Maravillas Bags: Eco-Leather Handbags from Mallorca to Match Your Summer Style

Deciding to embrace the slowness that makes quality happen is what made Christina Bussmann, founder of Maravillas Bags, swap the world of fast-paced fashion making in Berlin for diligently crafting handbags in Mallorca, Spain.

By Hanna-Amanda Pant

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My Made in Box: The Season's Must-Have Subscription Gift Box Spreading the Heritage of Global Makers

With a focus on bringing more visibility to local artisans and makers from a global city or region at the time, My Made in Box aims to cherish local production and preserve the heritage of independent designers and makers all around the world.

By Hanna-Amanda Pant

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Woolenstocks: Traditional Felt Slippers Supporting Women’s Empowerment in the Himalayas

Woolenstocks is a London-based company with a mission to empower women of Kyrgyzstan, offering them a way to support their families by hand-making traditional felt slippers. A craftsmanship that stems from ancient Nomadic times of the Kyrgyz makes for unique creations that warm your feet and your heart.

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#ConsciousLiving: Interview with Jennie Barck, Editor-in-Chief of The Maker Journal

Celebrating the contemporary makers of today, The Maker Journal supports slower fashion production and craftsmanship, and focuses on the skilled designers and creatives who dedicate their lives to making this change.

I had a friendly chat about conscious living and the importance of artisanal crafts with Jennie Barck, Founder of The Maker Journal, confirming that slow fashion is the new fashion model to be appreciated for years to come. This may make you rethink, too. 

Jennie Barck

Who are the most important makers in the UK now?

The UK has a variety of local, emerging makers at the moment, producing their collections at their studios with a small team, or at local factories, producing textiles with fabric mills. I have been the most impressed by young, emerging designers, such as Amy Revier and Skelton John, who tell a story through their poetic and well thought out designs that are radically sustainable: naturally dyed, handmade in small batches, using local raw materials, or handwoven. It is always lovely to see designers succeeding in their niche markets this way. On the other hand, it is also inspiring to see larger, globally successful brands, such as Phoebe English, still making everything locally in England, with a focus on hand-making and resurrecting traditional craft.

The Maker Issue I

What does 'Made in England's heritage actually mean in 2017? Are we slowly starting to forget about its importance and value?

It means different things to different people, but most designers I have spoken to are very passionate about the topic. 'Made in England's heritage means using the resources we have available here, while we still have them, it means adding a layer of value to the garments, being able to control the entire manufacturing process and therefore being able to guarantee quality to a larger extent. It also means exploring traditional crafts that could lend way to new approaches to the garments we are currently wearing. All of these things tend to slip off our minds if we are not reminded about it in our daily lives, like most people working in the fashion industry are. Consumers don’t think these factors are as important when buying items that are cheap; it has become more important to keep up with the latest trends and have them easily accessible, so ‘Made in England’ has become a thing that very few care about today.

Why should artisanal approach still be appreciated in today's era of mass production and mass consumption?

I think an artisanal approach is important from the perspective of the story of the brand; it is important there are still people out there who appreciate these crafts, knowing where their products are made - from yarn to an actual garment. When a brand becomes more transparent about their entire product chain and makes it a pillar of their ethos, it adds value to the garment. People are willing to pay for it, as long as they know their garments are made with respect to local communities and workers. If there is no one employing people at mills in England, for example, their craft is going to be forgotten and there won't be anyone to resurrect it after that. It is too precious of a thing to lose, as it is such an integral part of culture in many parts of the world.

What is The Maker Journal's manifesto? What makes it stand out from other publications also appreciating unique, hand-made fashions and a slower approach to life?

The Maker Journal stands for celebrating the people who are passionate about creating our clothes. It is, first and foremost, about bringing them to the spotlight instead of the people who wear the clothes; it focuses on their processes, thoughts and lives. What makes it stand out from other publications - The Maker has an unfailing ethos that all designers we support must match our criteria of conscious fashion, as well as having a focus on smaller scale, emerging and young designers instead of big brands. The Maker hopes to bring to attention to designers who are not in the public eye as much as they deserve to be, and have more intimate conversations with them that you don’t see in most mass media.

