Wearso’s Organic World

Wearso

WARSAW, Poland — This is the place where, three years ago, I met Ola Was, the mastermind behind the ethical fashion brand Wearso, for the first time. A friend suggested me to visit a new boutique called Wearso.organic located in the heart of the main Warsaw’s shopping street, Mokotowska. Upon my arrival, I discovered one of the most magical fashion places in town. A magical place for three main reasons: The aesthetics of the boutique, the inventive, multifunctional and organic clothes and most importantly, the creator of this brand, Ola Was.

This talented designer, in love with the nature and addicted to responsible fashion, is a lady with a vision – very much aware of how her designs should look like and what message they should convey. As Ola describes herself:

“[I am] a creator and material at the same time. Life is in me and floats through me towards others and comes back to me richer and fuller. I accept all experiences with gratitude; they deepen my consciousness. I am full of passion, I make friends and I love fervently. I am generous and so is life to me. In the end, I have an intuition which guides me.”

Wearso
Wearso

Wearso: Interview With the Founder Ola

I had the pleasure to meet Ola again and have a better understanding of the ethos behind this brand, Ola’s approach to organic clothing and her plans for the future.

How did you come up with the idea of Wearso.organic?

It was a moment. One morning I woke up in Brick Lane in London [Ola had lived in United Kingdom for four years] and realised that this was exactly what I wanted to do in my life. It was the end of a certain process that had progressed inside me for several years. The creativity that followed immediately afterwards only reassured me that it was the right decision to take.

There was no force which could have stopped this machinery in motion. I decided to create and design in an environmentally friendly way. Wearso.organic is a clothing brand based on the understanding that it is a high time to slow down the process of environmental degradation.

Could we say that it was all about an environmental matter?

Yes. And the next important thing to me was to create a simple and clear message. I wanted to be able to offer my clients a product which would be well designed, of great quality and with a reasonable price. Such a product would enable them to make a conscious decision of buying clothes made of environmental friendly materials instead of those being produced on a massive scale.

Why did you name your brand Wearso.organic?

The name originated in the same way the concept of the brand did. I can remember very well the precise moment when this idea came to my mind – I had been looking for it for a long time. It happened during a night in my Warsaw’s flat on Mokotowska Street. I immediately felt that this name would exactly describe, on various levels, what I wanted to do.

By the way, Wearso sounds and is often pronounced like Warsaw, which adds one more meaning and context to the brand as Warsaw is the place where I decided to be and create.

How did you put in practice your organic approach to your collection?

First of all, I believe that pro-environmental attitude can change the whole clothing business and, at the same time, dramatically moderate the attitude of the consumers. During the creative process, I always like to ask myself ‘why’ prior to ‘how’.

At Wearso.organic we do care a lot about our clothes to have a long life. This can be achieved thanks to organic cotton which we exclusively use in our brand. It is a fabric of a greater durability, originates from regions where its cultivation and production are strictly regulated and is produced in accordance to traditional techniques known for hundreds of years.

Why is this approach so important for you?

Being a designer of an applied art, I should think in a different way than the majority of people, doing different things in their lives. My everyday life is questioning the existing order. And if I manage to convince at least few people to become ‘green’, this will be considered a success to me.

Your designs feature an influence from the Far East. Are you fascinated with this part of the world?

Yes. The Japanese approach towards designing, their respect for craftsmanship and the old methods of production fascinate me the most. Another influence comes from Tibet, mainly how people combine colours there. But above all, I am inspired by the antiquity and the way people thought about the clothing back then. The kind of drapery would always depend on individual style. The ease of movement was of great significance and the human body was treated with an enormous respect. It is the idea of ‘less is more’ that corresponds with Ancient people’s way of thinking.

How important is multifunctionality in your designing process?

It is about creating a relationship with the garment and giving the clients the possibility to wear one piece of clothing in various ways so that it enters into their consciousness as something multidimensional.

I wish people would treat clothes with a bigger respect and awareness. For example if we think of the process, it takes a lot of time for the cotton to grow, it requires significant amounts of water, there is real people taking care of it not to mention the actual making of these clothes. It is a concept in contrast to what Fast Fashion aims at. Chain stores have the ability to constantly create the desire in people for new clothes making us throw away the clothes we bought a year ago or earlier. As a result of this, there are tones of clothes that end up in dump sites.

Where do you sell your clothes?

In a stationary boutique in Warsaw at Mokotowska Street. You can also buy them in Berlin, Prague and soon in Paris and Tokyo. We are also working on an on-line shop which is to be launched really soon!

