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International Buzz at the Paris Ethical Fashion Show

Written by Veronica Crespi
The Ethical Fashion Show in Paris is one of the must-attend events of the year for anybody working or interested in sustainable fashion. It was held in the beautiful setting of the Carrousel du Louvre, and conveniently matched dates with more established fashion trade shows of the season, such as Premiere Classe, Who’s Next, and Pret-a-Porter. It was the perfect occasion to discover new brands, for industry professionals to meet and exchange ideas, and to give public access to a dedicated fashion event. The first few days focused on an industry only trade show, with a final day open to the public allowing consumers to attend runway shows and to encourage an alternative shopping experience. Great inspiration was provided by brands showing from Asia as well as a good dose of cosmopolitan influences. Ryota Shiga is a Japanese designer, who was invited to exhibit as a winner of the Lenzing Modal/Tencel contest. Shiga travelled to Austria for a two-week full immersion in the forest for inspiration. There, he produced beautiful patterns, hand-printed on Lenzing wood-based fabrics for his capsule collection. Showing next to each other were two brands who have won the Ethical Fashion Forum’s prestigious Innovation Awards for the last two years. Feng Ho, of Singaporean and Malaysian origins, is currently based in Oxford, UK. To note the contrast between her angular inserts and the softness of the fabrics, Ho uses recycled polyester, azo-free dyed bamboo jersey, organic cotton, soy, and silk/hemp charmeuse. Ultra is a Malaysian label that also bases a lot of their design concept on architectural and essential shapes. This is best represented by their ULTRA 10 capsule collection – ten quality yet basic pieces designed to be the core of a woman’s wardrobe year-round. This line highlights two multi functional garments, a 4-in-1 coat that turns into a dress, shirt, and skirt, and a 2-in-1 jacket that turns into a vest. A strong international showing also came from the ladies behind Smateria, an upcycled label born in Cambodia from the creativity of two Italian women with French influence. Smateria transforms mosquito nets, plastic bags, and Indonesian textiles into colourful and very wearable accessories. They are produced in a local Cambodian factory where people with disabilities are accepted for employment and where a school has been created so women can bring their children to work. A definite highlight of the show was the ethereal creations of ethical couturier Adi, who went back to India after studying fashion in Milan. In his native country, he found inspiration in traditional music and musical instruments, which he translated into exquisite creations of astonishing intricacy. His material of choice is raw hand woven silk used in its natural form, or dyed with natural extracts and embellished by expert hands with sandalwood beads or even sometimes real gold thread. In France, this is called the work of the ‘petits mains,’ and is hailed as haute couture. A highlight from Africa was the collection by Nike Kondakis, whose name betrays her Greek origins. The material of choice for this collection was silk – either upcycled from parachutes, or woven from peace silk threads. It is then organically dyed using tea, coffee, henna and spices. All production is based in Kenya and employs people from different tribes, helping to develop community interaction as well as providing fair wages and education.  South America was represented, among others, by Animana’, an Argentinean knitwear label whose products span from women’s wear to baby wear and home decor. The pictures don’t do justice to the softness of the yarns. Animana’ uses the finest raw materials from Patagonia and the Andes, obtained from animals such as the llama, alpaca, vicuña and guanaco, and Patagonian merino sheep. Coming back to Europe, French label Deux Filles en Fil presented their fun line of bags made of the highest quality leather. Wondering where it comes from and how they can afford it? Simply, they live in an area of France where artisans produce Hermes and Louis Vuitton goods and where even a simple scratch can mean leather is discarded. Therefore, there is no shortage of material for these deux filles to produce their bags. The bags come creatively flat-packed and with an instructions leaflet to bring the bag to shape by means of press buttons. UK brands had a spot too under the sponsorship of EcoLuxe London. Ute Decker, originally German but based in London, is an avant-garde jewellery designer. Her pieces are incredibly innovative with their sculptural qualities that unite mastery silversmithing with an architectural eye, producing a stunning visual result. Decker uses only recycled silver and was one of the first creators to use Fairtrade and Fairmined gold when it was launched earlier this year. Also straight out of London is Alani Gibbon, presenting Inala, a new women’s wear label of multifunctional Modal jersey garments. Each item can be worn in several different ways, cutting on the need to buy a multitude of clothing for each occasion. Her collection is also an explosion of colour, adding an extra dimension to the concept of the multifunctional jersey garment.
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