"When you are doing something you believe in, in due course people will flock to you, if you are putting your heart and soul into it."

The Maker Journal. 

The Maker Journal. 

What have been the most difficult moments in making The Maker Journal happen? Share a few tips on how to make dreams happen.

There are always bumps along the way when you are trying to reach a dream, and when it is something you are utterly passionate about, it can be even more devastating. Along the road, when I was doing research and saw people doing similar things, I sometimes felt like there is so much I still have to do to achieve that level of success. You will get the feeling that people are not going to find you or you have less followers than the next person. These are all things that will fall into place. The most important thing that I learned throughout the process and from my conversations with other creatives is that, when you are doing something you believe in, in due course people will flock to you, if you are putting your heart and soul into it.

How do you personally approach slow living? Are there any practices you follow on a daily basis?

Slow living has become a very important aspect of my life through working on The Maker, but it has always played a crucial part. To me the main pillars of it are only buying things that I have considered and truly need, purchasing magazines and enjoying timeless features and think-pieces, taking time off social media and reducing its usage, appreciating crafts and the process of making, doing yoga and eating well from local farmer’s markets. These are all things I will do on a daily basis, when the pace of life gets a little overwhelming, and I feel that I just need to get back in touch with myself and reconnect. Life can sweep you up and push information at you constantly, but there is a decision to be made about not letting it get to you.

"When things take longer, you automatically go into a mindset, where you appreciate a certain process; you think about the tools being used, the hours that go into it, the different skill sets, the people working on it."

The Maker Journal. 

The Maker Journal. 

What are the key elements defining your daily routine? 3 habits you cannot live without.

I have always and will probably eat a lot of fruits; it is the cornerstone of my eating habits and a day without fruits just wouldn’t feel the same. I will have kiwis, clementines, nectarines, plums, oranges, bananas, apples, grapes. It makes me feel rejuvenated and fresh. I will try to go to the gym most days and if I do manage, after a good session of sweating, I love to take a cold shower and go into the sauna and just disconnect for 15 minutes. Another obsessive habit I (along with millions of others) have is listening to music on public transport. I like to use city bikes whenever possible, but when I’m on a bus or tube, I absolutely have to listen to my favourite tunes.

"It has become more important to keep up with the latest trends and have them easily accessible, so ‘Made in England’ has become a thing that very few care about today."

In your opinion, what are the key fields that should be slowed down concerning the making or production process?

Out of all fields, what strikes me the most on a daily basis are food and fashion, but I have recently started thinking about interior design, too. It is so frustrating to see how fast fashion has to be pumped up, and how much of it is wasted as a consequence of that. To see people participating in this cycle makes me think of how much needs to be done to make any kind of minor change. These are critical fields that are not working sustainably at the moment, but there are things being changed, for example, in France, they banned throwing away leftover food, which I think is a wonderful solution. The best solution, however, would be to change the minds of the consumers, and make them realise the detrimental outcomes of this kind of consumption, that would bring us closer to a change. 

What's the worst effect of today's consumer society you have personally witnessed?

What I witness on a daily basis is our need to get things now, without appreciating all the hard work that goes into making things happen. We all want the easy, quick fix that doesn’t satisfy us for long, but gets rid of that desire in a split second. When everything is given to us as ‘same day delivery’, we fail to stop and appreciate the people who have made that happen. When things take longer, you automatically go into a mindset, where you appreciate a certain process; you think about the tools being used, the hours that go into it, the different skill sets, the people working on it. This appreciation is a key part of the success of the slow fashion movement, and it is an antidote to mass production and throwaway culture, which has affected today’s consumer society in major ways.

One must-have summer product du jour we should all desire now... Something trendy, yet ethically-made?

I’ve been looking for the perfect summer sandals and the LRNCE bobo sandals come very close to that. Handmade to order in Morocco, with influences from handcraft traditions, each pair is as unique as its maker and they are completely contemporary, too. They have a leather strip with cotton raffia ruffles, and come in different colour combinations. The brand takes influences from local tribes and the colours of Marrakech, giving them a unique twist.

