Last night, I attended the launch of streetwear gatekeepers Highsnobiety’s first book launch. It got me thinking about the ways in which the culture of early streetwear parallels today’s ethical fashion movement.
At their purest, streetwear movements have allowed participants to express what they believe through what they wear. As Highsnobiety editor Jian put it, “There is a reverence for brands, designers and the stories behind products. That has come from decades of communities both online and offline. Of people united by a shared love of product...There’s always been people who are galvanized by a shared love of things." The relaxed look of 70's skatewear, for example, was a rebellion against the overly conservative norms of the 60's.
The ethical fashion movement allows those of us who are frustrated with society's lack of response to climate change and human exploitation to take back a degree of control on how our clothes are made. Individually we may not have the power to change the entire system but the decision to wear ethically-minded brands is a way for us to outwardly express our disquiet in the hopes of inspiring a more conscious society across the board.
In recent years the commercialisation of streetwear has led some to say it has lost its edge. Wearing skatewear today is less about making a rebel statement and more about fitting in with the crowd. Go to a skatepark and you'll see that some of that 90's self expression seems to have been lost in a sea of Supreme and Dickies t-shirts.
Skate culture went mainstream and it's an encouraging thought to think that the ethical fashion movement could do too. As the movement grows we must ensure it stays true to its values.
Brothers We Stand Founder
Thanks to Karlo Wild for taking the video.
“Special attention was paid to the chain of production in the exhibition. Photo and video documentation follow Burks’ designs from their inception on draftpaper straight through to the production of a physical object. The inclusion of this material, along with the visibility of the Sengalese craftspeople actually working in the museum, provided commentary on specificity in a global age. Confronted with a transparent take on the realities of manufacturing - one of open and attentive collaboration - the audience might see the possibility of becoming more interested in the processes that shape what they buy.”
Africa Rising, Gestalten & Design Indaba
Mbuki Mvuki is an idiom from the Bantu people of Africa, literally meaning "to shake off your clothes to dance more freely".
Idioma designer, Seth Bank’s print is inspired by the way Bantu artists depict movement, through the use of simple outlined figures. Whilst working on his interpretation Seth became frustrated as he felt he wasn’t capturing the essence of "Mbuki Mvuki". This led to a change of medium, "I was drawing again and again the same shapes and getting a little frustrated with the permanent line of my pen, it just wasn’t going in the right direction. I wanted to free things up a little and so I started making shapes, cutting them out of paper. A cut-out was made for each shape, they were put together and the design came into focus."
Shop Seth's unique screen-printed organic t-shirts and sweatshirts here.
I love the questions that cultural theorist Daniel Bruggeman's video provokes. Is a more human approach to fashion possible? Can we engage with fashion in a more fulfilling manner?
A while back, IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Steve Howard, spoke at a climate conference to explain how Western society is reaching ‘Peak Stuff.’ The average consumer’s home, bulging with all the materials and goods it needs, has reached tipping point. While our hunger for meaning and purpose remains, we are losing our appetite for buying more and more things.
Can the fashion industry respond to these changing tastes with a richer, more satisfying experience? Can it address our deeper human needs such as the desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves or to find meaning?
Bruggeman suggests that by engaging with the power of fashion to create sustainable livelihoods we could enjoy a more gratifying experience. By seeking out clothes that have been ethically and sustainably produced, we could become active participants in the creation of a fashion industry that we actually believe in, and perhaps this agency, and the unadultered satisfaction that would accompany it, could as Bruggeman puts it, come to be known as the “new luxury”.
What would a more human and engaged approach to fashion look like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.
Brothers We Stand Founder
Daniel Bruggeman's reflections on the future of fashion form part of the State of Fashion Exhibition, 7 weeks of events in Arnhem, Netherlands, searching for the new luxury.
We’re delighted to share re:sustain's debut collection, combining unique cuts with high quality sustainable fabrics. The London based label brings a fresh aesthetic to the sustainable menswear scene.
Founding partners Prama Bhardwaj and Matt Peters bring many years of experience in clothing manufacturing and it shows in the quality of their garment construction. These are well made pieces with a lovely hand feel.
Shop the debut re:sustain collection made with 100% organic cotton here.View full article →
A lovely short message from Deputy Executive Director of United Nations Environment Program, Ibrahim Thiaw of Mauritania with an exclusive mix from Kenneth Bager - Music for Dreams.
Owen Jones wears Brothers We Stand recycled red sweatshirt for The Guardian.
"Spending an afternoon trying on clothes normally strikes me as about as enjoyable as a night out with Ukip’s youth wing… When my Guardian colleagues asked me to do a photoshoot as a gay man who doesn’t exude style, I was a bit bemused. But, weirdly, I quite enjoyed wearing clothes that looked good and fit me. I doubt I will be crowned Britain’s most stylish man any time soon. But there’s nothing wrong with priding yourself on how you look; it turns out it doesn’t make you some superficial bourgeois traitor. Don’t expect me to start embracing Gucci socialism, but maybe I’ll stop treating shopping as a slightly less enjoyable exercise than dental surgery. You can want to change the world without looking like a dishevelled paper boy."
Read the full interview with Owen here.
Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Two years of research and development have resulted in the first ever flip-flops made from 100% recycled materials. Working closely with the La Rioja Footwear Technology Centre, Ecoalf have developed a process capable of moulding rubber particles from recycled tires without using any adhesives or harmful chemicals. This means that in contrast to other flip-flops produced from up-cycled materials, the Ecoalf flip-flops are 100% pure recycled rubber.
Order your sustainable flip flops here.
Click below to learn more about the production process.View full article →