Style & Substance at London Fashion Week

London Fashion Week kicked off today and for eight years Estethica, LFW's dedicated ethical showroom, has showcased the best conscious fashion. Designers are selected according to certain criteria – they must have style i.e ‘design’ excellence’, and substance aka 'ethical commitment', meaning they must fulfill at least one of the following: fair trade and ethical practice in the production process; the inclusion of organic fibres; or the use of up-cycled and recycled fabrics and materials.

This season, for the first time, the established designers have received the new Estethica tag and are now sitting alongside designers in the main London Fashion Week exhibition at Somerset House, be that in Ready to Wear, or Accessories.

I spoke to co-founder and co-curator of Estethica, Orsola de Castro, also founder of From Somewhere, about the changes and the future of Estethica.

“Introducing the stalwart ethical brands into the exhibition is a long-term plan - we always wanted the main brands, the big established brands to be seen as part of the mainstream and not in a special area.”

For now though, there are only four established designers to receive the Estethica tag: Pachacuti (as seen in main image above), Bottletop, Mich Dulce and Katrien Van Hecke. “In terms of the main brands in the exhibition, unfortunately the exhibition is very small so that’s why we couldn’t accommodate as many as perhaps I would have liked”.

Louise de Testa, womenswear ethical fashion desginer

For AW14 the Estethica showroom is home to five 'emerging talents', Cangiari, Devika Dass, Flavia La Rocca, K2TOG and Louise de Testa (above), some of whom are showing their very first collection. “We always want to be supporting the super, super young talent. So, I am delighted with the special [Estethica showroom] area – I think that the emerging talents are amazing, I’ve been following some of them for years.”

So what can these new designers expect to get from the experience? “It’s a massive pleasure to go out and recruit them and mentor them a little bit before they come in, they have a free stand for two seasons, they will be benefiting from all sorts of mentoring and Estethica activities.”

This is certainly not something to be sniffed at. Aside from being given this showcase at London Fashion Week, reaching an audience of around 5000 press and buyers, these new designers will receive some invaluable industry guidance and support. Perhaps they too will go on to show their collections in the ‘mainstream’ exhibition in a few seasons time.

Coming soon: a rundown of all the AW14 Estethica designers, both established and emerging. Watch this space…

 

Main image: Pachacuti.

 

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Founder and Director of The Good Wardrobe. Lover of charity shops and mending stuff.  New to Bristol. Follow on twitter

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