging technologies and critical conceptions of sustainability.” Dear Santa, I want…

Mociun's MisMatched Triangle Studs - US$320

Mociun's MisMatched Triangle Studs - US$320

6. Esther Porter’s ‘Lark’ handbag

Each bag is handmade, the old-fashioned way in an East London workshop using buttery-soft, chrome-free leather from a family-run German tannery and traditionally-milled, British waxed cotton. We love this burnt-orange/gunmetal-grey colour combo – it even has white/blue striped cotton lining. We hope our mom’s and dad’s are reading this….. (hint hint)

Esther Porter's 'Lark' bag - £275

Esther Porter's 'Lark' bag - £275

7. Jonathan Ward’s ‘Kiss in Rio’ scented candle

The Kiss in Rio candle is hand-poured using paraffin-free organic soy and beeswax, housed in Italian hand blown crystal tumbler but made entirely in London. It’s aromas are delightful tangle of blackcurrant, clove, licorice, pepper and smoky wood. The result is rich, dark, seductive and moody. Just how we like them….

Jonathan Ward's 'Kiss in Rio' candle - £30

Jonathan Ward's 'Kiss in Rio' candle - £30

8.  Sosume’s Combo Tee in Black/Rust

Sosume’s t-shirts are made from Modal, which they source from a high-end Japanese mill and manufacture in Melbourne where the brand is based. Modal is a naturally derived, man-made cellulose based fibre, created from wood pulp of the beech tree. It’s biodegradable, uses 1/10 the water of cotton and is resistant to pilling. We would wear these t-shirts everyday if we could – this black/rust double-sided number is brilliant!

Sosume's Combo Tee in Black/Rust - AU$129

Sosume's Combo Tee in Black/Rust - AU$129

9. The RODNICK Band’s Sunflower Dress

The Sunflower Dress inspired by Vincent Van Gogh is a Limited edition of five, wearable artwork. The collection was exhibited at London Fashion week and was represented by 20 Hoxton Square Gallery. Each dress is hand crafted with over 3 weeks of sequin and embroidery work. Best holiday party dress ever!

The RODNICK Band's Sunflower Dress - £1,295

The RODNICK Band's Sunflower Dress - £1,295

10. In Bloom’s Connect  bra & panty set

In Bloom is the new lingerie label designed by Emily Huc, using 100% organic cotton and Tencel, which is another naturally derived, man-made and biodegradable material.  All of her suppliers are based in Europe and all manufacturing happens in France. It’s delicate, feminine and soft. Sexy yet comfortable – exactly what good undies should be.

In Bloom's 'Connect' bra & panty set - £48

In Bloom's 'Connect' bra & panty set - £48

Next week…. Launderette’s gift-giving list because everyone deserves a present made with love and care for the environment and people!

Africa, we love you!

Over the last several seasons, African influences have swept the fashion world from the runway to the high street. Not only the wonderful, vibrant patterns that have become so quintessentially African but also the shapes and embellishments inspired by age-old techniques. The African vibe has seeped into collections all across the fashion scene: Junya Watanabe, Diane Von Furstenberg, Oscar De La Renta and Hermes S/S 2009 collections; Dries Van Noten, Alexander McQueen, Etro, Anna Sui and Givenchy S/S 2010 collections; L.A.M.B., Louis Vuitton, Prada and John Galliano S/S 2011; Burberry Prorsum, Tory Burch, Michael Kors and Lanvin S/S 2012 all used African culture and style as inspiration.

Burberry Resort 2012 (via Trendland.net)

Burberry Resort 2012 (via Trendland.net)

Several designers, brands and retailers are starting to work with African producers. Now in its third season, the ASOS Africa collection is bringing gorgeous African-inspired clothes to a much wider audience. The collection is produced in Kenya to support the work of SOKO – a workshop dedicated to developing a sustainable and long-term solutions to the economic problems in Kenya. Then there’s majorly buzzed, SUNO, brainchild of Max Osterweis, which uses vintage Kenyan textiles and is produced predominantly in Kenya. Ali Hewson (wife of Bono) founded her label Edun as a way to encourage more volumes of trade with Sub-Saharan Africa. And finally, there’s smaller, emerging brands such as AFIA, a new fashion forward label, which connects women in Ghana with incredible craftsmanship to the American market.

AFIA Summer Capsule 2011

AFIA Summer Capsule 2011

But hello!!! The African fashion market is emerging in and of itself and online retailers in every market should take more notice! For A/W 2009, ARISE Magazine brought a collective of African designers to New York Fashion Week and has since launched its own fashion week in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s now the largest fashion event on the continent featuring around 50 of Africa’s best designers, many of which source locally and employ local producers and artisans.

Xuly Bët, the eminent Malian label designed by Lamine Badian Kouyaté, has showed at NYFW (with Grace Jones strutting down his catwalk!), has recently opened two boutiques in Paris, and was the inspiration for Forest Whitaker’s role in Robert Altman’s 1994 film, Prêt à porter. Since launching in 1989, he has been awarded with the prestigious Creator of the Year Award in 1994 by the New York Times and received the ANDAM Awards in 1996. Um, can we say amazing? Using the African tradition of recycling garments, he re-creates knitted jumpers, dresses made of patch-worked t-shirts, and disused army coats lined with fake fluorescent fur.

Xuly Bet AMFW 2011

Xuly Bet AMFW 2011

Jewel by Lisa is another label to know from law graduate-cum-fashion designer, Lisa Folawiyo. She specialises in Ankara fabrics, the colourful patterned waxed cotton fabrics characteristic of West Africa for the last many generations. Having already garnered fans such as Beyonce, Solange Knowles, Kelis and Alek Wek since launching in 2005, she’s built a huge clientele and employs a team of 30.

Jewel by Lisa S/S 2012 "Vintage Love"

Jewel by Lisa S/S 2012 "Vintage Love"

Maki Oh experiments with ancient adire motifs from the Yoruba tribe of Nigeria, showcasing proverbs that have been handed down unchanged for generations. The collection features hand-woven silk aso-oke dating back a hundred years, a silk cotton hand-painted with the Yoruba starch paste ‘eko’, and a hand-painted silk chiffon from the Queen of Ogidi village, especially for the collection. Other key materials used include traditional Nigerian Aso-Oke (loosened to form fringes), organically dyed silk charmeuse, shantung and silk organza and dried water reed (sourced from traditional Nigerian sleeping mats).

Maki Oh AW 2011/12

Maki Oh AW 2011/12

And these are only just three designers from Africa that are using the traditions of African style, print, shape, colour and craftsmanship in wholly modern, updated ways.  Many of them are also sourcing locally and using local manufacturers. The list of emerging talent is extensive, many of them hailing from Nigeria: Bestow Elan, Christie Brown, Deola Sagoe, House of Nwocha, Lola Faturoti, Madam Wokie, Samantha Cole, Viv la Resistance, and Angelo Von Mol with his European/African hybrid menswear.

Ok, roll call! Who is coming to Lagos with us?