JIRI KALFAR ON SUSTAINABLE FUTURES

We caught a quick word with designer Jiri Kalfar, a follow-up to our LFW interview (Issue 47). Here’s his thoughts on a few key ideas coming out this new season.

On the BFC’s decision to combine menswear and womenswear for the next year of fashion weeks, and to go digital:

“I think it is great! I am not going to lie, I will miss watching the shows and the atmosphere, same as I miss going to theatres or galleries. There is nothing like it but it is important to adjust and move on. And I think it is a great chance to inform on sustainability, small and local brands who often get a bit overlooked by the industry”.

On turning to more sustainable practices:

“So far our model was very much a hybrid model of sustainability. Since the very beginning I believed that fashion should not be harming the planet or animals. I have tried to be as sustainable as possible within the “demands” of the industry – such as the fashion week schedules, the

timeline for putting the collections for sale, PR, and so on. That being said, all our clothes are made inhouse. We don’t use external factories and due to our zero-waste policy, we do not sell clothes on a wholesale basis.  We upcycle samples and fabrics from previous collections and use bio-degradable or organic materials such as kapok, ahimsa peace silk and others, where possible. That goes for 70% for the whole collection.  With fashion being so demanding and time pressuring, we have cooperated with local fabric manufacturers and we are supplying the rest of fabric from them which aren’t  organically certified. We have made sure that even though the fabric might not be sustainable, it was made locally and had minimal impact, when we dyed or printed. 

As the whole world currently “stopped”, and fashion with it, I think it is so important to take this time as a possibility for a few deep breaths.  As a sign and request to change the way the industry works

and focusing on quality rather than quantity. The real tragedy would be if we are unable to learn from this situation and change our ways in many ways, how we produce, how we shop and what we produce. To step back before we step forward.  It is important not to rush.

Since the situation actually didn’t have much impact on our production, as we make all orders and items in-house and source locally,  it gave me the much needed time and push to be able to work on a fully sustainable collection. All our materials such as silk garments will be from now on made from organic and peace silk, vintage lace, and so on. I am now ready to make a fully sustainable collection based on zerowaste, organic materials, recycled fabrics and up-cycled pieces in combination with local sourcing and in-house ethical production.”

On sourcing and verifying sustainable material:

“I don’t think there ever was a lack of fabric, as a matter of fact, I think we over-produced constantly previous years so I do not find that our

suppliers would have the problem of not having enough fabric stocked. Even though the manufacturer temporarily stopped production. That being said, I do try to use as much local suppliers and manufacturers as possible.

In our collections we do use the ahimsa peace silk which we import from India (since it is not possible to make that in our climate) but yet again I did not find the problem as of now as there would not  be enough material.  

Maybe it is because there simply was not such a great demand for sustainable, organic or vegan fabrics as there was for “fast fashion” fabrics. Since for example making a peace ahimsa silk is indeed much longer than the less humane and organic version of silk, I understand fast fashion and mass production companies would not be interested in it. Therefore, no shortage. And since we print, embroider or dye in-house, we are used to using the basic form of fabric. 

And if there would be a shortage of some, it will be interesting to simply learn and to work with other sustainable materials which are available. I look at it as a challenge. Since we do not have wholesale, we make all items made-to-order directly to the customer, and I organise our ecommerce site and inventory, I can take a product offline any time there would be a shortage or we would need to make a new fabric.The only thing which is a little restricting for me in a matter of sourcing is finding vintage materials which I was getting at markets.”

Images by Zoe Lower, backstage at Jiri Kalfar’s A/W20 show.

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