Bamboo Sunglasses and Dresses


Dress – Frank & Faith
Sunglasses – Colin Leslie
Sandals – really old from Clarks
Bag – Oxfam Boutique
Jewellery – all presents

Lately I seem to have been wearing mainly bamboo! It only just dawned on me that I was wearing a bamboo dress at the same time as my new eco sunglasses by Colin Leslie which are also made from bamboo. This made me think about what a fantastic material bamboo is, it makes great clothes, feels great against the skin, drapes well and keeps you cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold (it has insulating properties). For the sunglasses, it is exactly the opposite in some ways to the fabric, tough, hard and durable but again  it looks great and a little more interesting than conventional plastic sunglasses.

Environmentally speaking bamboo is often hailed as a great eco friendly product but the fabric does have its oponents. Whilst the actual bamboo plant is grown without the use of chemical fertilisers (so much better than conventional cotton) and quickly regenerates making it highly sustainable (much better than synthetics made using petro chemicals), it isn’t without its impacts. The processing needed to turn it into a fabric uses chemicals and the actual product is spun rather than being made from natural bamboo fibre so it is actually a rayon rather than natural bamboo. Others argue that bamboo viscose production uses a closed loop process that relies on Sodium hydroxide as the solvent, which is a chemical approved for use on textiles by the Global Organic Textile Standards and used to process organic cotton. A bit of a confusing one really! But before I bore you with any more of my geekiness about how my clothes are made, I would just like to sum up that I believe that both my bamboo dress and sunglasses are a better alternative than those made from synthetic materials or conventional cotton and I hope will last me for a long time to come.  Admittedly by far the most eco friendly choice would be to buy second hand as I did with the bag in this outfit. You can read up more on the bamboo debate here on Ecouterre.

So onto the weather and the royal baby…

I will not hear a bad word said about this gorgeous weather, bring it on, I say. I do admit though I am so glad I live in the countryside at the moment and can’t imagine what it must be like in London. I have been flagging a little today though with a combination of heat and hay fever, a very energetic body combat class this morning and perhaps the result of a few beers last night (to celebrate the royal baby of course). My answer is to eat ice lollies and lots of them, I am not even going to admit how many. I can’t help feeling a little excited about the royal baby as I would about any new baby but every so slightly jealous that Kate looks so presentable just a day after giving birth. I was a mess for weeks!

Anyway that is far too much rambling for one blog post. I hope you are enjoying this lovely weather.  What are your top tips for keeping cool?

With warmest wishes

 

Sustainable Cashmere

A cashmere cardigan is a great cover up for both the summer and winter months and over the years, I have had quite a few which have stayed in my wardrobe for a long time. They feel lovely against the skin and also keep you cool in summer and comfortingly warm in the winter. A cashmere cardigan is a also a great classic piece that is completely versatile.

However I was disappointed to find out a few years back that there are a number of issues surrounding the ethics and sustainability of cashmere and haven’t bought any cashmere since. The supermarkets seemed to be filled with cheap cashmere cardigans and jumpers for a while and as with anything cheap in fashion, there always seems to be a price for someone to pay in some other way.

Cashmere is a luxury fibre, which comes from the coats of goats. With only twelve regions in the world having the right temperature and terrain to accommodate cashmere goats including Mongolia, China, India and Iran, it has been traditionally it was difficult to get hold, hence the cost and luxury status. Recently 1000’s of cashmere companies have appeared in China but there is a question mark over quality, ethics and sustainability of this industry. In addition to concerns over the living conditions of goats reared in factory farms, there is also the desertification caused by overgrazing of goats and other ethical concerns over sweatshops and manufacture.

There is however a sustainable alternative and if you choose carefully, you can find brands which are working to reduce desertification by using a feed for goats instead of grazing them on the ecologically sensitive grassland. This also has a positive effect on both the quantity and quality of the fibre making for really amazing knitwear. The most sustainable and harmless (in fact it is actually helpful) way of getting the cashmere is to gently comb it and many sustainable cashmere brands now ensure that this method is used. Although there is no formal ‘fair trade’ structure in the cashmere industry, it is possible to find brands like Pure Collection, that cut out middle men ensuring that herders get a premium price for their cashmere.

