Masters Of… Driving Change
Back in 2019, Browns embarked on a very important mission: to reduce our impact on the planet. Fast forward two years and this mission has become all the more essential, with the events of 2020 further highlighting the importance of sustainability and community in our day-to-day lives. Against the backdrop of anxiety-inducing world events, we gravitated towards easy-to-wear, ethically-made clothing, championing brands who are on a mission to make things better.
Guided by Good On You - our partner and source for all sustainable fashion brand ratings - we’re shining a spotlight on a selection of names who are driving change and making a positive impact. The good news for those of us on a path to eco-consciousness? With SS21 comes an abundance of noteworthy collections that are not only working hard for your wardrobe, but the world too.
Self-care is even more enjoyable when the products are 100% recycled and have Mother Nature’s seal of approval. Whether you’re partial to a ‘green shave’ or a clean shave, then you should add HANDLE to your daily grooming regime. The beauty brand’s individual sets include a hairbrush and mirror, or a razor and toothbrush, but if you’d like them all, then the full grooming kit is perfect for you.
Whilst offering stylish grooming solutions, HANDLE also takes aim at the beauty industry’s reputation as a major plastic polluter, collecting unused packaging from salons, barbers, and beauty and hair care brands. They then either return these to the packaging manufacturers, or breathe new life into the materials to create their own products. Founders Steve and Tom can’t tackle these big problems all on their own, so they’re asking us all to work together to get a handle on the situation. We’re in, are you?
Do you have a penchant for pieces that are steeped in history and storytelling? It’s time to get better acquainted with By Walid. The past meets the present at Walid Damirji’s namesake label, where fragments of history are woven into modern silhouettes, allowing an intergenerational collaboration between craftsmen and artisans from different eras. Through his patchworked masterpieces, By Walid brings a whole new meaning to the old adage of “history repeats itself”, bringing you wardrobe heirlooms with rich heritages to pass down for generations to come.
Formerly the Creative Director of Joseph and renowned for his use of repurposed textiles, Damirji creates one-of-a-kind, sustainable couture pieces from patchworks of rescued antique fabrics sewn together. This season you’ll find jackets meticulously handcrafted from intricately embroidered Chinese silk, as well as hats made up of patchworks of repurposed shirting and bags showcasing 19th-century embroidery.
This season also sees the brand launching homeware - very good news for your interiors. Decorative pouffes and cushions showcase 17th, 18th and 19th-century Victorian and Flemish tapestries, and chairs echo the intricate patchwork designs that the brand is renowned for. Whilst we’re all spending a little more time inside, there’s no better moment to invest in By Walid’s soft furnishings and furniture.
Designer Bethany Williams has been busy in lockdown, designing and producing her whole new season collection from her flat in East London. She also held virtual drawing sessions with mothers and children via non-profit organization The Magpie Project, whose sketches were transformed into textiles by illustrator Melissa Kitty Jarram, and form the centrepiece of her SS21 collection (available soon at Browns).
Empowering the people she works with at the London-based charity - which supports mothers living in temporary accommodation with young dependants - Bethany’s ‘All Our Children’ collection is inspired by their lives and explores the importance of family spirit in a child’s life. Speaking to Vogue last year, the designer explained: “‘All our children’ is a phrase that says we have a collective responsibility for our next generation. It’s looking at how the world is borrowed from our children; thinking about that in a sustainability sense, but also in a human sense.”
Not only an advocate for humanitarian aid, Bethany was granted the 2019 Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in recognition of her support for sustainability. This season, she delved even deeper into the realms of ethical fabrics and upcycling with her team. Coats are crafted from vegan leather, whilst jackets, jeans and shirts feature recycled denim, and T-shirts are woven from organic cotton. Joggers have been made from recycled tracksuits, and the footy top is a patchwork of upcycled adidas sportswear. Spearheading the campaign for a brighter future for all, this driving force for change is certainly one to keep a close eye on.
Calling all eco-conscious sneakerheads! Veja are serving up retro-inspired, sustainably-made sneakers with soul. ‘Veja’ translated from Portuguese-Brazilian into English means ‘look’; the Paris-based label is encouraging you to look behind the aesthetics to discover what your shoes are made from. You’ll know exactly what you’re stepping into, as each pair is crafted from upcycled plastic bottles and raw materials sourced from organic, fair trade farming. In organic cotton and vegan leathers with fresh, minimalist hues, this season’s iconic V-logoed styles offer endless styling opportunities.
Childhood friends Sébastien Kopp and François Morillion sit at the helm, united in their desire to create coveted kicks that respect the environment and the people at every point in the supply chain. Their journey started in 2005, when the best friends decided to travel around the globe discovering their prospective production line first hand. From nuclear plants in China, to solar panel specialists in South Africa, to organic cotton growers in Amazonia, and finally ending at a rubber cooperative on the border between Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil.
Even though Sébastien and François had no prior fashion knowledge, they found the whole process remarkably straightforward. As Sébastien stated matter-of-factly in a 2019 Vogue interview: “Because when you do the things you love, it’s easy. We’ve always been interested in building something more balanced than the current capitalism.” We say: enjoy getting your kicks with a clear conscience.
Looks like the path to eco-consciousness is a stylish one. A case in point: these SS21 collections. Let our driving forces for change be your guides on the path to a brighter - and more sustainable - fashion future.
Words by Sophy Davis Russell
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