Radically Responsible Ethical Elegance from Finland: ILUUT

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.

iluut, ss17. 

iluut, ss17. 

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. 

"Our aim is to be an open and collaborative brand that brings joy and value to its end customers." 

iluut, ss17. 

iluut, ss17. 

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. 

iluut, ss17. 

iluut, ss17. 

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.

"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."

iluut, ss17. 

iluut, ss17. 

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. 

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Study 34 & The New Crew: Quintessentially British Functional Knitwear

Study 34 is a quintessentially British responsible knitwear brand for the intelligent woman in the know of all things sustainable. Fun fact: it was born from a simple functionality issue - more often than not, functional garments come with all the unnecessary buttons and pockets and keyhole fastenings, leaving little space for beautiful simplicity. We took a glimpse into the world of Eleanor O'Neill, author of Study 34 clothing brand and writer on sustainable fashion, about her latest 'The New Crew' knitwear collection and passion for sustainability... 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

How did you become interested in all things sustainable? In particular, what led to interest in fashion x sustainability?

The knowledge I have gained has come from talking to lots of people with much more knowledge than me, as well as reading – I do a lot of that!

I’d say I really become interested during my first internship in the fashion industry, which was for the global supply chain manager Li & Fung in New York. Once you’re exposed to the reality of the fashion system, you start to question things more…

What were the main aspects you wanted to improve when starting with your own responsible fashion brand called Study 34?

I think I had quite a few things on my mind at the beginning. Firstly, it was about style. I like simple, timeless, but modern shapes in knitwear and all the pieces I liked were always out of my price range – we’re talking hundreds of pounds. I wanted that aesthetic to be more attainable.

I’m really passionate about the manufacture of clothing, too. I found it quite frustrating sitting at a desk and drawing things, when I was working for larger brands, and never having the chance to improve my knowledge of construction. It seemed silly, I probably always made the same mistakes but never knew because it was someone else’s job to correct them. When I first started STUDY 34, I made everything in my studio with domestic machines and I learnt a great deal about construction during that time.

“The overproduction and consumption of badly made garments has resulted not just in waste but in clothing itself becoming a totally undervalued part of our society. It has become disposable.”

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

In the intro describing the production process of your new jumper in a British factory you mention many complex issues. In a nutshell, why is it so difficult to get something responsible manufactured in Britain?

It’s not the ‘responsible’ part that’s the problem necessarily; it’s just that when you’re starting out, you’re often working to a factory’s minimums, so it’s hard to get your foot in the door because it doesn’t make you very desirable. You often have to work with what you can get so to speak, which is often not exactly what you wanted…

Who is the woman The New Crew is aimed at?

The STUDY 34 woman is creative, intelligent and interested in the world around her. She’s busy and she needs to be comfortable and look good while she’s going about her day. 

“I’m always talking to people and getting their perspective on the fashion industry, as well as meeting people who make amazing things. All of these activities play a huge role in my day.”

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

What are the main concerns that should be addressed when in comes to fashion industry's irresponsible ways? What personally bothers you the most?

I get asked this a lot and it’s hard to answer because there are so many things to learn and as one person, you can only explore so much at one time. There are a number of things that bother me more than others, though, and the first is working conditions. That anyone can turn a blind eye to what’s happening in a lot of factories I find shocking. 

The second is waste. The over production and consumption of badly made garments has resulted not just in waste but in clothing itself becoming a totally undervalued part of our society. It has become disposable.

What's your personal link with leading a sustainable lifestyle? How big is the role it plays in your everyday? 

Every day I strive to keep learning and expand my knowledge of different areas of the supply chain, whether it’s to do with materials, water usage, design, washing etc. I’m always talking to people and getting their perspective on the fashion industry, as well as meeting people who make amazing things. All of these activities play a huge role in my day. 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

'The New Crew' by Study 34, 2016. 

What's the best advice you have been given in order not to give up your pursuit of creating clothing Made in Britain?

I’m not sure anyone has ever advised me NOT to give up… our textile industry has so diminished in the UK, it remains very difficult. 

How can we make this world a better place and reduce consumption?

Buy thinking before you buy and by valuing the things that you DO buy.


Bedremode.nu — Scandinavian Style Christmas, Without the Stress

I have a winning Christmas mantra this year that goes, “I refuse to stress”. There are many reasons for stress during the holiday season, and I believe that without kids, I am spared of most of them.

