UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL 22 September 2015 16:00
Why ethical fashion brands led by women are getting a boost on Kickstarter and bringing the world to London
Ethical fashion brands are bringing the world to London, one Kickstarter campaign at a time. The fashion world is known to be difficult, if not impossible to break into. Try adding ethical credentials, and unless you’re H&M, it seems like nobody is listening. However things are changing slowly and for the best.
In the past year, 3 brands have launched successful campaigns on Kickstarter, and they have several things in common. Firstly, they work with artisans from exotic and far away countries such as Nepal, Ethiopia and Mexico. Secondly, they all have women at their helms and finally they are taking on the fashion industry and challenging the status quo of how our clothes are made.
First there was Here Today, Here Tomorrow an enterprise set up by 4 London-based women with the aim of working with fair trade producers in Nepal to develop a collection of womenswear. Later this year, Kalkidan Legesse steered her business Sancho’s Dress to raise over £12,000 to develop and set up a workshop in Ethiopia to support local women artisans and develop a new range of scarves & ponchos.
The most recent brand to join this growing movement is Chilpa. Chilpa is a UK-based Mexican fashion brand, run by Mexico City native, Maru Rojas. Maru came to London 7 years ago and in 2013 set up Chilpa based on a desire to bring Mexican fashion and culture to the UK in a way that recognised the artisans who make beautiful handmade products and have done so for centuries. Chilpa’s approach champions slow fashion and therefore, the brand’s first product was a rebozo, for centuries a staple and essential garment in a Mexican wardrobe. A rebozo is a long fabric with fringes similar to a scarf, used to cover up or carry babies. No fossil fuels or electricity are required in the process of making the original cotton rebozos as they are woven in small-home based workshops on mechanical foot looms. Chilpa's rebozos are made with a traditional ikat technique (where the cotton is tied together previous to dyeing then untied to reveal the pattern). Therefore, rebozos really are the epitome of slow fashion. Each one can take up to thirty days to make and because they’re made by hand, each one is 100% individual.
Rather than shying away from the lack of opportunities, financing and support from the government for ethical initiatives, these women have brought new and exciting products to the London market. Exotic yet affordable, simple yet beautiful, traditional but contemporary, each item is made with love, care and skill.
Chilpa is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign that will help to produce a whole new range of rebozo inspired products, from tote bags to snoods and bring them to independent UK retailers by the end of the year. All items can be pre-ordered until October 7th, 2015.
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