Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

JesSpoke

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

It was on the craft market whilst looking for a coffee shop I found JesSpoke.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up.

They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

She was looking stunning dressed with one of her own designs.

I had a chat, would have stayed longer, but it was raining and a I had a coffee shop to find.

I regret I did not stay longer, ask her about her designs, and the materials used. I would recommend organic cotton and lambswool, both are soft to the touch and organic cotton better for the environment.

The problem is we are drowning in consumer junk, pointless consumerism. typified by M&S plastering their shop windows with Must Have.

Stuff stays in our possession all of six months, a brief respite en route from extraction and manufacture, to incineration or landfill.

In The Winner Stands Alone, Paulo Coelho has a brilliant critique of fast fashion.

It is all about image, be it wearing the latest fashion or consuming a can of coke. We think we are in control of our own destiny, but we are not, we are being manipulated by con men.

Fashion. Whatever can people be thinking? Do they think fashion is something that changes according to the season of the year? Did they really come from all corners of the world to show off their dresses, their jewellery and their collection of shoes? They don’t understand. ‘Fashion’ is merely a way of saying: ‘I belong to your world. I’m wearing the same uniform as your army, so don’t shoot.’

Ever since groups of men and women first started living together in caves, fashion has been the only language everyone can understand, even complete strangers. ‘We dress in the same way. I belong to your tribe. Let’s gang up on the weaklings as a way of surviving.’

But some people believe that ‘fashion’ is everything. Every six months, they spend a fortune changing some tiny detail in order to keep up their membership of the very exclusive tribe of the rich. If they were to visit Silicon Valley, where the billionaires of the IT industry wear plastic watches and beat-up jeans, they would understand that the world has changed; everyone now seems to belong to the same social class; no one cares any more about the size of a diamond or the make of a tie or a leather briefcase. In fact, ties and leather briefcases don’t even exist in that part of the world; nearby, however, is Hollywood, a relatively more powerful machine – albeit in decline – which still manages to convince the innocent to believe in haute-couture dresses, emerald necklaces and stretch limos. And since this is what still appears in all the magazines, who would dare destroy a billion-dollar industry involving advertisements, the sale of useless objects, the invention of entirely unnecessary new trends, and the creation of identical face creams all bearing different labels?

How perverse! Just when everything seems to be in order and as families gather round the table to have supper, the phantom of the Superclass appears, selling impossible dreams: luxury, beauty, power. And the family falls apart.

The father works overtime to be able to buy his son the latest trainers because if his son doesn’t have a pair, he’ll be ostracised at school. The wife weeps in silence because her friends have designer clothes and she has no money. Their adolescent children, instead of learning the real values of faith and hope, dream only of becoming singers or movie stars. Girls in provincial towns lose any real sense of themselves and start to think of going to the big city, prepared to do anything, absolutely anything, to get a particular piece of jewellery. A world that should be directed towards justice begins instead to focus on material things, which, in six months’ time, will be worthless and have to be replaced, and that is how the whole circus ensures that the despicable creatures gathered together in Cannes remain at the top of the heap.

What are people buying into, what are they paying a high price for? It is not the designer on the label as the design will have been by a young designer who wants out to set up his or her own label. It will have not even have been made by the company, it will have come from some Third World sweatshop, a dollar or less at the factory gate, one hundred dollars or more retail. All that people are paying for is the label, the brand name.

Not to be confused with buying real luxury, quality, for example a Montegrappa pen made by craftsmen, for when we buy something of quality, we tend to cherish it and keep it for life.

We need to move to Slow Fashion, emphasis on quality and style, clothes and other possessions we value, look after. The exact opposite of fast fashion, jumping to the diktat of fashionistas, cheap crap from sweatshops. Cheap crap that is worn a couple of times then thrown away.

On display at JesSpoke was as I would find on the autonomous street market in Athens, quality, and far better than the overpriced tat on the occasional craft market on Guildford High Street and at the markets at Farnham Maltings.

It was a miserable day, Lower Marsh empty, and no one appeared to be doing very well.

Advertisements

Naomi Wu

November 12, 2017

Didn’t get here by meekly doing what I was told. — Naomi Wu

Who is Naomi Wu?

A talented Chinese designer, a hacker, a coder, life imitating art, a Chinese real life Lisbeth Salander straight off the pages of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a punk, a cyberpunk.

Shades of Neuromancer, Blade Runner, Culture series.  Strong hint of steampunk.

In the 1960s, there used to be magazines with projects you could build, pop down to Johny Birkett in The Strait and he would have all the parts you need. He is still there by the way but nobody makes anything anymore.

In the 1970s, Wireless World would have designs for state-of-the-art amplifiers, loud speakers, FM tuners, record decks, short wave radios, all of which you could build yourself.

Naomi Wu aka Real Sexy Cyborg designs and builds the stuff herself, even better shows how she does it, how she puts what she builds into practice.

In the second or third in the series of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, a phone inserted in a prison cell, used as a relay, somewhere along the way, hack into a telecom system.

Need information on  a company. Build a drone, drop off a payload that intercepts wifi, download data, retrieve at a later date.

