Saturday, 30 June 2012

Topshop to launch 'Made in Britain' capsule collection

Supporting home-grown manufacturing is an important part of shopping more ethically and now doing so is that much easier thanks to Topshop.  This July a ‘Made In Britain’ capsule collection arrives, featuring some seriously stylish winter coats, designed, cut from British cloth and produced in the east end of London. 
Military Great Coat, £275
The eight classic styles have been updated with modern features, with an interesting combination of fabrics. The double tweed parka merges herringbone and Prince of Wales check, while the boyfriend Crombie is tweed alongside blended cashmere and virgin wool. The classic Biker is re-invented in a longer shape in Melton wool.  

With such clout, Topshop can really make an impact on British business and is in a unique position to showcase our wonderful wares to the world - let's hope this is the start of something big.

The collection will be available from July onwards, in Oxford Circus, New York and online at

Saturday, 23 June 2012

What is upcycling?

As ethical fashion evolves, so does the terminology used to describe the different ways in which you can shop! Upcycling is becoming ever more popular, so much so that Topshop has recently launched a collection in partnership with Reclaim to Wear. But are you totally au fait with what it involves? Here Charlotte Bobeldijk, the founder of Grassroots Fashion tells us all about it, and talks us through the process she follows when making items for her gorgeous collection.

What exactly is upcycling?
Upcycling is a term used to describe the process of taking an item or a number of items, such as a piece of furniture, a collection of old trinkets or clothing and producing a new item of higher value than the original. In clothing this means taking a garment which is no longer valued because it is unfashionable or undesirable and using any number of techniques from embellishment to total reconstruction to transform the garment into something desirable and as a result, increasing its.

Where does the idea come from?
People have been 'upcycling' for a long time, way before the term 'upcycling' was assigned to it. In the past, when fashion was not as readily accessible as it is today, women often used upcycling as a way of keeping up with fashion without blowing the budget. Women's magazines would often feature articles on how to transform a garment such as a plain shirt by adding new sleeves or a collar.

What inspired you to start a business based on it?
The decision to start Grassroots was influenced by the impact fashion has on the environment. I strongly believe that the world simply cannot support the speed at which we consume goods. Fashion has become extremely fast paced and uses such a huge amount of the earths resources. We cannot continue consuming in this way, or if we do we will (as we have already) see disastrous consequences in the environment. Upcycling provides a way for us to satisfy our desire for new fashions, but without using new materials at the cost of the environment.

How do you see upcycling impacting postitively on the world?
Currently in the UK, we throw away 1.4 million tonnes of clothing every year. And then we head to the high street to replace all the stuff we've thrown out with new clothes which we will eventually throw out once we're bored of them and so the cycle of waste continues. Upcycling clothing stops this cycle as instead of throwing the clothes out, they are re-worked into something new. If more people donate their clothes and buy upcycled clothing we can dramatically reduce our waste and we would also be much less of a drain on the earths resources.

What are the steps you take to turn an old piece of clothing into something new and desirable?
At Grassroots we produce clothing that provides women with an ethical alternative to the high street. Each garment is individual and reflects the current fashion trends so this is where each upcycling project starts. We have mood boards highlighting key trends, colours, sillhouettes and details for the season and this forms the basis for the upcycling inspiration. We then find a suitable garment to transform from our stock of donated clothing and work out how best to work with the garment. If the fabric is great we will use that, but perhaps transform the sillhouette, or if the shape and fit is ideal, but the design is lack lustre we may embellish it or add a detail such as a new collar. The garment tends to dictate what is done. Each piece is individually re-designed and upcycled so no two garments will be the same. Here's an example of some of the upcycling work we do at Grassroots.

Who's your customer?
Grassroots wants to encourage women to break free from the high street! We understand that the high street enables people to dress fashionably without spending a fortune and this is very appealing. However as we all know, the real cost of high street fashion may not be in our purses, but the much higher cost of our environment. Grassroots provides fashionable clothing which reflects the current trends, at affordable prices, with the added bonus that each piece is unique and not harming the environment. The Grassroots customer is an intelligent, independent woman who likes to express her individuality through her appearance and is not afraid to break away from the high steet!

