Sunday, May 29, 2011

A saint once said

There's a couplet by the revered Indian poet-saint
Kabir (incidentally, connected to the clothing trade in a way -- he was a weaver) that teaches us that it is not a person that conquers a situation, it is time. Same person, different time and the results can be unexpectedly altered ('purush bali nahin hot hai, samay hote balwaan; bheelan maari gopika, vahi Arjun vahi baarnd').

And so it is with ethical fashion. Casting my mind back to 2007-8 I can recall the quizzical looks I got at dinner parties when the subject was mentioned (by me only, of course). I was once even asked by a fellow school mother how my business in 'ethnical' fashion was going. Business minded types looked askance almost immediately when they heard I was starting an online business selling ethical or eco fashion.....many simply looked past my ear, scanning the room for a less ditzy conversation partner.

And here we are now -- same subject, different time -- and the response has changed noticeably. Eco fashion is a well recognised topic, feted far and wide. Vogue sponsors a Green Style Blog and Livia Firth's Green Carpet Challenge begets nods of recognition rather than head shakes of puzzlement. Ethical fashion makes its presence known at (no less than) the dinner in honour of Barack and Michelle Obama's London visit and, the launch party for (the inimitable) Lucy Siegles' new book 'To Die For' has a glitterati guest list to be reckoned with, including Sheherazade Goldsmith, Alice Temperley and Laura Bailey. Esthetica, London Fashion Week's collection of ethical fashion labels superbly curated by Orsola de Castro and Filippo Ricci, has always been a fantastic microcosm of the 'space' but rather than shouting to be heard, it is now honoured by Global Cool, as it celebrates its 5th birthday (the most picturesque note about which you can read here, courtesy ecouterre.). As if all that is not enough, at last count I rated about 40+ blogs, centrally connected to ethical fashion, as worthy.

Now thats what I call being known and being heard, loud and clear. Fashion's intellectually superior, cool-because-I-got-the-brains-AND-the-looks sister, has arrived to stay. Over the next little while, this blog will sat-nav its readers across the changed landscape of the relationship between these siblings.....

A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves - a special kind of double. ~Toni Morrison

Monday, January 31, 2011

Saturday Swishing at Spitalfields

Winter's not quite behind us but the spring/summer 2011 collection 'round-ups' are upon us and upon us. Time to close your eyes and visualise yourself in sheer dresses, leather shorts, capri pants, cat woman sunglasses, clogs and more. More to the point, time to open your eyes and peer in your closet. Does it have what it takes?

If you are not in the mood to spend as you would have in years past don't fret....just stay with me; however, if you are, then perhaps you should first and foremost, aquaint yourself with why austerity is the name of the game for the next little while and then return to me.

Okay cautious spenders, next step: take from your closet clothes you won't be wearing/are happy to see the back of/have never worn; mentally note your favourite new season looks and then, on February 5 (Saturday) head to the historic Old Spitalfields Market for the first major swishing event of the year.

Swishing is just over 10 years old and is, basically a way to keep your wardrobe fresh by recycling what you no longer want for what you definitely want. Its upscaling of sorts, ie, the by -product has more value than what first went in...which for you it will. Most of you are well aware of the glorious, ethically brilliant idea that swishing is but if you want to know more read this.

Meanwhile, the rules for this Saturday are pitch up at Spitalfields between 11am and midday to drop off your contribution (you have to bring at least 1 good-for-wear thing). Chillax in the cool environs till 2pm when you can browse but not (yet) swish. At 2.45 get swishing. Tickets and full details now available online.

And remember to be civil to your fellow swishers. It is after all an ethical event.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

DeviDoll Pure, New, Fresh but Different

Mocuin, Stars and The Moon, last Autumn

Its been a while since we here at DeviDoll have had something to say...actually we have had lots to say but just not enough time to put it down here....much else going on including re-thinking DeviDoll strategy, adding to the family and moving home.

But now as PURE London kicks off the 2010 fashion week/trade show season it is time to get back into the swing of things. Sort of...yes and no. We're getting back into it my being on the scene once again: commenting on what is interesting, relevant and new in ethical fashion across the globe; taking a view on what's being said and done -- so that is the YES part.

The NO part is (are you sitting down?) that is taking a sabbatical. Yep, taking some time off. Family commitments on the part of our founder, Sindhu Venkatanarayanan coupled with needing to re-energize the proposition -- retailing ethical fashion is wonderful but not necessarily the most effective way of being a 'design incubator' in the space as DeviDoll has been and always intended to be -- require we sit out for a while, practice some mindfulness and be less actor, more observer.