In the Culture world of Iain M Banks, have tiny drones that can deliver munitions, act as spies.

Neoromancer enter into the heart of the digital world.

Her designs span a wide range, dropping a payload on a building, unusual clothes, a battle vehicle.

And the range of design techniques, software, hardware, electronics, 3D printing, mechanical design.

Imagine a network of talented girls like Naomi Wu, with access to technology, access to the internet, access to 3D printing.

Instead of patenting what you design, you share, but have intellectual property rights that cannot be used by Big Business.  The actual development shared, others can suggest ideas for improvement, build prototypes, experiment.

The marginal cost of information stuff is tending to zero.

Her explanation of Open Source to the boss of a 3D printer manufacturers is one of the best explanations I have seen of Open Source. 

Pitched to the private sector, an invitation to join the Open Source community. 
You have a 3D printer, you need a part to fix it, use the 3D priner to fabricate the part. 

In Barcelona, the plan is to build FabLabs in every neighbourhood. Not only 3D printers, state-of-the-art machinery, and expertise on hand to help you use it.

We are now postcapitalism.

We  can have a world of Uber and Deleveroo, technology used for exploitation, a world of low paid, zero hours, temporary McShit jobs.

Or we can have a world of open coops, collaborative commons, sharing economy.

Uber has been kicked out of London. They way to kill Uber and Deliveroo  is through regulation and through the creation of open coop platforms, the taxi drivers and riders own the platform, share in its design and wealth creation, set the fares, open source, the community can help shape and design, the design can be shared and adopted and adapted by other cities.

Naomi Wu has come under a lot of stick, attacked by men, she cannot be real, she did not design the stuff.  Sad as it is pathetic.

The same mindset that thinks women are there to be abused.

She gets attacked for looking sexy, for how she dresses.

One sad pathetic example of humanity attacked her for wearing a pink dress.

She does though an excellent job of taking down the people who attack her and making them look the pathetic specimens of humanity that they are.

She is intelligent, articulate, and that really pisses off the trolls. How dare she, a mere slip of a girl, challenge them in their own world.

Then it is a state of denial, she must be a toy or a robot, someone else is telling her what to do.

She has to prove she is real.

Editor of Make magazine Dale Dougherty made the astounding claim

I am questioning who she [Naomi Wu] really is. Naomi is a persona, not a real person. She is several or many people.

Which he was then forced to withdraw and issue a grudging apology.

But the damage had been done. It legitimised the attacks on her.

Shenzhen is the tech capital of China, which means it is the tech capital of the world.

In Istanul is the Spice Market. Shenzhen has the tech version of the Spice Market.

Shenzhen exists at the intersection of technology and art, a cyber punk world where anything goes. Naomi Wu can walk the streets scantily clad, wearing bizarre outfits, even visit a company HQ, she attracts attention but does not get attacked.  On the other hand if she is seen as a competent designer, pushing the bounds, all hell breaks loose.

The attacks on her are not on the street, they are on-line.

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

20160529_160024[1]

Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

Kirki’s Eye

October 13, 2016
Kirki's Eye Athen's Design Spot

Kirki’s Eye Athens Design Spot

Strong attention to detail.

Reminded of citrus and Nia Boutique in Cyprus.

The Fair Shop

September 5, 2016
The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

I came across The Fair Shop walking down to the seafront on a trip to Brighton.

Sustainable fashion, slow fashion, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers a fair price, clothes we value.

One range in The Fair Shop, was from a group of women in Malawi.

Fashion is one of the most damaging industries on the planet, from cotton that is one of the most polluting and water intensive crops grown, to the hazardous chemicals used to processes and die the cotton, to the sweatshop labour used to make the clothes, through to disposal clothes, worn once and then thrown away.

But it does not have to be.

The Fair Shop in Brighton is an example that shows it does not have to be, as does Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus.

Nia Boutique through the looking glass

June 7, 2016

image

Nia Boutique as seen through the looking glass.

Nia Boutique

May 31, 2016

20160529_160024[1]

Nia Boutique

Slow fashion is to fashion what slow food is to food, the opposite of fast food.

Slow fashion is low impact, sustainable, style.

Fast fashion is sweatshops, disposable, fashion.

Nia Boutique is slow fashion, ethical.

Located next to an excellent coffee shop, Miyu, it is in the open air, as one would find on a Greek island.

On hand is the designer herself, Sophie.

Nia Boutique is located overlooking Fig Tree Bay.

citrus.

October 5, 2015
citrus.

citrus.

citrus. An upmarket boutique in centre of Protaras, opposite Vrissiana Beach Hotel, that opened in May, are now opening a second shop in Paralimni.

Russell Brand sweatshirts from sweatshops?

June 12, 2015

Many garment-producing countries have minimum wages that are less than half of the value of a wage that is enough to allow a family to live with dignity. — Anna McMullen, Labour Behind the Label

A hatchet job in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Shoddy reporting. Nothing more than a hatchet job on Russell Brand. Weasel words like grade-A hypocrite.

