‘I want to be sustainable but I don’t want to be a tree you know!’
Was a quote from a conversation between two fashion design students that I overheard whilst still studying at London College of Fashion. Even if I can’t recall who these students were for me this really summed up the stereotypes sustainable fashion faces. It feels like for the young generation of designers the interest is there but it has to be both – quality in design and quality in production. This is when I met Marta Gos and Martyna Sobczak two London College of Fashion alumni and designers behind London based brand Lapidarium. By setting up a sustainable and ethical brand straight out of university they confirmed my theory. Designers explained that they became fully aware that sustainable production is the future and therefore the only way to go forward.
This link between us being recent graduates from a major fashion university made me curious about their experiences on how fashion design course addresses sustainable maters in its curriculum and does it at all?
“LCF is actually one of the colleges that has the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and they have a collaboration with Kering and that is how we got involved” tells the designers.
“We were attending those talks when possible but you have to have your own eagerness as a student because it is not in the curriculum.” However, Marta and Martyna would quickly underline that every course would benefit from having an ingrained lectures around sustainability. This would give an advantage to the students in a world that is moving towards more innovative and sustainable production. Sadly, even though LCF markets itself as being in the forefront when it comes to sustainability from a personal experiences we would all agree that as students we are not encouraged to profoundly reflect on these matters.
In contrast to what is conventionally thought at universities both designers explain that as a sustainable brand their design process is very research driven and starts with a fabric. “We are a small brand and fabrics and textiles are at the core of being ethical and sustainable. What we have is a power to see how textiles are made, where it is made and we get to meet people directly. We are going to the mills instead of just buying and not knowing how the fabrics are dyed or made. Sourcing sustainable fabrics is definitely harder but it is also more exciting especially with the new technologies coming”.
Marta explains: “We want to create something really interesting and very colourful because I think there is this kind of convention on how eco fashion has to be with these earthy colours. It is just a shame and we can do differently.”
They tell that: “Recycled is difficult one as well because whenever people hear it they think it is made of trash but our fabrics that are made of recycled materials look nothing like waste”. Designers tell that technologies are more advanced than people would think. “We are getting feedback that our materials are really nice and when we explain the story behind them people tell us they would have never thought that it is recycled”. Lapidarium uses various recycled fabrics and organic fabrics that are sourced from mills based in the UK, Italy and France.
“Everything is made here in the UK. But that is why the price point is higher”. They mention that they have been considering to move the production to Poland where they both come from to lower the price point. “It used to be quite big market for production of clothing. It is also really good to support locality in that way”.
Designers also argue that there is a misconception that we should not make garments in non-western countries whilst highlighting that “it is a tricky thing because millions of people support their living from making clothes for the west but it has to be regulated and it is not that these countries are bad. They also have skilled workers, they have machines but there are just really bad people behind it”.
Through our conversation we came to a conclusion that western countries should apply legislative rules to companies that are making garments there but wish to sell in the west.
Talking to Marta and Martyna left me with a bizarre feeling that our paths could have crossed before whilst still studying at London College of Fashion. We all were curious about sustainability and the future of the fashion industry but we would have never imagined that less then a year later we would meet and sit here whilst contemplating on how to disrupt the whole industry.
LAPIDARIUM | womenswear
SUSTAINABILITY | They use organic, recycled and innovative fabrics sourced from UK, Italy and France.
ETHICS | garments are ethically made in UK