Having said all this, even as she stands back from, Sindhu has already deepened her involvement with ethical fashion by joining the Ethical Fashion Forum board. Her focus is on
building partnerships with supplier networks in the developing world, particularly India. The goal is to offer increased market access for fair trade and community suppliers as well as larger suppliers. After all, India offers particular opportunities for growth in its fair trade supplier marketplace thanks to its growing excellence in fashion design and opportunities to link skilled designers with producer groups. This role is one way that Sindhu can personally help the global fashion industry to progress, and to bring fairly traded and ethically produced clothing onto the global high street and into more wardrobes.

And so to the matter of kicking off the new season with PURE. This show has come a long way in a short time -- this time a year ago it did not attract the same number or quality of ethical fashion design that it is today (read here for the first time any mag linked glam green fashion with this show...August 2009, that's gotta tell you something!). We have invites from Julia Smith, EJF, Terra Plana, Komodo, Article 23, and the unmatched Beyond Skin. It will be interesting to see how PURE is rated versus Estethica which is part of LFW starting next week. We'll be at both, ferreting, chit-chatting, observing and noting as we do. So stay tuned.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

DeviDoll congratulates Stewart+Brown!

This month's US Vogue features A WHOLE PAGE on Stewart+Brown. FINALLY......

....not, that is, FINALLY Vogue says something about ethical fashion -- this it has done before (to varying degrees, more edgily in the UK publication than in the US; but no surprise there, etc etc).

Rather, my point is, FINALLY Vogue (and that too the US version -- sorry am I belabouring a point here?) has, so prominently, stepped away from moulding it's eco-fashion talk around usual usual (yawn) labels like Stella McCartney and, instead, picked a label that is from the 'little-known-outside-ethical-fashion-world' (think, for example, Estethica at LFW).

That it is Stewart+Brown comes as no surprise given the unselfconsciously chic collection this label brings us, the luxurious fabrics it uses (and in some cases, such as its socially responsible Mongolian cashmere, helped pioneer) and the founders' (Howard Brown and Karen Stewart) enduring commitment to professional business standards combined with transparency and excellence in the area of green/ethical/eco - fashion.

As the first UK boutique to stock Stewart+Brown's cashmere in 2007, DeviDoll always knew glory was just a matter of see it so soon is gratifying indeed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wishing you a warm and cheerful festive season!

Have you decided what type of Christmas you'll be having this year? A quiet one with family and a few carefully selected gifts? A blow-out glamorous bonanza to treat yourself at the end of a tough year?

Here at DeviDoll, we've decided to enjoy a whole season of warmth, love and good feeling, rather than focus too much on the present-giving fest of just one day.

2009 has been a challenging year for families around the world, as we've worried about our jobs, our finances, our health and our stress levels. Of course, it's been that way for years for families in those countries that are regularly exploited to bring cheap Christmas gifts and winter fashions to our high street.

Now as the year draws to an end, isn't it the perfect time to gather together with the people that mean most to us, and celebrate the fact that despite what we might have endured this year, we have each other and can share good times in simple ways?

It doesn't take a bankers' bonus or a Christmas dinner table the size of a developing nation to celebrate what's important at this time of year.

Instead of going overboard with presents, why not choose one special item that can be treasured for longer than the Christmas tree will be up? Better still, make it a present that has already given something to the people that made it - maybe it's fair trade, or maybe the maker donates to charity.

We'd also recommend presents that have a uniqueness about them - perhaps they're made from vintage pieces or reclaimed textiles, and no two are the same. It's a great way to make important people to feel loved.

The festive season is a lovely time for feeling an inner warm glow, and not just from too much mulled wine! It's a nurturing and nesting time of year, too. To get that cosy feeling invest in the best ethically made knitwear you can afford, and a winter coat that will last for years.

It might seem a little strange for us to be recommending you spend carefully and thoughtfully rather than splurge this Christmas - after all, aren't we boutiques supposed to champion sales? - but to me it seems perfectly DeviDoll.

Below you'll find are our carefully chosen pieces for a considerate, warm and ethical festive season. Beyond these, we say stop shopping, pop on a warm coat in a bright colour, and go share an hour with a friend you've not seen for way too long.

Happy Festive season! Make it a warm one!

Sindhu x

Our picks for warm and cheerful season
For an exquisite and long-lasting piece in vintage cashmere, choose the Deborah Lindquist Snowflake cardigan in vintage cashmere.

To ensure a continuous income for local Peruvian craftsmen, choose the Aymara Elaya sweater in babylama wool.

To support local artisans and age-old handicrafts in India, choose the Payal Jain one-of-a-kind wool coat (pictured above).

To show a loved one you value their uniqueness, choose the Adorn The Parlours Of Heaven Necklace from AK Vintage, made from reclaimed materials.

To spread the warmth to your home, choose the Wild Divine Jaya Throw. No two are ever alike.


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