Eco-consciousness in Luxury Fashion

Eco Luxury Fashion - Gucci for the green carpet challenge handbag collection

BOSTON, United States — More than ever before, it seems that people are becoming personally invested in eco-conscious alternatives when considering their fashion choices. Whether having originated from the consumer or fashion industry professionals, the demand for ‘green’ options cannot be ignored. Sustainability in fashion is a focus for many brands which can be demonstrated by the rise of companies such as Rent the Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal.

These two companies thrive on the idea of re-using or renting garments versus purchasing them outright where one may only wear the garments once or twice. Business structures such as these allow the consumer to enjoy a luxury garment at a fraction of the price with far less waste than would be incurred if the item was purchased, worn and then stored. However, is this just a short lived trend? Are people really emotionally invested in sustainable options or are we just looking for the best deal financially?

The Growing Interest in Vintage, Upcycled and Recycled Clothing

Other trends which seem to be innately eco-conscious include the interest in vintage, upcycled and recycled clothing as recently explored in The Guide for the Style-Savyy. Consignment, both luxury and day to day, has become hugely popular. What was once semi-uncool has somehow become the cool, hip thing to do. With the popularity of songs such as “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore, re-using once owned and loved garments is a sought after activity.

Along with this, we see fashion brands using recycled materials in their creations and designs. One such brand is called Couture Planet, a business that is “…committed to providing stylish, earth friendly accessories made from recycled newspapers…. Our philosophy is to use all of our valuable resources, including natural resources, human resources, and repurposed resources.”

Couture Planet Bags

Couture Planet is an American based company that creates very unique and fashion forward accessories with already printed, recycled newspapers. I was able to sit down with the creators of the brand to get an idea from them as to whether eco-consciousness in fashion is the latest trend or is in fact here to stay. Kathy Cormier, Director of Operations at Couture Planet says:

I think that sustainability in fashion and, moreover in everything, has become and will remain a part of the fabric of our lives. People are still becoming educated in how one’s actions affect the planet – and the education is happening slowly, but surely. There remains a divide in choosing between cost/price and eco-friendly materials/products but, as the movement gains momentum, the divide will narrow. At Couture Planet, we have experienced this. We have been able to source eco-friendly components for our products both in terms of availability and price.

Kathy finds sustainability important because “fashion mirrors the historic times. Our planet will not exist unless we continue to make changes in the way we live. At Couture Planet, we use recycled newspapers as ‘fabric’ to create handbags and accessories. Re-use and upcycling are great ways to stay green and fashion forward.”

Eco-conscious Fashion
Eco Fashion – Couture Planet Bags

Eco-consciousness and the Luxury Sector

Although this may all be true, there still seems to be a demand for newly made, non-recycled luxury goods. The luxury sector maintains its market presence despite the wave of sustainable fashion solutions. Even during economic crisis, it is the luxury sector that remains strong and un-waivered.

I discussed this ongoing subject with Justin Gage, a former employee of one of the worlds most recognised and sought after luxury brands: Gucci. I was curious – does Gucci consider eco-friendliness when designing and creating their products?

Justin elaborates: “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been at the heart of a few luxury companies for quite some time. Reducing the carbon footprint is an important mission of many of the luxury brands…Many stores, for example, are retro fitting their lighting to use less energy.” However, he goes on to say that in his experience “…the luxury consumer is still drawn by the label and branding and that consumers still need to be more demanding for products and processes that will be sustainable.”

It seems that the eco-conscious trend is somewhat of a double edge sword. While consumers and brands are certainly becoming more environmentally aware when running their business or when making choices in product purchases, we still have a long way to go to ensure our actions pave a sustainable footpath.

Do you consider the environment when making fashion related choices?

Modern Day Slavery in the Fashion Industry

New York, UNITED STATES  — It is shocking to believe that slavery still exists today! With 27 million individuals enslaved around the world, it is paramount – and part of our duty – to bring awareness to modern day slavery in hopes of ending this global atrocity.

According to the CNN Freedom Project, modern slavery is defined as “when one person completely controls another person, using violence or the threat of violence to maintain that control, exploits them economically and they can not walk away”.

Currently, modern slavery is linked to the hazy supply chains of many industries including electronics, agriculture and fashion. This 30 billion dollar industry, according to the US State Department, is fuelled by a lack of transparency in unregulated production and illegal work practices. Slavery in the fashion world can appear in a variety of forms from harvesting the cotton for a t-shirt, spinning the fibre to yarn, sewing the garment and modelling the final product. The difference between slavery and extremely exploitative labour can be vague and the fashion industry walks a fine line.

No Control Over Supply Chains

It is wise to note that many large fashion brands and companies do not have full control over their supply chains, thus making illegal work practices possible (including sweatshops, trafficking and servitude). Much of the labour and backbone of a clothing collection is contracted out to various players and tracing all the steps from raw material to final product proves quite difficult, thus making exploitation and illegal activities get unnoticed.

