One easy way to make the shift towards sustainability is buying clothes that will grow old with you and won't just sit at the back of your closet.
By TEAM SAVANTRead More
One easy way to make the shift towards sustainability is buying clothes that will grow old with you and won't just sit at the back of your closet.
By TEAM SAVANTRead More
Created by two friends chasing the modern-day entrepreneurial dream, AmaElla 100% ethically made organic cotton lingerie challenges the importance of sustainable practices in undergarment industry today.
By Hanna-Amanda PantRead More
In Finland, radical transparency is making waves in the clothing industry. With their seasonless style and Nordic grace, as a new brand in the market, iluut aspires to make ethical design more accessible to all customers. Who would deny introducing a pinch of minimal elegance into their wardrobe? iluut is comprised of a female trio, with their feminine enigma focused on building awareness of affordable slow fashion. Having just launched their web shop in early 2017, we wanted to know more about their journey towards the brave way of entering ethical fashion industry.
Describe iluut's debut collection in 3 words.
Timeless, traceable and affordable.
What are the attitudes circulating about sustainable fashion in Finland?
The Finns are paying more and more attention to making sustainable purchases, especially people living in major cities today show interest in buying clothes from smaller sustainable brands. However, iluut aims to expand further in Europe, and it’s great witnessing sustainable supply increase; there is something for everyone nowadays. We also think we have a great duty of educating people and building awareness of the difference between fast and sustainable fashion. We can’t wait for the day when sustainable brands really make a breakthrough and get a bigger market share. We are working hard for that.
What are the main complications you've faced when setting up iluut?
At the very beginning, it was very surprising how difficult it was to find high quality, sustainable woven fabrics that have been made in Europe. We wanted to find fabrics that are fully traceable; meaning they come to us directly from the farm. We truly appreciate full transparency, because we believe it could decrease fashion’s biggest ethical and environmental problems, such as use of child labour, unsecured working conditions, dangerous chemicals and industrial pollution. In summer 2016, we made a European tour and visited a family-owned Italian fabric manufacturer, Albini. We are proud to say that our customers have so far been very happy with the quality of iluut clothes. Currently we are looking for new sustainable fabric options for the dresses we are developing.
What are the benefits of a minimal capsule wardrobe?
Minimal style looks fresh from year to year, and it’s very easy to combine. That means you don’t need so many garments, because with less pieces you can create many different kinds of looks that last throughout the years. It cannot be a conscious choice to produce something that people won’t wear anymore in a couple of seasons, and that will turn into more waste.
Who and what were the main influencers and influences iluut took note of since its inception?
Our whole team of three ambitious women loves fashion, but thinks that making beautiful things shouldn’t harm people. Last summer, we were fortunate to meet a pioneer designer in sustainable fashion, Marina Spadafora. She has been designing for high-end Italian brands, such as Prada and Miu Miu, before deciding to become a sustainable fashion advocate and a part of the Advisory Committee of the Fashion Revolution global movement; always including a strong social and environmental focus on her work. We take inspiration from people like Marina; people who have started doing things differently to really make a change.
How does iluut differ from many other Scandinavian brands trying to conquer the ethical fashion market?
There are only very few fashion brands that open the whole process of each garment: where the clothes were made and who actually made them. This is something iluut focuses strongly on, and we encourage others to do the same. We have also recently started designing two Spring/Summer dresses together with our Instagram and Facebook followers. We believe people will appreciate the clothes even more, if they can contribute to the process. Our aim is to be an open and collaborative brand that brings joy and value to its end customers.
Choosing an angle to improve social or economic conditions in Third World is widely cherished by brands to make a change in the fashion industry. What's your social mission?
At iluut, we want to work with companies that care about their workers and are willing to invest in them more than just on an average, distant level. For example, when we were looking for an atelier, we were convinced of our choice after finding an Estonian atelier with seven seamstresses, who are paid 40% more than the average workers in the industry. We started working on iluut aside of our daily jobs, and our margins are still low because our mission is to offer affordable sustainable clothes for everyone. How to make our mission happen? We need to rise the volumes and we just took the first steps towards that by opening our web shop, iluut.com. You are warmly welcome to have a look and make sustainable purchases.
