British designer makes ethical and sustainable fashion line
Posted: Jun 27, 2016
IN A world where fast, easy and cheap fashion is all the rage, one fashion designer is trying to prove that ethical and sustainable fashion can be just as trendy.
Kitty Ferreira UK is an award-winning womenswear brand that aims to dispel the ‘hippy’ connotations of eco-friendly fashion by juxtaposing elegant city chic with ethical values. The brand makes use of upcycled materials and fabrics eco-dyed by hand with natural materials including pomegranate and onion skins.
The label was created by London College of Fashion graduate, Valerie Goode, after she was headhunted to work in China as a senior womenswear designer and witnessed the horrendous pollution.
With celebrity endorsement and a Royal College of Art award under its belt, the brand aims to pioneer UK training and job creation, selling sustainably made luxury items in a sustainable fashion with a down-to-earth, conscious ethos.
The Kitty Ferreira label is based on foundational values, also taking reference from her late grandmother’s Caribbean lifestyle, which the label is named after.
Here, Goode talks to The Voice about how she plans on developing the brand
Why did you name the brand after your late grandmother?
She was my main inspiration. She lived in Trinidad and when I’d go over there to visit her, I just loved the more natural way of life where you use the earth to heal yourself and feed yourself. It’s completely different to living in a cosmopolitan city like London. I certainly drew upon that for inspiration. I blended these two different worlds to create an ethical, sustainable, natural womenswear brand that has a very chic aesthetic.
You’ve worked with some pretty big brands including Topshop, Miss Selfridge and Burberry, what made you want to start your own line?
I got fed up with the whole fast-fashion supply chain. It’s a very toxic industry. Fashion is the second most polluting industry behind oil. You hear about slave labour, child labour and sweat shops, but people don’t consider how crops like cotton are grown either.
SUSTAINABLE THINKING: Designer Valerie Goode
You worked in China for a year, what was your experience there?
Whilst I was there, I experienced the pollution out there, and it’s so bad that I actually found it hard to breathe.
Because I witnessed this pollution, I felt like I needed to do something about it. So when I decided to launch my own company, I decided to source all my materials from the UK, using upcycled fabrics, so I don’t make new fabric from scratch. I source as much as I can from the UK to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible.
A lot of people think of upcyling as something to do with hippies and things that are not the best quality. How did you go about branding yourself so that wasn’t the case?
There is this hippy connotation with ethical and sustainable fashion, and right from the start I was conscious to challenge that perception. In fact, the true definition of upcycling is to take an existing product and turning it in to a better product, of better value.
What’s your overall message to consumers?
I like to think fashion can tell a story not only based on style or an era, but based on values. As a black woman who has seen how everything works in the fashion industry, and how unethical it is, I feel like it’s my duty to do something about it. I think it’s my place to call out these fast fashion supply chains. It is difficult because we’re in a capitalist system where the majority of shoppers are interested in cheap fashion and fast fashion. Hopefully there will be a time when change comes. At some point there will be a huge change – hopefully in my lifetime!
What’s next for you and the Kitty Ferreira brand?
The big vision is to rival these big unethical high street stores and brands. I’m hoping sometime this year I will have my own retail space.
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