Last night was the tenth Observer Ethical Awards, a merry celebration of the organisations and campaigners who champion environmental and social justice, also known as the green Oscars. These awards attract thousands of entries, and the winners are chosen by a team of judges passionate about all things ethical. This year’s judges included founder of Kids Company Camila Batmanghelidjh, entrepreneur and star of Dragon’s Den Deborah Meaden and Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace, to name a few. Past winners have gone on to change conservation law, taught thousands of children how to be green and secured funding for designs that change the way we store clean energy, which is all a bit impressive, really, isn’t it? As you may already know, Beyond Skin were very proud to win the Sustainable Fashion Award last year in 2014, with a big shiny trophy to boot! This year, Heather and Natalie joined in last night’s festivities at the V&A Museum in London for a slap up meal and to cheer along this year’s victorious winners and runners up.
The Sustainable Style Award is sponsored by Livia Firth’s Eco Age, a brilliant sustainability brand consultancy helping businesses develop and achieve more sustainable practices. Here’s the lowdown on the nominees for the Sustainable Style Award this year.
Winner: Nudie Jeans
Big congratulations to Swedish denim label Nudie Jeans, the winners for the 2015 Sustainable Style award! These jeans are designed to be long term, fully committed members of your wardrobe. Each pair comes with a detailed schedule on breaking them in and a guide on when’s best to wash them, which inevitably breeds an attitude of care and responsibility towards clothing. They fully embrace the principle of slow fashion, and proactively encourage customers to repair, reuse and recycle their jeans, either creatively at home or using Nudie Jeans’s highly accommodating services in store. Nudie Jeans have no end of ideas of how to make the most of their denim; they’ve made rag rugs out of worn out jeans, upholstered old chairs and created denim patchwork sofas for their office. No denim need be discarded again.
Responsible and ethical values sink deep in to their production processes, as Nudie Jeans are part of the Fair Wear Foundation, which strives to improve working conditions in the textile industry. They have plenty of information on their suppliers and subcontractors with a transparency that should be far more commonplace in the fashion industry than it currently is. Also, Nudie Jeans use 100% organic cotton, which is a very commendable achievement indeed. Nudie Jeans embody true ethical denim craftsmanship.
Runner Up: Here Today Here Tomorrow
One of the runners up for the Sustainable Style Award last night were sustainable fashion studio shop Here Today Here Tomorrow, based in East London. First off, that’s a great name for a sustainable label, isn’t it? As a collective fashion design label, they showcase handpicked brands, each deserving of admiration for their sustainability. We dig their ethos, which champions Fairtrade, the handmade and using organic materials. They also aim to give customers an insight into the materials, time and skills required to create their clothes, jewellery and accessories, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of what’s involved in hand crafting a product. Another big part of Here Today Here Tomorrow’s work is providing handy workshops on knitting, sewing and natural dyeing, so more customers are able to recycle their own old garments and textiles. Nifty.
One particular product that caught our eye was these simple and elegant earrings made by Sarah Graham Jones, which are actually transformed fork handles! Who’d have guessed? Honestly, it blew my mind. We have big respect for being so creative just using everyday objects. Check out the rest of their ware too; their website is teeming with funky designs, and there’s currently a sale on, don’t you know.
Runner Up: Java Rock Necklace
The other runner up for this award was the Java Rock Necklace, handmade by high-end jeweller Rosalie McMillan in collaboration with recyclable technologies expert Adam Fairweather. This necklace expertly balances ethics and aesthetics, and we love the jaunty geometric angles of McMillan’s design. The phrase “cutting edge” certainly wouldn’t be out of place here. McMillan often creates asymmetrical structures using unique materials, and each item is hand crafted in London. Plus 10% of her profits are donated to Grounds For Health, an organisation aiming to reduce cervical cancer in the coffee-producing countries of the world.
The high-tech materials developed by Fairweather and used in this gorgeous piece needs a bit of explaining, so strap in. These days, there’s normally a coffee shop on every corner, and Fairweather noticed that only up to 22% of the bean is used in making a cup of coffee. After discovering this waste, he started up the Greencup scheme which provides Fairtrade coffee to offices, and then scoops up their waste coffee to use it as fertiliser. Smart, isn’t it? Then in 2013, Fairweather then started up Re-Worked, which uses Greencup’s collected coffee waste to create Çurface. This solid material was used in furniture, coffee machines and now in jewellery, as in McMillan’s Java Rock collection. Now that’s innovation. This particular treasure is made using Fairtrade recycled silver, and the pendent from Çurface. Who knew that coffee ground could look so luxurious?