What's the best season to be seen in your garments?
Fashion world rotates on the basis of seasons. That’s something we’re thinking differently: surely we’ll have clothes for different times of the year, but we don’t offer seasonal collections arriving two times a year. On the flip side, fast fashion brings new clothes to the market every week, which means compromising the quality and generating a huge amount of waste - both because the garments are not durable and get thrown away, and also because of the unsold stock left in stores. To improve the cycle, our goal is to bring something new to the market only once in around a month’s time, without compromising quality or workers’ conditions. Also, making clothes with a slower approach and seeing what sells and producing according to demand, allows us to avoid producing waste.
SKALL is a conscious, value-based Danish fashion studio founded by siblings Julie and Marie Skall. Rooted in quintessentially Nordic values, SKALL is all about communicating through aesthetically clean, enduring pieces — well-fitted garments that last across seasons. Their latest SS17 collection ‘Monde Imaginaire' brings us a floating narrative of dreaming a better world for ourselves, impeccably blended into dreamy colours of pink and silent sky blue. Oh, we love a collection for dreamers...
What inspired you to create a sustainable brand?
We both have several years experience in the conventional fashion industry and we felt a need to create a modern fashion brand that we would feel good about. When we created Skall studio in 2013, there where not that many sustainable fashion brands around. To us, it comes naturally that we care about the entire process of garment-making, from seed to closet, and we wish to have a minimal negative impact on the surroundings, the environment, people and animals involved in the process. We truly care about the footprint that we leave behind us. With Skall studio, we contribute to creating a world we wish to see. We have something in our hearts and we communicate that story though Skall studio.
When it comes to your team of two, how true is the saying 'team work makes the team work’ ? Who does what?
Very true! In many ways we are very much alike, like most siblings, but we have different strengths and different background in the fashion industry. We do all designing together and collectively take decisions about our collections and brand identity. Everything else is divided between the two of us, whereas Julie takes care of all sourcing, sampling and production, and Marie is responsible for all sales, marketing and PR. We find it very important to give each other space and freedom to do what they do best, but we still talk a lot all the time!
Where do you produce and what are the main fabrics you work with?
We produce all of our woven garments in India. We work with a great factory that is FairTrade and GOTS-certified, which means that they work with very high standards when it comes to environment and social responsibility. We visit the factory at least twice a year and we have a great rapport with the factory owner and people working in the factory. Mostly, we work with GOTS-certified organic cotton and linen fabrics. We love the beauty of natural fabrics and remodelling them to the highest possible quality.
Many Danish brands have chosen to focus on the sustainability route. What makes you clearly stand out?
Everything we do comes from our heart — creating clothes with value and purpose. Besides caring about the environment, we also have strong ethics regarding people and animals. We do not use any fur or leather from animals, we both live a vegetarian lifestyle, and that is also essential to the values of Skall studio.
What should be the 5 basic items in every woman's wardrobe?
A classic white cotton shirt, effortlessly chic and comfortable, made of organic cotton, of course. A warm and cosy wool sweater, locally made of wool from local sheep. A long shirt-dress, which can be dressed up with a belt and heels or casually and loosely worn with everyday sneakers. A good pair of jeans or casual cotton pants, preferably with a slightly loose fit and cropped legs. A feminine and voluminous skirt with high elastic waist and side pockets.
What are your personal tips when it comes to styling a look, without necessarily buying new items bottom to the top?
We like classic items, which can easily be styled with a personal touch. We love scarfs, small cotton scarfs in nice colours and patterns, we wear them around our necks, around a ponytail or tied around our wrists. Layering is also a great way of creating new looks — we use a knitted sweater on top of a shirt or around the waist when wearing a dress. A shirt-dress over pants can also do the trick. We always wear our shirts with the sleeves slightly folded at the arm.