The non-profit Free2Work has been tracking well known brands such as Gap, H&M, Levis, and Adidas (to name a few) and ranking them on an A-F scale for “policies, transparency, traceability, monitoring and training or worker rights”. Very few brands received an A and most had D-F grades. Giving consumers the tools they need to make the right purchases is just one part of the process in ending slavery.

Other organisations work directly with the governments and the industry to combat injustices. Not for Sale and Free The Slaves both use economics, business tools and supply chain scales to eradicate slavery. Free the Slaves believes that “slavery flourishes when people cannot meet their basic needs and lack economic opportunity, education, healthcare and honest government”. By “using business creation, supply chain evaluation and aftercare aid around the globe”, Not for Sale works on the ground with communities and individuals affected by slavery and exploitation across all industries.

modern day slavery
modern day slavery

Bringing Awareness is Just the First Step

Another foundation we applaud was created by Katie Ford, family owner and former CEO of Ford Models who seeks to integrate the fashion industry with the realities of human trafficking and slavery.The Katie Ford Foundation focuses on forced labour, sex trafficking and domestic servitude. Ford brings her experiences from one of the largest international modelling agencies to the issue of slavery since she knows first hand the experiences involved.

As CEO of Ford Models, I brought models from over 50 countries to the United States. Most of them were foreign and young, therefore, they were potentially vulnerable. Ford Models has a history of protecting young women and men by providing housing, shelter, food and medical care, if needed. The work I do to fight human trafficking and forced labour is informed by my previous work, explains Katie Ford.

Bringing awareness to this expansive issue is just the first step. There are obviously many factors that go into ending modern-day slavery, but in hopes of bringing change to the issue keep in mind the clothes you buy and the products you use!

Stella McCartney: Fashion And Sustainability

MILAN, ItalyStella McCartney was one of the first designers in the fashion business to embrace a sustainable attitude in her business model – from the production to the final collections.

“For every piece in every collection, I am always asking what have we done to make this garment more sustainable and what else can we do. It is a constant effort to improve…”

The company is always looking for new ways to be more sustainable as it feels responsible for the resources it uses and the impact its activities have on the planet. This sense of responsibility and forward thinking is present when they design their collections, when they manufacture the clothes and even when they open new stores.

Responsible Business

All Stella McCartney stores, offices and studios in the UK are powered by wind energy and abroad, they use renewable energy to power their stores and offices not to mention that 45% of their operations are run on 100% renewable, green energy. Equally interesting, in Stella McCartney‘s collections, they use as much organic cotton as possible and continue to do research to find new materials and new ecological processes.

Recycling is one of the key points of this company’s philosophy. In 2012, 34.3 metric tons of waste was diverted from landfill and recycled or reused – they recycle all textiles that could be used. Moreover, all Stella McCartney locations have recycling systems.

And when it comes to get involved in green projects, Stella McCartney did not hesitate to take part on the Natural Resource Defense Council NRDC Clean by Design Programme, becoming the first company of luxury goods to contribute to such initiatives. Clean by Design, “focuses on improving process efficiency to reduce waste and emissions and protect the environment”.

Textile manufacturing has a big environmental footprint, it pollutes around 200 tons of water per ton of fabric using many harmful chemicals, and consuming enormous amounts of energy for steam and hot water. This programme aims to reduce the use of water (about 25%) and energy (about 30%).

Stella McCartney: Fashion And Sustainability
Black Jacket / Black shirt in silk/ Paper Short in organic cotton/ Plexi Black Shoes/ Gold Falabela in faux leather
Stella McCartney: Fashion And Sustainability
Flower dress/ Yellow Falabella in faux leather/ Yellow shoes in cotton

Fashion and Sustainability

“I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that are not going to get burnt, that are not going to landfills and that are not going to damage the environment.”

“It’s really the job of fashion designers now to turn things on their head in a different way, and not just try to turn a dress on its head every season. Try and ask questions about how you make that dress, where you make that dress, what materials you are using.”

“I think that is far more interesting, actually. I think that the way to create sustainable fashion is to keep asking these questions while making sure to make desirable, luxurious, beautiful clothing and accessories that women want to buy.”

Among the Stella McCartney eco-friendly products we can find a sustainable eyewear collection made from over 50% natural and renewable resources using raw materials from natural origins such as castor-oil seeds and citric acid; the biodegradable soles made from a bioplastic called APINAT, which will degrade when placed in mature compost and the beautiful lingerie line, which uses recycled metal for hardware and organic cotton for the gussets.

These are just a portion of all the activities and initiatives undertaken by Stella McCartney. Undoubtedly, this is a very good example for the fashion industry, which unfortunately doesn’t always comply with such ethical practices. I hope that many other designers and established companies will follow her example in the years to come!