If you do choose to invest in a beautiful piece of sustainable cashmere, you can prolong its life making it even more sustainable by caring for it carefully. I have lost a  beautiful cashmere sweater to moths on a least one occasion! The best way to avoid this is by storing it in a breathable zipped bag with some natural moth repelling cedar wood balls. It is also best to hand wash your cashmere with a specially formulated washing liquid.

Do you wear cashmere? have you ever considered sustainable cashmere?

With warmest wishes

Johari – The Story Behind the Brand

Johari Tahji Dress

Last week was World Fair Trade Day and I decided to wear my Johari Tafriji dress as I love the pink colour and leopard design but also because I wanted to celebrate a brand that is really making a difference to peoples lives in Africa. I am also featuring Johari in my ‘Story Behind the Brand’ series as I think there is a really interesting story behind their clothes.

Johari’s Philosphy is simple, they believe that fashion should be ethical, stylish and beautiful. Johari means ‘something precious’ in Swahili and each piece of clothing and jewellery is handmade in Kenya by Social Enterprise Johari Designs. Johari empowers vunerable young adults to build a living for themselves and their families.

I have posted about Johari in the past here so thought that this time I would focus on the story of just one people behind the brand.

In its work with schools the Johari Foundation has recognised a need for support of particular children with their educational and social needs. They aim to help improve the employment prospects and provide long term economic opportunities for children who don’t have high academic achievements and avoid them being caught in a trap of poverty, drugs or prostitution.

Agnes (pictured above) is just one of the girls that has been employed by Johari as an apprentice on their Miale Scholarshop Scheme in Naorobi Kenya. 100% of the profits from the sales of Johari products go into funding this project.

Agnes says

“Ever since joining Johari as an apprentice my life has changed for the better. At Johari I have found a team that has encouraged me to look at life positively and found a reason to believe in a possibility of a good future. I have so far perfected my skills in dressmaking, and I’m familiar with purchasing of the workshop materials”.

Agnes has been working in the Johari designs studio, a bright airy space with plenty of natural daylight on the top floor of a building in central Narobi, since 2008. The workshop is well equipped with sewing machines, overlockers and jewellery making equipment. Agnes’s roles at Johari include making sure the production department have the necessary materials, sourcing and purchasing at least twice a week and compiling weekly reports. She says that her favourite aspect of working with Johari is purchasing as she gets to meet lots of different suppliers. She also likes unique items like the Ungana Necklace.

As part of the scholarship, apprentices are be given the opportunity to gain exposure to all aspects of the design, manufacturing and sales process. The girls  divide their time between hand making intricate jewellery and dress making. They work between 9am and 5pm with 2 breaks and an hour for lunch and recieve £100 per month in pay plus access to people who can help with any social issues that they have including additional support with housing if needed.

 

 

Neema Dress
Johari Haki NecklaceHaki Necklace
If you would like to find out more about Johari Designs and the fantastic work that they are doing and check out their fantastic clothes and accessories, please check out www.johari.co.uk. You can also find out more about Agnes on the Johari blog here and meet the rest of the team here.

With warmest wishes

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A Vintage Tea Party!

Vintage Tea Party

I wanted to share an event that I thought would appeal to all lovers of vintage fashion tea and cake – A Vintage Tea Party at Vintage Fashion Fair London.

This looks like the perfect opportunity to get dressed up in a lovely vintage dress and catch up with friends or meet up with some fellow vintage loving fashion bloggers.  The vintage tea party will be held at VIntage Fashion Fair London on 19th May. It is the perfect way to spend a leisurely afternoon with a vintage afternoon tea served on vintage china, music from the forties performed by singing and dancing act ‘My Favourite Things’ and the chance to shop for vintage clothes, accessories and textiles on the vintage stalls which stock a great selection of genuine vintage from a variety of decades. If the weather is nice there will also be tables available in the garden at Cecil Sharp House.

Tickets are £10 and available in advance from Eventbrite

* Entrance to the Vintage Fashion Fair for some great shopping.

* A lunch or tea consisting of delicate finger sandwiches, a selection of delicious cakes and a pot of tea or coffee.

* All served on vintage china at pretty table settings.

