By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist
Kit Willow is an Australian designer who, after a decade of making a name for herself on the international fashion scene, designing the label Willow, ran into a rough patch losing her business and rights to her name. But a name alone doesn’t keep a great designer down and after taking a year off to be with her young kids, she concepted her next collection, an organic and ethically sourced designer label, KITX. And before you could say ‘relaunch,’ buyers were soon invited to a strong Paris showing with an invitation noting her journey “From hell to heaven in 12 months.”
Her new eco-conscious line reflects none of the stereotypical ‘hippie granola vibe’ associated with ethical fashion of the early 2000’s. Willow sourced wools, silks, cottons and other fabrications that were developed in ways to minimize their impact on the environment. But to the fashion flock, who are known to suffer for form over function, the clothes themselves have to be desirable. And fortunately on this point Willow continues to deliver her draping prowess that won her many fans in her previous incarnation, including Kate Moss, Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Cara and Poppy Delevingne, Florence Welch and Olivia Palermo. The result is a collection that is every bit as expressive and sophisticated as many on the Parisian runway.
I strongly believe in a better world though the simple mantra of making women look and feel beautiful without harming our precious planet. Everyone can win.
Many question if the consumer cares about the virtues of ethical fashion or ask why should they. The Impression wanted to hear from Ms. Willow herself on the subject and gave her the floor to share why ethical fashion matters.
5 REASONS ETHICAL FASHION MATTERS by Kit Willow
- Fashion and Textile industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world – many stages are required in order to make a garment – from farming, creation of fibers, dying, cut and make, shipping, retail, packaging and right through to how the consumer cares. Currently the majority at every stage pollutes, harms both people and planet. Cotton production alone contributes to 20% of the world’s water pollution. There are solutions available at every stage that creates minimal harm, if not positive impact, on planet and people.
- The precious natural resources on our planet are finite and ethical and sustainable fashion is simply about sourcing consciously and making informed decisions that don’t cost these finite resources and don’t cost the business more either. In most cases, materials that are sustainable and have low environmental impact are not more expensive – in some cases if they are more expensive, like recycled plastic used in zippers by YKK and RIRI, it’s simply because the scale isn’t there to achieve highly competitive pricing. In those cases, the more demand, the more the prices will become more aligned.
- The next generation of artisan skill is increasingly being lost to the developing world with jobs in telecommunications, real estate etc. The luxury world love this hand-developed artisan magic – the more designers supporting these artisans and working directly with them, the more demand and commercial viability for the next generation to embrace. Keep the artisan skill alive – Nest in NY do a wonderful job of creating access to markets and opportunities for people who live in the developing world through partnering with fair trade artisans.
- The fabric of the future should come from materials in the past, 95% of discarded clothing can be recycled or upcycled, and an over-supply of discarded material exists in landfill and oceans, so why not turn plastic rubbish from oceans into a polyester lycra as ECONYL do, or turn discarded gold brass bullet casings into buttons made by artisans, or PET bottles into zips as YKK and RIRI do, all this saves CO2 and nitrous oxide emissions while it also helps clean up our precious resources.
- The better the quality and love the customer has for the product, the less likely the garment ends up in landfill. Ethical and sustainable fashion should be termed as being even more desirable, since if it’s true style, it lasts and is loved.
Ok, so The Impression gets it. Especially that ‘true style lasts and is loved.’ And obviously from the look of the collection, Kit Willow gets it, too.