The Green Scene at London Fashion Week


Fashionistas are flocking to the UK for London Fashion Week. For the second year running, the best in fairly traded, environmentally friendly, and organic fashion is currently on show in its aptly named section, Estethica.

Signalling that sustainable fashion is not a passing fad (as so much in fashion is), this year the number of designers being showcased has risen from 13 to 28. Over the past 12 months, brands like Stewart & Brown, People Tree, Del Forte, Noir, Ciel, From Somewhere, and Terra Plana (all featured at Estethica) have grown exponentially, some opening own-label boutiques (From Somewhere, for example, in London’s Westbourne Park Road) and others reaching distant shores and mainstream tastes.

Yet none have become complacent or stopped innovating and improving their wares. Terra Plana, for instance, run by Galahad Clark (of Clarks footwear chain fame) continues to use corn husks in his shoes’ soles, and chrome-free and vegetable-tanned leathers. For SS08, the company has introduced a wearable-yet-funky sandal range and heels that have uppers made out of a new mesh material produced from recycled bottles. The shoes are remarkably lightweight too.

Of the newcomers, three had attendees buzzing. Northern brand Makepiece (shown at top of article) humorously calls itself “London Fashion Week’s first sheep farming fashion label” and was showing a delightful collection of sustainable knitwear and wovens. Beate Kubitz owns the sheep and buys in yarn from British farms; Nicola Sherlock designs the feminine and floaty shrugs, cardigans and wraps made from luxuriant Shetland wool; and recent arrival Manda Johnson-Holme creates seamless skirts, trousers, and a beautiful signature dress made from a combination of hemp, silk, and environmentally friendly, cellulose-based fiber Tencel®, and bound with hems made from vintage prints.

On to accessories. Though recent fashion graduate Henrietta Rose Samuels only set up her footwear label Hetty Rose (shown above) six months ago, she seems destined to find a firm place in the hearts and closets of eco fashionistas everywhere. Her SS08 collection features vintage kimonos for the uppers, wooden heels, and recycled leather soles. For the moment she makes every pair herself in her small workshop in Essex, but given the popular response her footwear has received, she’ll likely have to expand to keep up with demand.

Another name to keep an eye out for is Sonya Kashmiri (shown above). Her bags, belts, and purses are made from vegetable-tanned and recycled leathers in Portugal. Her current wares feature delicate laser imprints and her SS08 line (her second ever) have an undeniable “it” bag quality about them while being made from the softest chrome-free leather.

Giovanna Dunmall is a freelance writer based in the UK.  

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