* Entertainment from ‘My Favourite Things’ who will be performing at 1.00 p.m. and 3.30 p.m

 

 

Further information visit www.vintagefashionfairlondon.co.uk

Vintage Tea Party London

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Bank Holiday Weekend – Camping and Kites

Cardigan – charity shop
top – Zakee Shariff at People Tree
Leggings – People Tree
Denim Skirt – upcycled
Shoes – Melissa

The bank holiday weekend was our first chance this year to get away in our old camper van, Roberta so we loaded her up with beer and pointed her south. We stayed in a lovely campsite in Weymouth that we stayed at last year when the Olympics were on. Admittedly Saturday was very windy and pretty cold, I spent most of the day huddled in the campervan with my book whilst, the children played and Mr Style Eyes amused himself with cooking a barbeque and insisting it wasn’t that cold until eventually he gave in and put a jumper on. I am afraid due to the mass hair frizziness caused by the wind, I took no outfit photographs!

Sunset and the view from our campsite over Fleet lagoon and Lyme Bay

Top – SkunkFunk
Cropped Jeans – really old!

On Sunday, to my relief, the weather was so much better so we packed a picnic and headed down to Weymouth beach to check out the Kite festival, make sandcastles and enjoy a cheeky glass of cider in the beach cafe.

I won’t bore you with all my kite photographs as I think you really had to be there! But here are just a few

The time passed far too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to go home so we trundled across some of the most beautiful countryside home.Here we stopped off for a bit of lunch to give the old girl a rest (and let the queue of traffic behind us pass) after climbing the massive Spread Eagle Hill. It was well worth the effort as this hill has the most amazing views as far as the eye can see across Somerset (the Levels, I think) which you can sort of see in the top photograph.

I hope that you had a lovely bank holiday weekend and enjoyed the sunshine, fingers crossed for lots more of it.

On a more serious note, today I have read that yet more people (at least 7 people) have been killed in a factory fire in Bangladesh. So incredibly sad and needless, I hope that there will be change in the fashion industry soon. Yesterday I wrote a post for Ethical Fashion Bloggers about How Fashion Bloggers Can Make a Difference. I would be really grateful for any shares or comments as I thing this is a really important issue and we can all help to prevent more tragedies.

As I included in the post here are a few things that you can do:

Join Ms Wandas 1% Campaign calling for companies to invest a minimum of 1% of theirprofits to ensure the human rights of garment workers are properly protected. You could also tell your readers about these campaigns. Facebook and blog badges and Twitter Avatars are also available at Ms Wandas.

Sign the petition Amirul Haque Amin, President National Garment Workers Federation in Bangladesh to ensure safety for workers & compensate victims of building collapse and the Clean Clothes Campaign petition telling brands to take responsibility and sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement then Share it through your social networks.

Write to the CEO’s of brands or contact them through Twitter and Facebook to ask them to take full responsibility for their supply chain ensure safety for those working in it.

With warmest wishes

Vogue Festival 2013

I have a pretty fun packed week with lots of birthday treats and celebrations. On Saturday I treated myself to a ticket to the ‘Can Fashion Change the World?’ talk at Vogue Festival. The Panel for the talk consisted of Livia Firth, Katherine Hamnett, Tom Craig and Vivienne and was hosted by Vogue features director Jo Ellison. The talk was entertaining informative, though provoking and inspiring in equal parts.

Each member of the panel talked with passion about how they though fashion could change the world and also how fashion related to a bigger picture. It became quite heated in parts with Vivienne Westwood insisting that she continue with her talk despite running out of time and blaming Vogue for not organising it properly!

Climate Revolution FlyerVivienne was keen to share information on the Climate Revolution, you can find out more here.

Unfortunately there was no time for questions, but I had wondered before the event how they were going to cover such a huge topic in such a short space of time. I have written a fuller review of the debate in my post Vogue Festival – Can Fashion Change the World?.

My favourite quote for the day came from Livia Firth

“Not only can fashion change the world, but it absolutely must”

Unfortunately the lighting and my poor photography skills prevented me from getting a photograph of the panel but you can check out more photos on the Vogue blog.

I also met up with the lovely Angela of Sasstainable and took the opportunity to chat ethical fashion, blogging and take some blogger pictures before and after the talk.

Vogue Festival

Vogue festival

Dress – SkunkFunk
Jacket – Rokit Vintage
Necklace – People Tree
Shoes – El Naturalista

I was lucky enough to have the whole day to spend in London so after a wander round to check out some of the amazing outfits, braid bar and Vogue covers on the wall, indulging in a extra stylish bottle of Coconut water and Vogue muffin, I headed out to check out the view from the bridge and made my way to Brick Lane to check out the vintage shops.