Your collections have fun names, where do you draw inspiration from? What inspired you when designing the Savoy Truffle collection?
We find inspiration in everything around us, especially music and art. We love all music from the 60’s and 70’s, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchel. With the Savoy Truffle collection we wanted to share our love for The Beatles — Savoy Truffle is the name of a Beatles song from their album called White. George Harrison wrote the song to tease his friend Eric Clapton, who loves chocolates – hence Savoy Truffle. It is actually a bit silly, but it is a great song and true art doesn’t have to be serious, it should be fun too. Every Skall studio collection and every piece of clothinh that we create has a story behind it; a story born from something we love.
What story will the new SS17 collection open?
Our new SS17 collection ‘Monde imaginaire’ tells a story about an imaginary world, which we have created in our minds. It is a world full of warmth and happiness, and it can be described as a feeling — a “flowing” feeling of joy and love, and we see warm colours, like pink and silent sky blue. It is about creating the world you wish to see and wish to live in. It might be a dream world, but that’s what we all are, dreamers.
When it comes to your practices of sustainable lifestyle, what are the first steps we should take to slow a bit down and be more mindful?
Be present everywhere you are and in everything you do. When you are present, you see what is around you and it makes you think clearly. Think about what you do and especially what you consume. We all have a huge power when it comes to what we buy, eat, wear, support and share. No one can save the world on their own, but everyone can do small things. Just do not care strongly about what you see around you and do what you feel is right in your heart.
Looking for something to light up your interior design dreams? Something timeless, yet modern? Something bold, yet subtle? Estonia-based HIIS Design furniture stunned us with their effortlessly elegant design furniture made sustainably, with a dash of care and love. To shed light on HIIS Design’s innovative creations, young furniture maker Tõnis-Sander Maarits opened us a door to his creative workshop...
Words: Johanna Raudsepp
What’s your personal take on furniture? What makes a piece of furniture excellent?
The attractive outline, not only at the shop or in pictures, but in the interior where it’s used. Comfort and simplicity, while having down-to-the-tiny-detail design and quality combined, make a piece of furniture a great one. Something made from heart is not just another piece of furniture, but creates an exquisite experience in a room. Take a table, for example – it’s not just some thing to sit and dine at, but it creates a heartwarming shared experience with your friends and family. Good design can help enhance that feeling.
How does HIIS Design apply ethical practises in your workshop? What’s particularly important for you?
The most important thing in furniture manufacturing is that quality and timeless design [are there]. When a design piece lasts you ages, fitting in with the old and the new, it becomes an environmentally sustainable piece. HIIS Design is for someone who values quality and wants an enduring piece of furniture to bring into their interior that lasts for years. We aim to create furniture that can be the anchor-point in a room, around which you can design everything else.
As wood production can be harmful for our environment, we make sure to use FSC certified wood as our resource. For Hiis Design, it’s of high importance we use consciously produced wood to ensure forests lasts for future generations. That also reflects in our name (’hiis’ in Estonian translates to ’ancient grove’).
Is there a personal story… how did HIIS Design come to be?
As a young boy, I used to make ships and other toys in my father’s wood workshop, hammer and chisel in hand. When I was 13, we moved to a new house and I didn’t have any furniture in my new room. That’s when I decided to design and make my own furniture. I made a pretty good bed, which gave me more drive to build other things, like a closet. Every summer I used to earn pocket money from furniture making and restoration. At first, in 2013, fresh out of university, I started my own custom-made furniture workshop, but I always felt like it was not enough for me to build things designed by other people. I began to experiment more with my own designs and one thing led to another, as they say. In spring 2016, HIIS Design was brought to life.
With regards to environmental protection, how do you imagine the future of furniture design?