NO/AN: Humane Artisanal Approach Towards Handbag Luxury

Finnish NO/AN by Anna Lehmusniemi is an artisanal handbag brand boasting a purposeful, well-executed approach, whereas each bag is crafted by one single artisan throughout the process. Created as a reaction to the reckless speed of fashion industry, Nordic NO/AN believes in honest, detailed design approach and thorough, transparent craftsmanship of patiently dreamed up bags from start to the finish. The collection’s trademark matte, muted colour palette, as well as sharp graphic and geometrical lines, recalling Nordic landscape and architecture, allured us immediately. One true meticulous, quality fashion staple worth having this soon approaching spring season, that's a NO/AN bag. 

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

What were the key concerns regarding the fast fashion industry that turned into values you embrace with NO/AN?

The key concern is the overconsumption of things that do not last and are not needed. If a T-shirt costs £4,99 and a pair of jeans £12,99, there is clearly something wrong. It indicates the quality is not good and the artisans haven't been decently paid for their work. Fashion productions are also often far bigger than the demand, and so much goes to waste, or is finally sold at a very low price. As a designer, I also feel that it is important to give the design process the time it needs to create a product that is resilient. When it comes to fast fashion, this route is not the objective.

NO/AN’s values are built on honesty and sustainability. I want to create bags that can last for a long time, both quality and design wise. For me it is also very important to work with ateliers and suppliers that care about their employees, who are paid fairly. 

What's the most unique thing about NO/AN we need to know now?

The most unique thing is that every bag is made by one artisan from the beginning to the end. The bags are also signed by the artisans who made them. For me this is luxury.

"As a designer, I also feel that it is important to give the design process the time it needs to create a product that is resilient. When it comes to fast fashion, this route is not the objective."

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

Is the leather and other materials you use ethically sourced? Where do they come from?

I use natural grain leather and nickel-free metal zippers in my bags. The leather is a bi-product of the meat industry, and it comes from a Portuguese tannery that prioritises environmental preservation. The zippers are made by the Swiss brand RIRI, which are partly made in Switzerland and partly in Italy. I know both suppliers well.

What's your opinion about the fashion industry turning a degree closer to transparency and honesty? What could still be done differently?

It is clearly a growing trend and I think it is great. If the brands have nothing to hide, it should not be an issue to be open about where they produce and source the materials.

Sustainability and transparency can easily sound like something boring. I think some transparent brands could focus more on the image and to create an interesting, story-telling world around their products. For example, Everlane has executed it very well.

How do your Finnish roots pair with the aesthetics of the brand? Do you feel geography has influenced your art direction in any meaningful way?

Even though I have been living abroad several years, my design style and personal taste is still very much inspired by my Finnish roots. Actually, I think that the more I stay away from Finland, the more I take inspiration from Finland and appreciate Finnish design. Finnish design is often very minimal, but still not entirely boring. These are the same characteristics I want to communicate with my bags and NO/AN's art direction.

"Sustainability and transparency can easily sound like something boring. I think some transparent brands could focus more on the image and to create an interesting, story-telling world around their products."

NO/AN SS17. 

NO/AN SS17. 

The branding of fashion will possibly always be more fast paced — we need new images for products every season, if not more frequently. It's all production, all waste. How could this advertising process be perhaps slowed down — I would bring forward more seasonless campaign images, etc? What's your take on that?

Since I do not work with fashion seasons, I also aim to have seasonless campaigns. From NO/AN’s first shooting you cannot say directly, if it is a summer or a winter collection, because it works for both. For me brands coming up with campaigns frequently is a positive thing. It creates work for photographers, stylists, make-up artist and models. If you create digital marketing content, you do not waste materials. But if you print, it is important not to print more than needed.

I think it is important to refresh the image of a brand and collection every once in a while, even though it is a slow fashion brand. A sustainable brand does not have to be boring.

Shop here:

https://noanstudio.com

Textile Designer Nelly Rose: Honouring Global Artisanship with a Voice

For the London-based textile designer Nelly Rose, on top of placing elements of traditional craftsmanship and up-cycling in the centre of her eccentric textile artwork, the power of collaboration is key. The main themes running through her expressive textile lines are female empowerment and creating a ‘voice’ through her conscious craftsmanship. Nelly Rose is extremely concerned about the de-valuing and vanishing of traditional techniques that should be cherished and preserved instead. Through her vibrant, empowering prints — forever, if we may.