Russell Brand made a mistake. In good faith he placed a contract with assurances on production. When these assurances proved to be false, he admitted he got it wrong, pulled the contract.

Could the reporter not have gone to Russell Brand and said, did you know the conditions of production? But no, run to Daily Mail, Do Not Pass Go, collect thirty pieces of silver on the way.

Surely the focus should be on the company,  not Russell Brand? For who else are they delivering non-ethical clothes?

The company, Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, admitted to the Daily Mail it had problems with illegal overtime in the Bangladesh factories.

According to the Daily Mail its clients include Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Stanley & Stella claim its workers are paid more and forced to do less overtime than in rival factories

The most important thing that makes our business a sustainable business, it is that we commit to have continuous improvements pushing forward all kind of barriers.

The company claims it is working to reduce illegal levels of overtime at the factory and had ended contracts with other factories which refused to stop pushing workers into 90-hour weeks.

Even the Daily Mail is forced to admit that industry regulator, Fair Wear Foundation, says the factory is one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators.

Thus even from accounts in the Daily Mail, the company Russell Brand placed his contract with is better than the industry average, not only better ‘one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators’. Not good, not ideal, but not quite as bad as the Daily Mail would have its readers to believe.

If the Daily Mail is now so keen to highlight the plight of workers in Third World sweatshops, will we be reading a few more stories, the first of a series, this time highlighting the big name fashion brands? Will the Daily Mail be refusing adverts from these brands until they clean up their act?

Stanley & Stella claim high ethical standards, that they are on the ground monitoring factories. How do they then explain workers paid less than a living wage, forced to do illegal overtime? How do they justify the huge disparity between low production costs and high retail price?

The Mail has discovered that those who make sweatshirts for Brand’s website work for up to 11 hours a day.

The starting monthly wage is 6,200 Bangladeshi taka (TK) a month, or around £52. This works out at around £1.98 a day, excluding overtime.

The minimum legal wage for Bangladesh is TK5,300 (£44.21) per month. That is far short of the TK25,687 – around £214 – which campaigners say is the minimum living wage.

Russell Brand placed his contract in good faith.

A big difference to the fashion industry whose buyers know exactly what is going on. They play factory against factory, country against country, to force down prices. They could just as easily use their buying power to force up labour and environmental standards, but they do not.

But real issues are raised. Workers are being exploited in sweatshops, not only by Primark, also brands selling expensive clothes, with massive mark-ups, fools and their money easily parted for a label.

Factory gate price around a dollar, retail in the shops around $70. A huge mark up. The wages to the workers could easily be doubled, and it would make not a jot of difference to the retail price.

Gap, WalMart, Hugo Boss, a very long list.

What you pay for is the label.

If the Daily Mail was interested in the fate of workers in sweatshops, they would be exposing Gap and other big names.

Big names play one factory against another, one country against another, to force down prices. They know what goes on in the factories, but prefer to turn a blind eye.

Questions need to be answered by Russell Brand on the massive mark up, where the clothes are being made, the wages of the workers, the hours worked, the working conditions.

Also, what social enterprises are being supported? We know Trew Era Cafe has been supported with money from Revolution.

Transparency is important for credibility. Set higher standards, force others to follow.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops. Maybe a Trews on the topic.

Labour Behind the Label are part of a European network on sweatshops.

Maybe a different approach is needed.

A few years ago, Paulo Coelho did a deal, whereby Mango sold limited edition t-shirts. The proceeds went to support kids in a favela in Rio through the Paulo Coelho Institute. Paulo and his wife Christina support these kids. One way is selling limited edition art and jewellery through Etsy.

The Way of the Bow has been produced as a collaborative effort. People can download for free. If they wish, they can make a donation to support the kids in the favela.

We used to have dark Satanic mills producing fabrics, they dominated the landscape. Now few are left. In their heyday they destroyed the India cotton industry, now it is the other way around. But, take into account shipping, employment conditions, it is now viable to produce quality clothes in these mills. Maybe one can be contracted to produce, or maybe the model Paulo Coelho used with Mango.

The East End of London used to be home to many sweatshops. Do any still exist?

Talking to my own contacts. T-shirts/sweatshirts retailing at a tenner, a fiver from supplier. A 100% mark-up. Supplier sources direct from sweatshops in Bangladesh. How much would it cost to source if specified unbleached organic cotton, living wage, no illegal overtime?

Advantage of production in the dark Satanic mills is better control. Can we trust what we are told in Bangladesh with the level of corruption?

Look to Barcelona, interlocking coops. When something is needed, a new coop is established. Crowd fund one of the East End sweatshops as a coop. Community owned, better pay and working conditions, producing clothes for other social enterprises.

The design of the sweatshirts poor. Remove what is on the back, retain small logo on the front. This would also reduce costs.

citrus.

May 23, 2015
citrus.

citrus.

shoes

shoes

Last Sunday was the opening night of citrus.

But as luck would have it, my flight was late.

citrus. is proving popular with Russian girls who are happy to spend money on quality but not on tourist tat.

citrus. An upmarket boutique in centre of Protaras, opposite Vrissiana Beach Hotel.