I hope that you had a good weekend.

With warmest wishes

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup

lalam041113

Picture Perfect

Whether it be styling the right outfit, looking good in glasses, or finding treasures in your closet, ultimately as fashion bloggers we share our fashion story. Through words or through photography, this roundup takes a closer look at making life more beautiful, fashion icons like Lilly Pulitzer who passed away over the weekend, Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli.. and the downward spiral of the house of Saint Laurent. What are we going to do to keep the world beautiful? Sustainable fashion and shopping our closets? And how will we document it.. there are fantastic photo tutorials in the mix to.

Enjoy!

Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup, April 11th

SPONSOR: New @Shopbop: 3×1, Alas, Star Mela, Beth Richards, Flogg, Moyna, Thierry Mugler, Ulla Johnson, Friends & Associates, Star Mela, & Stella McCartney Sunglasses

Is There a Sustainable Fashion Revolution Taking Place?

 Image - Vivienne Westwood Red Label

I have been blogging about (and wearing) ethical fashion for the last few years and whilst it is some thing that I strongly believe in, I have in the past felt a little on my own amongst not just the fashion blogger community but also often friends and family. Many of the events that I am invited to just don’t seem to relevant to my blog or the clothes that I wear. I have also wondered how seriously people take my blog, perhaps considering me to be slightly eccentric because I have never stepped foot in Primark (well not in the last 20 years anyway) and refuse to buy from Topshop

but…..

I am really starting to wonder if there is a sustainable fashion revolution starting to take place. Of course there have always been a hardcore of eco friendly and sustainability enthusiasts, charity shop and vintage addicts and make do and menders, but recently I have noticed not only a growing number of fashion blogs dedicated to sustainable style but also lots of fashion bloggers posting about related topics. Thrifting, swapping, buying less and upcycling, the results of which can be seen on outfit sharing and street style websites, all sit well with sustainability whilst also being very fashionable at the moment as well.

But it’s not just the bloggers that are talking about sustainability and fashion. Today, something happened that I really didn’t expect. H&M hosted a panel at Vogue headquarters about, guess what? ‘sustainability and fashion’. Before you condemn it as an act of green wash to promote their latest Concious Collection, I really did get the impression that H&M are really starting to take it all quite seriously (check out the video above for yourself). Putting aside my concerns over whether fast fashion could ever really be considered sustainable or ethical, I was pleased to see that H&M have dedicated the homepage of their website to promoting the Concious Collection and the live stream of the panel discussion. Definitely a step in the right direction and a high impact way of raising awareness amongst their customers. The panel featured Jasmin Malik Chua of Ecouterre, Bruno Pieters of honest by,Scott Mackinlay Hahn from Loomstate, fashion consultant Julie Gilhart as well as Helena Helmersson, global head of sustainability at H&M; Catarina Midby, head of fashion and sustainability communications at H&M. It was moderated by Simon Collin, the dean at The New School for Design at Parsons.

H & M have also taken the unprecedented (for a fast fashion chain) step of publishing their supplier list. Don’t get me wrong, there are still lots of issues, which have been well explained in Leena Oijala’s post for Ecosalon here. But things are definitely moving in the right direction no?

Over 400, 000 people have supported Greenpeace’s recent campaign’s to detox fashion. It had some really amazing results with brands like Zara and Levi’s committing to clean-up their supply chain and products. People (well some people anyway) are showing that they really care and the brands are starting to listen.


Image from www.fashioningchange.com

I have also seen some fantastic sustainable fashion brands and retailers popping up. Of course my own sustainable fashion website features about 140 innovative ethical and sustainable brands ( I never even realised there were that many!), many of them very affordable. There is also the much talked about Honest By, the worlds first 100% transparent company which launched in January. Brand founder and designer Bruno Pieters also just happens to create some pretty amazing fashion which I would definitely recommend checking out. Both Modavanti and Fashioning Change are also playing a key role in educating and increasing choice and accessibility of ethical and sustainable brands in the US.