Photo by  Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

What led you to sustainable approach in textile design? How unique is your approach in London vs on a wider, global scale? 

I have studied Print, Knitwear and Embellishment, and all of these have led me to make more conscious decisions about the materials I was using and where the techniques derived from. In London, my approach is very much inspired by the concept of 'upcycling' and DIY-culture. On a global scale, my work is lead by my curiosity and passion for handcrafts and discovering their origin; nothing excites me more than being able to include them in my collections. I am currently exploring Japan, absorbing the culture and discovering all kinds of beautiful craftsmanship [from the region].

What are the values your brand encompasses? What are the main themes you are keen to explore? 

My values as a brand lie in working on projects which focus around female empowerment and creating a voice through a creative medium. I have worked in various projects from ‘shop window stitch-ins’, raising awareness about the Rana Plaza factory collapse, to the first modest wear runway collection in the UK made entirely in artisan houses in Indonesia.  

I tend to use a lot of typography in my work, which I guess contributes to the idea of raising a ‘voice’. Overall, the main themes I explore in my work are: Handcraft, Messages and Storylines, Protest and Equality, Printed Textiles, Creative Campaigns.  

"The brand I strive to create is my expressive vision of what I consider to be ethical in my own way, whilst still being loud, bold and a little eccentric." 

Photo by  Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

How does Nelly Rose as a person and as a brand differ, if at all?  

Interesting question! I would say my personality as Nelly Rose mainly focuses on networking and bringing people together, who have similar mindsets about changing the world in creative ways. I guess Nelly Rose is my rainbow vision, my compassion and my voice.  The brand I strive to create is my expressive vision of what I consider to be ethical in my own way, whilst still being loud, bold and a little eccentric.  

Your work was recently showcased at the Green Fashion Week in Milan. What does the experience mean to you? 

Green Fashion Week was a brilliant experience as it fused together my interest in global climate change, as well as having fashion at the forefront.  The new collection I showed was of hand painted up-cycled garments, ranging from denim to leather, which I salvaged from a textile waste plant.  My highlight of the experience was the photo shoot I directed at the Bosco Verticale alongside designer Silvia Giovanardi. It fused the relationship between sustainable fashion and architecture, and it was very inspiring to witness my work being a part of that. 

Although I love the ‘calendar’ fashion weeks, I also have to express my love and connection to other global fashion events such as AFWL (Africa Fashion Week London) and the recently participated in GFW. I find that there is an open dialogue and a more personal level of fashion presented.  

"I tend to use a lot of typography in my work, which I guess contributes to the idea of raising a ‘voice’."

Photo by   Marilu Venditti.  

Photo by Marilu Venditti.  

What are the most meaningful collaborations you have done so far? What do you consider perhaps your biggest accomplishment? 

I consider my biggest accomplishment to date the Co-Identity collection which has been showed at the Jakarta Fashion Week and then London Fashion week via Fashion Scout. The collection was a collaboration with Dian Pelangi and Odette Steele in which involved fully immersing myself in Indonesia as an inhabitant and creating the textiles for the full 24 Looks of Modest Womenswear. These consisted of fully hand rendered techniques ranging from hand painted gowns, Batik and Songket weaving.  

Making of: Nelly Rose Artisanal Textiles. 

Making of: Nelly Rose Artisanal Textiles. 

What irritates you about the fast fashion industry? Why do we need a slower approach? 

The fast fashion industry irritates me mainly because of mass consumption and the de-valuing and plagiarising of traditional techniques.  I believe in a slower approach to prevent the de-humanisation of garment workers in the supply chain, thus preventing the capitalisation of poverty.  We take such an avid interest in the ingredients that go into our body or our pharmaceuticals, so I don’t understand why we don’t have the same mindset about what we wear on our skin.  The industry deliberately makes it hard to question, and easy to ignore, so it is imperative we constantly ask #whomademyclothes.  

Do you personally feel it is more difficult to deliver work using ethical and artisanal approach? 