Find Grassroots on ASOS Marketplace or

Friday, 22 June 2012

Showstopper style at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot proved once again that it's riding high in the fashion stakes with its annual fashion show. Featuring an array of superstar designer talent, the crowd was treated to current and retrospective faves from Amanda Wakeley, Giles, Vivienne Westwood and Todd Lynn, followed by milliner Stephen Jones' incredible creations. Against a backdrop of thundering hooves and flowing champagne, the effect was pretty special!
Vivienne Westwood
Giles Spring 2012

Monday, 11 June 2012

Topshop introduces upcycled collection with Reclaim to Wear

A new (extremely tempting) capsule collection from Reclaim to Wear and Topshop launches on Friday, 15th June. The upcycled line is made entirely from off-cuts, discarded materials and surplus stock and is available at

The collection includes a tiered blouse in mixed fabrics, a colour-block panel maxi dress and a range of denim pieces including ombre-bleached boy-shorts and a slouchy denim rucksack - all crying out for a stomp around a festival.  
The brains behind Reclaim to Wear are Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci, who since 2011 have helped retailers to understand the impact of the waste they generate. By developing upcycled concept lines, Reclaim to Wear has ensured that large amounts of fabric, which would have been thrown away, is no longer landfill. 

The textiles and fashion industry is one of the world's biggest polluters so Reclaim to Wear is making a positive impact by slowing down unnecessary textile production.

Creative Director Orsola de Castro, and Managing Director Filippo Ricci are also the founders and curators of Estethica, The British Fashion Council eco-sustainable initiative at the heart of London Fashion Week.

Find out more at

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Q&A with Zaeem Jamal

Zaeem Jamal is on a mission to bring spirituality into fashion by using energy-enhancing crystals alongside luscious fabrics in his stunning designs. His sense of purpose drives a commitment to support numerous charities through his label including, among others, the British-based Miracles which aims to bring hope and help to those in need, and Focus Humanitarian Assistance, a collective of agencies that provide emergency relief to those in the developing world.

As seen at his AW12 showcase recently at Claridge's, the latest collection thrums with the wearable glamour and style that are the label's hall-marks, offering key pieces from sheer chiffon dresses and silk gowns through to stylish separates.  Here founder Zaeem Jamal reveals his thoughts behind his brand...

The man himself
Describe Zaeem Jamal in three words...
Design alchemy in motion (sorry its 4 but 'in' is just a preposition!)

Where does your design inspiration come from? 
Every collection draws upon different inspirations. AW12 is inspired by Ancient Egypt and over various trips to the Nile Delta over the last year, I derived all my inspiration from within the temples and monuments of this mystical and magical civilisations.

Who would your dream person be to design for? 
Someone that's been wearing black every day for far too long to see the expression on their face and amazing explosion of life when we put some colours on them! :-)

What efforts do you make to operate in an ethical way now and in the future? 
Every aspect of the brand takes into account a wide range of ethics and core values. From the roots at the production stage all the way through to how we use profits to finance a wide variety of charitable projects in the UK and abroad, it really is a wide spectrum. As we move forward we are planning to take our materials one stage further by partnering with mines that only extract crystals in limited quantities and in less harmful ways, and on the other end of the spectrum we have some amazing affiliations with UK charities such as Young Epilepsy and the Childrens Trust happening.

Are there any ethical business owners you admire and why? 
On a global level I admire Richard Branson as there are so many interesting and diverse projects that the Virgin group supports and just to name one example how the airline division has been leading the way in reducing waste targets through to building schools as well as the choice of products such as the charitable 'one' water! On a personal level I admire my father who is a business owner and has always supported a diverse range of causes and maintained high ethical standards in his industry with serious compliance procedures, and I guess this is what has inspired me along the way so much!

What do you see the future holding for the label? 
The future is very exciting as so far we have just released a small taste of what's to come. On the retail side we have more stores in development, on the collection side we have bridal launching next month, accessories are in store now, and mens will launch later this year along with more separates for women. This is only 2012, so you can imagine what's to come in 2013 and beyond!!

To learn more about Zaeem Jamal visit

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Visit Essence, the ethical jewellery pavilion at Treasure 2012

Penelope Pendant by CRED
Everyone loves a bit of bling but the shine is somewhat tarnished when you think of the negative effect the gold mining industry has, both socially and environmentally. Fear not fellow magpies; following the launch of the world’s first responsibly mined Fairtrade and Fairmined gold from South America last year by the Fairtrade Foundation and Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), next week sees an exhibition of the very best new ethical collections.