And then there are the celebrities who are well known for their ability to influence fashion. Livia Firth and her Green Carpet Challenge has not only glamorised sustainable fashion, something that might have been considered distinctly lacking in glamour in the past but also got us all talking. Such a fantastic way to raise awareness. Dame Vivienne Westwood (pictured above) is an active campaigner for climate change and could not have summed it up better when she advised us to “Buy less, choose well”, a simple but high impact message that is sure to have reached many people.

And in the press, recent fashion weeks saw plenty of coverage of sustainable brands. Diesel recently celebrated their collaboration with ethical fashion brand EDUN by teaming up with Grazia Magazine to host an intimate dinner for bloggers. In the US Adriana Herrera, founder of Fashioning Change, has her own column in the New York times dedicated to ethical fashion. This years Vogue Fest also features a talk entitled ‘Can Fashion Change the World?’ and features Dame Vivienne Westwood, Livia Firth and Katherine Hamnett. I can’t wait!

I realise that fast fashion is still a big issue and that we have a long way to go. Also that there will always be those people that just couldn’t care less. But more than ever before, I think there is a revolution starting to happen.

So what do you think? are things moving in the right direction? do people really care less?  or am I just stuck in my happy little ethical fashion bubble? I would love to know your thoughts or experiences.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Ps if you are a UK Fashion Blogger and would like to join the revolution, you could try entering my sustainable fashion outfit competition.

Image – Vivienne Westwood Red Label

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Fashion Blogger’s Sustainable Outfit Competition

Sustainable fashion bloggers outfit competition

I hope that you had a lovely Easter. My was fairly relaxed if uneventful filled with walks in the freezing cold, lots of good food, wine and watching films. Never mind that we didn’t go camping as we usually do at Easter, at least we were warm!

I am running another sustainable fashion outfit competition over at style-is.co.uk, with £100 of Spartoo vouchers up for grabs for the winning entry. Spartoo have a fantastic range of eco and ethical shoes including Timberland, Swedish Hasbeens and Dream in Green.

The competition is the perfect opportunity to show off your sustainable style and inspire others at the same time. All you need to do is make an outfit which includes at least one sustainable piece of clothing or accessory (or though more than one is even better). You can make the outfit in real life and take a photograph  of yourself wearing it or create it using something like Polyvore. This could be a vintage, second hand thrifted or upcycled piece some thing by your favourite ethical brand. Full details of how to enter the competition can be found here.

Even if you don’t consider yourself to have sustainable style, you may be surprised by some of the amazing ethical brands that you find to create your outfit with. I would love to see your sustainable outfit and hope you will enter the competition.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

Story Behind the Brand – The Nakate Project

The Nakate ProjectThe Nakate Project was founded by Shanley Knox on returning to California after living in Uganda. The brand brings the beautiful work of East African artisans to high fashion with accessories for adventurous bold women (just like those who have made them).

Shanley was inspired by the stories her father told about objects collected when travelling and she began to collect her own wearable pieces from her travels, each one was imbued with memories and stories from the locations that she has visited. She used these accessories to introduce these stories and memories into her daily life.

‘Nakate’, the name of the project is associated with a memory that is particularly poignant for Shanley. Nakate was a nine year old girl that she met in a Ugandan village called Kakooge. She lived with her aunt,  a local prostitute after losing both her mother and father to Aids. It was Shanley’s desire to connect Nakate to the role models in her own society that lead to the Nakate Project and its business model of connecting African talent to women in remote villages to nourish artistic growth and development.  The Nakate project was launched after Shanley’s 21st birthday in collaboration with celebrity stylist Antonio Esteban and individual artisans in Uganda.

She hopes that each of the pieces of jewellery will act as a reminder to the wearer to express the adventurous, bold woman that lives in each of them and to use the unique aesthetic of the jewellery to celebrate a part of the world that teaches us to live more deeply!

The Nakate Project also works to create artisans in rural areas of Uganda that we see as previously untapped or undervalued. They help in providing income for women that are struggling to support themselves and, for many of them, the families that are relying on their income. The project also adheres to fair trade principles and environmentally friendly practices including maximizing the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources, buying locally where possible and encouraging our artisans to work in environments of their choosing – which are often in the open air.

This post is the first part of my new series Story Behind the Brand where I share with you the inspiring stories behind some amazing ethical fashion brands.

What do you think? do you love this story? I know I could definitely do with a little reminder to be adventurous and bold and live more deeply sometimes.

With warmest wishes

Ceri x

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