I believe that in order to deliver a luxury product, there should be a transparent process. In my personal work, the initial process is more difficult, as it can be more costly as a young emerging designer; however I am constantly trying to inform myself in ways I can maximise the artisanal approach. I have a vision of working with artisan communities across the world to collaborate on beautiful creative outcomes, and I will carry on finding the most efficient ways to deliver these collaborations.  

"The fast fashion industry irritates me mainly because of mass consumption and the de-valuing and plagiarising of traditional techniques." 

 Nelly Rose, credits: Laila Cohen / Imprint Magazine. 

 Nelly Rose, credits: Laila Cohen / Imprint Magazine. 

How would you categorise yourself in the fashion world? What's the most important message you aim to deliver as an artist? 

I predominantly refer to myself as a designer because I like to create wearable pieces which tell a story. However, as designer refers to the process prior to a piece being created, I also refer to myself as a creative director because I love to work with a concept in various forms, such as film and installation. Ultimately, I aim to deliver an outcome through the power of collaboration, which reflects the journey and honours the craft. 

http://www.nelly-rose.com

Fonnesbech's DNA of Intelligent Functionality

Fonnesbech is a Danish label with its heritage taking us back as far as to 1847. Without compromising its delicate DNA of intelligent functionality and the tailored quality of impeccable classics coined by Anders Fonnesbech’s legacy, the brand was re-launched in 2014. Aiming to deliver history and craftsmanship not starved of sustainability, Fonnesbech’s vision remains embedded in creating a captivating capsule wardrobe — long-lasting designs that are forever relevant. Fonnesbech’s take on innovating the urban classics may make you forever want to do pirouettes in their elegant silhouettes. We ventured into Fonnesbech’s maison of multipurpose classics with Andrea Friis Laursen, Brand Manager of Fonnesbech.

Fonnesbech AW 16/17. 

Fonnesbech AW 16/17. 

What are your brand's principles related to sustainability? 

We get everything produced within Europe. The fabrics we work with need to have a sustainable story, for instance certified GOTS or Oeko-Tex, as well as recycled and organic materials. We are continously searching for new, innovative fabrics. We do not compromise the final look of the product, regardless of sustainable production. 

You mention the multipurpose functionality of your garments.  What's your take on the concept of 'capsule' wardrobe?

We think that having a ‘capsule’ wardrobe in good quality is a luxury nowadays. We like the thought of wearing clothing, which hasn’t affected people, animals or the environment in a detrimental way in the course of its production. We create clothing that contains no harmful chemicals and we aim to design clothing that you feel you can’t live without — be it in five or ten years.

Who is the woman of Fonnesbech?

She is an ambitious, driven and conscious woman, who loves good quality items and classic design with a twist.  

Fonnesbech AW 16/17. 

Fonnesbech AW 16/17. 

How to still look chic with buying less? 

It is essential to build a wardrobe formed of classics in good quality, like the trench coat, the light blue shirt, little black dress and jeans. It is also important to take care of your clothes as much as you care about your own hair and skin. The fibres will stay intact longer, if you lower the temperature when washing.  Do not tumble dry, buy a lint roller, and do iron your shirt every once in a while. It’s actually the little things that matter.

"It is essential to build a wardrobe formed of classics in good quality, like the trench coat, the light blue shirt, little black dress and jeans. It is also important to take care of your clothes as much as you care about your own hair and skin."

What are the main improvements in the clothing industry you look to push forward with Fonnesbech?

We want to be an example of sustainability that is modern, innovative and cool. We want to make timeless clothes you want to keep forever and use season after season, without failing to still look chic. 

In year 2026, where do you see sustainable fashion stand? 

We are wishing for the day to come, where sustainable fashion becomes mainstream. Instead of having to carefully search for sustainable clothing as today, the conventional part will take much less space in stores. The speed of the technological development should make it realistic, or at least that is what we hope for.

https://fonnesbech-cph.com

Steinway & Sons: 4 Sustainability Pillars to Piano Making

What makes an honest company experienced in the craftsmanship of a single musical instrument? In the world of sustainable luxury, for Steinway & Sons, 4 base factors are the key — tradition, green issues, transparency and durability. In this world crammed with disposable items in every aspect of life, Steinway & Sons, with more than 160 years expertise in piano making, reassures our confidence in quality, sustained craftsmanship and environmental consideration, and as if by accident, connects with the most talked about emerging trends in the current global luxury sector.