Hi, My name is Johanne, and I refuse to stress. I also run a blog focused on sustainable fashion called www.bedremode.nu, and I am happy to share my thoughts on traditions and presents.

But the biggest stress factor for me I believe — like for many others — are my own expectations. Expectations taking the shape of homemade Christmas cookies, a clean and well-decorated house, the perfect gift for grandma and attending fabulous Christmas parties.

So this year I said ‘no’ to the alarming voice in my head, and decided only to participate in the traditions that bring me the most joy with a stress-free mindset. Totally Mari Kondo and all.

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

My Most Loved Scandinavian Christmas Traditions:

  • Finding my old Christmas decorations and scattering them all over the house. Our decorations don’t necessarily have a theme, but each piece has a history, a story to tell. These knitted Christmas balls were a gift from a friend, who learned to knit them all by herself.
Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

  • Having bowls of Christmas snacks standing out. I don’t know about the rest of Scandinavia, but in Denmark we eat so many clementines in December, and I eat my fair share along with cacao covered dates, marzipan bites and nuts.
Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

  • Lighting candles and just hanging out at home. I think December is best enjoyed in slow motion, and candles need paying a little attention in interior. So I light some, then find a good book (or blog) and just enjoy the cosy, dim-lit atmosphere at home. 
  • Going for an evening walk through the city centre to enjoy the lights. I make sure to go after the stores have closed and the stressful shoppers have vanished. That way I can take a good friend for a walk and just enjoy the decorations, merry atmosphere and festive lights. 
  • Contemplating the perfect present for my grandmother. This year my family decided to draw names from a hat and only buy presents for one family member. Much more stress-free! I drew my grandmother, and I am determined to get her a great sustainable present she will remember for long. 

"But the biggest stress factor for me I believe — like for many others — are my own expectations."

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

Copyright: Johanne Stenstrup, bedremode.nu.

Get Creative with Stylish and Conscious Presents

When it comes to presents, I like giving a mix of practical and stylish. I have picked some of my favourite conscious presents this year. 

Soy candles are much better for your home’s air quality, so stacking up on them for you and your loved ones can make a better, cleaner and more cosy Christmas. Since I switched I haven’t looked back. http://webshop.mirins.dk/collections/candles/products/soy-candle-recharge-lemon-ginger-lemongrass

Luxurious socks are great for people who don’t want anything. I don’t believe many people would buy expensive socks for themselves, but once they try these, they might become addicted. So be aware. https://www.aiayu.com/collection/accessories/aiayu-friends-single-pack.html

Yoga pants in organic cotton for the sister or friend, who is always on the move. These from Danish The Baand are made from soft pima cotton, and look good for both workout and relaxing. http://www.thebaand.dk/collections/yoga/products/melissa-rib-leggings

Window farm starter kit for the garden lovers who live in the city. The Urban Garden Company have made starter boxes with organic seeds which makes getting your green thumb on so easy, it’s hard not to want to start growing. http://urbangardencompany.dk/collections/startboxe/products/basis-startbox

Recycled beanie. If I was gifting a guy this season, I would get this hat from Swedish brand Nudie Jeans — they have been sustainability forerunners for years, and I love how they are turning cotton waste into great hats. https://www.nudiejeans.com/product/nicholson-recycled-beanie-blackmelange

Noctu: Seasonless Organic Cotton Nightwear

Noctu is a family business founded by sisters Zoë and Milly, who are based between Bath, UK, and Oslo, Norway. Having witnessed firsthand the shocking impact conventional cotton manufacturing has on people and our planet, they were compelled to create ethically made, beautiful, minimal night and loungewear.

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu Campaign, 2016

“Take my hand and I will lead the way.

Through the fjords where the night is day.

A special place where the sun does not set.

A land where mountains silhouette.

A place for those who dare to dream.

The land of the midnight sun.”

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu dedicated years to finding the right manufacturers, determined to find organic production and fair trade conditions. Throughout their business, Noctu ensure equality, women empowerment and ongoing training programmes. The collection is a wonderful example of how small companies are helping shift the norm with beautiful, high quality products, sourced and made ethically and sustainably that don’t compromise on design, or start at an inaccessible price point. 

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu’s first seasonless night and loungewear collection is beautiful and simple, inspired by the Scandinavian midnight sun, where days neither begin nor end.

All of Noctu’s cotton products are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard Fairtrade.

We love their nighties and the gorgeous pure white bed linen, just what we need as the nights start to draw in. 

Noctu Campaign, 2016

Noctu Campaign, 2016