London Fashion Week is fast approaching and with issues constantly raised regarding the sustainability of the event and the clothing displayed, pressure is increasing for designers to present environmentally friendly options. The brand Vin + Omi have risen to the challenge and a surprising collaboration with Prince Charles has provided the natural materials for their clothing range.
Vin and business partner Omi first met Prince Charles in May 2018 at an event in aid of the Positive Fashion Initiative. Their discussion on alternative, environmentally friendly fibres for material production prompted a dialogue regarding the use of nettles and caused Prince Charles to comment: “I’ve got lots of those at Highgrove.” Originally seen by the duo as an offhand remark, they were surprised to receive an invitation to the Prince’s private residence. At Highgrove, they met the head gardener, and along with students from Oxford Brookes University, were able to gather 3000 plants.
Surprisingly, the fabric produced by Vin + Omi from the nettles will have a fluffy texture and floaty drape, due to their ground-breaking processing methods. These procedures include the use of a saltwater bleach which does not leave environment damaging effluent like a regular colour stripper would.
Omi reflected on the 10 nettle fabric garments in the collection: “Nettles are perceived to have no value, hopefully that challenges the way we think about fashion… We want to start people thinking about how fashion can work with what the environment has on offer, rather than forcing itself on the environment in harmful ways.”
Vin + Omi is not the only brand expected to have a sustainable focus to their designs this season. Stella McCartney has always been a designer concentrating on environmental issues and her range is expected to follow the Mission Statement (available on her website) which states: “We believe that the future of fashion is circular – it will be restorative and regenerative by design and the clothes we love never end up as waste.” Another designer to look out for is Richard Malone, who sources his yarn from the Himalayas, where he works closely with a group of women who weave and dye the fibres using natural dyes. Luna Del Pinal by Gabriela Luna and Corina del Pinal will also be at London Fashion week and similarly, are advocates for employing local craftspeople and helping communities. They use artisans from Guatemala to make the backstrap woven fabric for their garments.
It will be interesting to see which other brands take notice and act on pressures to be more ethical and sustainable.