Kate Arnell, a TV presenter, writer and ethical YouTuber too, talks to People Tree about London Fashion Week and sustainable fashion.
1. What are your top 3 must have pieces for LFW?
A good coat that will carry you through the seasons. I have one that I bought second hand about 5 years ago by a Parisian brand called Arthur & Fox. The fabric is amazing; you can see it was really well made and it’s still going strong! It always gets A LOT of compliments too which just shows how something that is made well, in a timeless style can last through the changing trends. Slow style over fast fashion prevails! And let’s face it, it’s always cold out there, so a coat will get a lot of wear throughout the year.
Stripes. I love them (so do we Kate!). I generally don’t wear many prints but always feel confident in stripes. They look so effortless and eye catching in the right way. Again, they’re timeless and can be easily updated to incorporate trends as they come and go.
Sunglasses & Jewellery – because, let’s face it, sunnies look cool and everyone wears them at LFW! There are some awesome brands out there such as KOVERED or PROOF who both make the frames from sustainable wood. I’m also really into jewellery at the moment, which is kinda new for me. Tada & Toy are exhibiting at LFW this season – they make really fun and wearable jewellery and give 5% of their sales to the The Aspinall Foundation – a charity which works to return endangered animals to the wild. They have a strong relationship with their manufacturers who make their pieces by hand in Jaipur, India too. They’re great for stacking rings.
2. Who is your one to watch during LFW this season?
Too Good is a really unusual and interesting brand who have taken classic trade uniforms and reworked them into stylish pieces. Created by sisters Faye and Erica Toogood, their collection is made entirely in Britain, with a respect for local skilled workers and artisans using durable materials. I also love that inside each garment is sewn a unique identification document which credits the designers, manufacturers and distributors with some extra space for you to add your own name as part of the garment’s journey. How cool is that?!
I also think Bora Aksu has some fun designs. He’s a London based Turkish designer and I would describe his SS16 collection as a cross between Temperley and Dior. Very elegant, stylish and romantic. I have read that he sources his materials carefully, often using recycled, natural and hand-made fabrics. His designs caught my eye initially and then I was delighted to find out he takes a conscious approach.
3. Looking at SS16 trends, what are your tips to incorporate these to your wardrobe in an ethical way?
Lingerie and slips are pretty big for SS16 and so too are pyjamas so why not invest in some that you feel proud to wear outside of the bedroom. A beautiful silk pyjama shirt top can look so elegant as a day shirt. Or a simple slip or night dress can be turned into an evening top. I’ve started wearing a couple of my night gowns as tops and by using items in more ways than they were perhaps intended means you don’t need to buy as much “stuff” for your wardrobe, lessening the demand on the fashion industry. Also, by spending a little more on items that will last and that you’ll treasure for a while means you’re avoiding the cheap fast fashion industry too and your cost per wear will probably mean you spend less over all. Natural and sustainable materials are key, so I always look for items in organic cotton, silk (peace silk is even better!), linen and wool. Cheap, non-biodegradable and pesticide heavy fabrics damage the environment and health of the workers and honestly, who has ever treasured a cheap polyester top?
Stripes are back again this season, but have you noticed they’re always around every season in one way or another? Investing in classic items such as a simple breton top for example, means you will always look on point and timeless, and you can wear the item from season to season without looking dated; just update it with accessories. People Tree have some great stripes this season made ethically from organic cotton… can you tell I like a stripe much? I also try shopping second hand which is a great way of diverting items that are already in the waste stream and can be fun!
Floral prints are big for SS16 too and one UK based label doing it really well is Beautiful Soul London. All the prints are inspired by designer Nicola Woods’ childhood memories and she uses ethical and sustainable practices too, as well as British lace, which is great. The collections are made up of unique, timeless pieces designed to be cherished. By supporting designers who are doing things to lessen their impact on the environment and not exploiting workers is really important; where you spend your money is a great way to show your support for ethical practices.
Watch Kate’s favourite People Tree picks in her Spring / Summer 16 Street Style video!