Endurance is what makes furniture environmentally friendly. An oak table will last generations, unlike a cheap mass produced equivalent from melamine. A toxin-rich piece of furniture will last 10 years at most. But an oak table will last you until a new, baby-oak is growing, reducing environmental damage. More materials will be used, of course, and a lot of new solutions to battle space deficiency. However, we must not undermine natural materials and living in harmony with nature. I find that people are starting to value earthiness and natural things even more [in furniture design]. Families with kids, especially, want to be able to make more sustainable choices when choosing products for their homes.
If your brand has a soundtrack, then what would it be like and why?
The first song that popped up in my head was ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC. Probably because I often listen to that song, when I start my day at the workshop. It creates a nice energy and gets you going for the day. But that’s only a small part of our brand. HIIS Design’s soundtrack would be ‘Spiegel im spiegel’ by Arvo Pärt (Grammy-winning Estonian composer), because when I listen to that piece I find myself in a powerful state of creativity. As the title suggests, a mirror against a mirror reflects into infinity, the same way inspiration has no boundaries.
Where do you draw inspiration from for new pieces?
Inspiration can strike at any moment, which is why I always carry a notebook along. Even a quick sketch right there in the moment can be a life-saver of a striking flash-idea. I feel like inspiration is deep inside of us, piling up in our sub-conscience since childhood, and is often brought onto the surface again by some small trigger in our adulthood. It’s important to capture those moments and know how to fuel them. I like to get my creativity flowing by going through old books, magazines and websites. Other times, I draw inspiration when watching a movie or a TV show – like Mad Men, where the 60s American-style surroundings can fire up some great memories.
ELLISS is a London-based responsible brand focusing on organic jersey wear. The collection 'Unconsciously Conscious' speaks of choosing responsible clothing unconsciously for its aesthetics rather than merely ethical production. Their vintage-inspired jersey wear, using ultra nostalgic silhouettes, sported by vulnerable looking girls, is not only visually appetising, but out-of-this-world comfy, too. Even so much so, we want to keep it close all winter long...
How does ELLISS connect sustainability and fashion?
We use organic materials and manufacture in England to maintain a low carbon footprint and are conscious of every element of the design process to waste as little as possible.
What are the main aspects ELLISS as a responsible fashion brand looks to improve?
I would like to show that sustainable fashion can be stylish. The design is very important to me. I want people to buy the clothes because of the way they look, rather than just because they are consciously made. The collection is called ‘Unconscious Clothing’, I want the women who buy my clothes to not necessarily be looking for something eco-friendly, but to choose a piece because of the design – to unconsciously be conscious.
Why is it so difficult to get something responsible manufactured in Britain?
It isn’t difficult to have things responsibly manufactured in the UK as you can oversee the production. However, it did take time to find the right factory. The options are few, but I am lucky to have found a factory I can work closely with. The price is slightly higher in the UK than abroad, but the quality is fantastic.
What inspired the creative direction for ELLISS? Who is perhaps your muse?
The creative direction has happened very naturally from working with great teams on the shoots. Amy, the model in our lookbook, is incredible — she has the ability to look so vulnerable and confident at the same time. That is something that is important to me, to show women in a natural way. We just released a behind-the-scenes film of the launch presentation, which is a candid look at the girls, the playful, real moments.
What personally bothers you the most about fast fashion? How can we still look good with less?
The waste — the nature of the way people buy clothes needs to change. The best way to shop is to buy less, but pieces you really love. Curate your wardrobe.
How much importance does sustainable living have in your everyday?
It plays a big part in the way that I think. I like to buy vintage clothes – that is one of the reasons I decided to focus on jersey wear. Vintage shopping is great for a trousers and outerwear, but when it comes to lingerie and T-shirts – you want something fresh and new. I love wearing matching jersey underwear and a soft T with a pair of vintage jeans.
What makes it tricky to have an entirely Made in Britain clothing brand?
Manufacturing in the Britain is more expensive, but it means that you have control of the production and can see everything that is going on throughout the process. I think it is important for the customer to know where their products are coming from.