Credit - Safiya Dhanani

The end of Green Week was marked by a fashion show that proved that being ethical can extend further than wearing hemp and crazy fabrics.

The show kicked off with a bang as models strutted out to pumping music with faces decorated in tribal style bright and glittery make-up. Showcasing clothing from local shops Superdry and Fox&Bhut helped to communicate the importance of shopping locally, as well as buying fair trade materials. From Superdry, of the moment lumberjack shirts were paired with baggy jeans and biker boots for boys and short denim skirts with puffer jackets for the girls. From Fox&Bhut stunning tribal print dresses floated elegantly down the catwalk, evoking nostalgia for summer.

The student designers’ offerings were to me, the most impressive. They had taken the concept of green fashion even further, producing their clothing from recyclable materials. The first outfit was a dress made entirely from newspaper and teamed with a waist belt. The clean lines and elegant pleats created by the material looked easily wearable and chic. The hat covered in bottle caps was a fun, tongue-in-cheek piece. Rebecca Butler, one of the student designers, discussed how ethical fashion helped her to “marry academic interests with creative interests” and emphasised the importance of how the show goes beyond fashion in its attempt to engage the audience with environmental issues as well.

Safiya Dhanani
GWF was a unique event promoting ethical and fair-trade clothing as well as an interesting insight into a way that every individual can make a difference. Hopefully the show will develop over time so that it can really make an impact.

India Doyle

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Safiya DhananiThe show was coordinated by Inês Geraldes Cardoso and here the fashion editor Rosie Steer interviews her.

What did you want to achieve by running such a fashion show?

When I came up with the idea of GWF I was hoping to integrate fashion into the issues of sustainability and green living, and to captivate the interest of the wider student population of St Andrews who might generally not be immediately drawn to “green” issues. St Andrews is home to an incredibly fashion-driven student community with highly professional shows hosted annually, but as of now, there is still very little emphasis placed on ethical and eco fashion, and a lot of space to explore and develop this aesthetic avenue. GWF was not intended to be a high profile, professional show but more of a chilled-out statement event, aiming to draw more attention to Green Week as a whole and diffusing the message of eco-fashion and local shopping.

An extremely worthwhile cause. So more specifically what was the message of the show?

The show’s main message was to promote “green consumerism” and to raise awareness for shopping locally by making visible to students the wealth of products available in St Andrews. St Andrews is a very small town, and students often resort to shopping in Dundee, Edinburgh or even further afield for a wider range of options and greater variety. Consuming is an integral part of the life of the average young person, but the way in which it is done can have a huge impact on the environment in terms of our carbon footprint and on the very people implicated in the process of producing the clothes, i.e. in ethical terms.
In the show, we showcased brands from Fox&Bhut and Superdry, two St Andrews shops that offer some amazing options in terms of quality and visual appeal, and more importantly, provide students with the option of looking glam and loving the planet, as shown by the beautiful eco and ethically-sourced clothing available at Fox & Bhut. Examples include La Lesso, Johari and Christopher Raeburn.

Safiya Dhanani
Furthermore, the show also drew attention to the incredible amount of student design talent in St Andrews by asking 5 designers; Sian Tarrant, Maggie Zhang, Christina Palmou, Rebecca Butler, Valerie Klasan, to interpret an eco theme or utilise reusable materials in the production of their designs. From a couture-looking newspaper dress, to a fully suited eco-warrior, to slogan tshirts and upcycled tweed and denim, the designers proved that fashion can be green and green can be fashion. 

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Safiya DhananiFashion is often dubbed fickle or shallow. Do you think this world can ever fully marry with sustainability and green ethics?

Absolutely! I think we can clearly see a trend developing in fashion where ethical and eco choices are the prerogative. Examples include the various green and ethical fashion shows and forums that happen all over the world. However, this is not necessarily only the case for alternative brands or designers. Increasingly, the grandes maisons of fashion are taking it upon themselves to pioneer a shift in consumer-attitudes. A case in point? Karl Lagerfeld’s recent comments at the Chanel 2010 Autumn/Winter show, where the set included an enormous iceberg and the room temperature was deliberately chilled in order to make a statement: “Global warming is the issue of our times. Fashion has to address it,” Lagerfeld said afterward.  And fur was everywhere — boots, skirts, trousers, bags — but all faux.  Lagerfeld said he went with faux fur for two reasons: first, Fendi does the best real furs and he doesn’t want to compete, and second: “Technical advances are so perfect you can hardly tell fake fur from the real thing. Fake is not chic — we have got a new Chanel tweed to stop copies — but fake fur is.”(http://www.fashionologie.com/Chanel-Fall-2010-All-Faux-Fur-Icebergs-7683741)  Contrary to widespread criticism, I believe that fashion and aesthetics have a huge role to play in driving home the message of eco living. The visual language transcends barriers, and is present everywhere, influencing the majority of our choices as consumers. Fashion can have a positive influence, in helping make the shift towards a world operating on sustainable industries.

Who is your favourite “green” designer?

I am perpetually in love with the Brazilian brand Osklen which creates beautiful sculptural, organic designs through sober, simple colors and lines that reflect the shapes of nature but are adapted to the urban lifestyle and exude a sense of “Brasileiridade” (being Brasilian). The brand was identified as “Future Maker” by the WWF UK, and the founder of the brand, Oskar Metsavaht, also created the “e institute”, a non-profit Rio de Janeiro-based institution, aiming to promote “sustainable human development”.  I also love Stella McCartney and fell in love with the creativity and conceptual nature of Christopher Raeburn’s jackets and coats which I discovered at Fox&Bhut while organising GWF.

Rosie Steer

Images: Safiya Dhanani