Steinway & Sons, 2016.

Steinway & Sons, 2016.

Transparency and environmental issues are no longer living in an extinct, faraway land only concerning the global fashion superpowers, but are widely prioritised on the consumer awareness agenda, whereas it is a no-brainer luxury brands get more exposure on revealing their behind-the-scenes. With #whomademyclothes increasingly trending on social media as a form of attracting sustainable fashion more visibility, even companies with tradition and history have been affected, due to popular demand, by a new wave of embracing transparency. Yet, what if there is nothing to hide? Steinway & Sons is a company that unintentionally stands in line with the global trend of stripping ‘bare’ in the luxury industry. We may still consider fashion as the most obvious example of an industry aspiring to turn a great degree greener, but also a great deal of craftsmanship and environmental consideration can be put into making a piano — a Steinway piano, made of wood from sustainable sources, can be played and enjoyed for decades, and — coming without an expiry date — even centuries. 

“In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us, but that doesn't mean that quality and craftsmanship can suffer.”

Steinway & Sons, 2016. 

Steinway & Sons, 2016. 

Steinway belongs to the segment of sustainable luxury products, but understanding the real quality and durability often takes more than just a fancy exterior — it is easy to plaster a product with a luxury label, without making sure the product actually delivers towards the sustainability criteria. At Steinway, in addition to aesthetic appeal of the instrument, the role of actual craftsmanship, skills and the quality of raw materials is taken with utmost importance, where there is no compromise — it takes about a year to make one Steinway piano. In addition, the company boasts only two factories world-wide, based in New York and Hamburg. It takes only a glance under the lid to reveal the complexity of the artisan-built musical instruments measured with great care, assuring the customer that they are not simply paying for ‘luxury’ label, the name.

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Painting of the logo.  

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Painting of the logo. 

Similarly to the flourishing #whomademyclothes trend, the answer to questions like, ‘Who made my piano? How well treated the workers are? Where are they based? How much are they paid?’ , lies in highly-skilled craftspeople and artisans treated fairly and ethically. As a customer, in addition to the basics, like how, where, and by whom the product is made, we shouldn’t discard the most important question — whether the expertise is actually there. Like many other notable luxury corporations, Steinway has chosen to downplay the ostentatious label and opt for a greater degree of transparency — many of their staff have been at its workshops for decades and there are generations of the same family who have dedicated their lives to Steinway. At Steinway, interactive approach is also the key — customers frequently visit the workshops before moving on to the factory’s Selection Room, where they can try out a variety of pianos to find the one that feels right for them.

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Making of. 

Steinway & Sons, 2016: Making of. 

Steinway is also highly dedicated to the exclusivity aspect — any experienced pianist can tell that every Steinway piano sounds slightly different. Over the years, they have introduced a variety of limited editions — the Steinway Crown Jewel Collection is a range of visually striking pianos created from unusual, precious woods that challenges the perception of the ebony high polish concert grand, is typical of this trend. In 2015, in partnership with Wayne Stahnke, Steinway Spirio, the world's finest player piano system, available exclusively on select Steinway grand pianos, was introduced as a remarkable innovation, which is expected to last the full lifetime of the piano. 

Steinway Spirio launch, 2015. 

Steinway Spirio launch, 2015. 

According to the brand's spokesperson, “Since the founding of Steinway & Sons over 160 years ago, innovation and craftsmanship have served as the core tenets of the company. In today’s marketplace, brands like ours must continue to innovate in order to remain relevant to the world around us, but that doesn't mean that quality and craftsmanship can suffer.” Relying on these core principles of sustainability, craftsmanship, tradition and environmental responsibility,  and more than a century worth of expertise, no wonder Steinway is the choice of nine out of ten concert pianists as well as countless professionals and amateurs.

For years on end, Steinway proudly serves as a company that, first and foremost, has its core values in place. 

http://steinway.com