Orsola de Castro - A Fashion Revolution Salon Series at Spring Restaurant, Somerset House
The beautiful Spring Restaurant is filled with soft peaches, pink cherry blossoms, marbled walls shimmering above Tuberose, and green trees wrapped in ice white twinkles. Under the softly lit shades, pink velvet chaise longue and clean, milky walls Spring Restaurant is headed by chef Skye Skye Gyngell, renowned for her elegant cooking. This evening, she has curated the 'Salon Series' and put together a 'Scratch' menu from food which would usually be discarded into waste, accompanied by pear and rhubarb bellinis.
The Salon Series talks was led by ethical fashion designer Orsola de Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution, a non-profit charity raising awareness of the true cost of fashion, accompanied by author and Telegraph columnist Tamsin Blanchard, Mario Nishio, Senior Lecturer at Central Saint Martins and the fashion designer, Katie Jones.
Orsola opens with 'we are drowning in our own waste'.
"If you wear a designer that works with recycled materials, you are leading the industry. We are what we wear and clothes are our chosen skin. If we are a vehicle of what we wear, then we can make the decision to change what we say, and inspire other people to join us on the journey'.
"We're physically and aesthetically bored of the gloss wash." Orsola comments on new designer Ashish's recent show at LFW, where the audience was apparently 'moved to tears' by his response to America's politics. Brand values matter more than ever - what we buy is more than 'this is a nice dress'. The 'wonky' aesthetic is having its moment. The 'irregular' style of individuality, roughness shining.
John Alexander Sketch celebrates imperfection - which people respond to. Orsola was deeply inspired by her grandmother, and inherited her clothes from Venice. 'Solutions, poetry, aesthetics, thinking, intellect, passion.'
The traditional fashion industry expects new designers to be stocked internationally, to be seeking to double their orders and production' why can't designers remain small and be celebrated?
' Tamsin - green is the new black. Solutions to problems. Orsola Estethica Emerging Talents reuse waste. '
40% of food that is produced worldwide is discarded before reaching the supply chain, because of imperfections, this is enough to feed 70 million. Discarded food matter, and discarded cattle meat accounts for 25% of methane gas emissions.
150 billion garments of clothing are produced every year. The aesthetic is driven by using what is discarded, and allowing for it to be accepted. Authenticity. People are everything, this is the power of fashion.
Katie Jones manufactures knitwear, with her mother Annie. Materials are sourced from designer surplus, factory seconds, textile waste and British made product. Traditional and detail intensive processes such as hand dying, crochet, embroidery, deconstruction, unravelling, hand sewing, hand punched leather work and domestic machine knitting mean every piece takes between 10 and 100 hours to make, resulting in a unique product each time. Her work has been lauded by Vice, Dazed, Vogue and fashionblogger Suzie Bubble amongst others. "People like the story of 'handmade' but not always the reality. People don't believe 'handmade' can be polished.' Manufacture is in limited numbers. 80% of young designers don't make it past 3 years, but when you are small your overheads are small. Overheads can crash and jump. Press is brilliant, but doesn't pay, clients take longer.
Young people have changed the way they shop. Katie has accessed all of her stockists through Instagram, as an opportunity to take, not 'designing into a void'. Upscaling is as biodiverse as a dinosaur. It takes lots of tiny designers that become a little big bigger. Professional designers are making and hiring - hugely disconnected fromfashion design to production. Big design houses are expected to produce in 2 weeks. 'Clothes pouring out everywhere' companies feel as if they have to make more and more money. Intimate creative solutions to huge challenges. The fashion industry in Italy makes clothes that weren't very expensive. 'Today I am aware' - make decisions. Instead of 'I'm looking for something new' try 'I'm looking for something old'. Positive change, the sustainable fashion movement starts in the UK. Let go and collaborate. Every single individual can tweet directly to the brands and have a response. The Fashion Revolution begins in 98 countries from 24 - 30th April. #whomademyclothes. Transparency index - publishing supply chain growing experimentally. The brand is not just 'looking good; but doing good. PLatforms - for young designers, pop up shop, displays, young designers work together on curated platforms. Offset warehouses. Advice: get to know the people you are working with. Follow your waste stream - through the supply chain. We are bombarded with 'needing more'. A beautiful lady in a white top mentions a 'spiritual void' - value experience more than possession.
From a personal perspective - I would also like to outline that is is important to consider material costs to small and developing businesses, and ensure that every one is the supply chain is paid a quality working wage. As a creative entrepeneur with lengthy experience in the artistic and fashion industries, I am drawn to sustainable venture capitalism and holistic growth, I would like to see the government and local businesses supported in operating their business models and receive financial support - i.e. assistance with sales and marketing, reduction in business rates and guidance to ensure that workers in the creative industries in the UK and EU, as well as abroad are not exploited. This is turn could offer more jobs in the public sector. Creative businesses should be encouraged and and allowed to flourished in their diversity. Bigger business could also benefit from the shared discipline and excitement of innovative, applied art with a view to incorporating a radical, even disruptive business model demanding greener practices and recycling of waste. I am inspired to seeing how small, medium - and large scale business can use their voices and encourage their business model to make a reparation.