Leading ethical jewellery designers Cred Jewellery, Candescent, Linnie McLarty, Erica Sharpe and Jon Dibben are showcasing their latest Fairtrade and Fairmined gold collections alongside other jewellers at Essence, the ethical jewellery pavilion at Treasure, Somerset House, 14-17 June 2012, as part of London Jewellery Week.

As a platform for pioneering exhibitors from the very best in contemporary jewellery design, expect visionary design and cutting-edge technology. All the pieces are imprinted with the Fairtrade and Fairmined Mark, the stamp of reassurance that the miners are getting a better deal.

Now in its fifth year, Treasure is open to the public from Thursday 14 June.  Tickets priced from £8 (concessions).
 'Jealous much?' Ring by Linnie McLarty (100% recycled silver with 18ct eco gold plating)
How is Fairtrade and Fairmined gold different?
All Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is mined from small-scale and artisanal mines in a way that seeks to reduce dependence on harmful chemicals. Good news for mining communities in South America and good news for the people who live and mine there.

What difference does it make?
People living in the isolated Peruvian community of Santa Filomena high in the Andes mountains have already reaped the benefits when Sotrami, the first Peruvian mining organisation to be certified, began working with Cred Jewellery. Thanks to the Fairtrade premium, the community invested in healthcare, built an extension to the primary school and bought computers for the senior school. They opened a not-for-profit convenience store which means the 500-strong community can buy food at reasonable prices.

The Fairtrade Foundation is currently working with 45 jewellers in the UK, with supplies of gold set to increase further. Thanks to a grant of over £820,000 from Comic Relief over the next three years, the Fairtrade Foundation and ARM will be partnering with Fairtrade Africa and Solidaridad to develop gold supplies from artisanal and small-scale miners in Africa.

For more information visit

Friday, 1 June 2012

Walpole 'Brands of Tomorrow' announced

From the SS12 collection by Aravore
Eight UK companies have been named 'Brands of Tomorrow' in the annual list by Walpole, the luxury brands trade body. Several have strong ethical policies proving once again that socially and environmentally-aware business is the future. Now in its sixth year, the list highlights the brands that Walpole believe have the potential to become global leaders in their field.

Included are:
Aravore, an award-winning designer childrenswear brand that offers a unique range of high quality, beautiful pieces with a contemporary-retro aesthetic, already highly coveted in and out of the UK. Each piece stays true to the brand's core values of design, craftsmanship, quality and sustainability and is hand-crafted by a single seamstress in fairtrade conditions who signs the swing tag in order to create a direct link between the artisan and the wearer. The team has a hand in every step of the production process, from the sourcing of the (rain-irrigated) organic cotton and organic merino wool through to the knitting, sewing and finishing that happens at Aravore's own workshop in Paraguay

Elvis & Kresse creates stunning lifestyle accessories by re-engineering seemingly useless wastes. The raw material for their principle range is genuine decommissioned British fire brigade hoses which were otherwise destined for landfill. 50% of profits from Elvis & Kresse's fire hose line are donated to the Fire Fighters Charity.

Demarquette Fine Chocolates is a brand that lives by a simple formula the founders call TLC - Quality in Taste, Quality in Life for producers and Quality in Cultivation. They take all necessary steps to ensure no child-labour is involved in any part of the production or cultivation process of their cocoa. To avoid any ambiguity they now blend their own chocolate from single estate plantation to country origin level, and they also actively support campaigns for improvement.

Other brands featured include Field Candy, makers of design-led tents, Lily and Lionel, a luxury scarf label, Lucas Hugh, style-led sports wear, Patterson Boatworks, the makers of stunning bespoke yachts and Vivien Sheriff, the multi-award winning milliners.

The eight will be taken through a cycle of educational workshops and given bespoke business mentoring, including one-to-one meetings with some of the UKs most experienced luxury entrepreneurs.

Julia Carrick, CEO of Walpole, said: “The Walpole Brands of Tomorrow programme continues to nurture and support small upcoming British brands, providing them with valuable guidance from industry experts and helping them to become leaders in their field in years to come."

For more information see