Tag Archives: fashion

Beading Beautiful

5 Dec

Fashion Editor Zoe Robinson delves into the world of decorative hand-work and asks how a high street bag can possibly be cheaper than a sarnie.

Azuni fair trade beaded bracelet, £56

The new fair trade jewellery collection from Azuni got me thinking about the beaded skeletons in my closet.

Ten years ago, I bought a beaded evening bag from Primark.  I loved the colours, pattern and the price tag (£2) seemed too good to be true.

Fast forward ten years and I am now a far more conscious shopper. Whereas in my teens and early 20s I used to fuel my shopping addiction regularly and blindly, I now stop to consider the provenance of what I spend my money on.  Now I vote with my wallet.  If something seems too good – or too cheap – to be true, it probably is.

Back then it didn’t occur to me to think “how can a bag, covered in thousands of tiny beads cost less than a sandwich from M&S?” I never wondered whether the beading was done by hand or a machine – even if it was the latter, when you consider the profits of the producers, middlemen and retailer, surely the machinist can’t have been paid enough for the time it must have taken them to produce.

I am reminded of Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing out the World, where she questions the production methods of embellished fashion:

There are machines that can apply and attach sequins and other decorations in seemingly random patterns that look like handwork, but they require a considerable capital investment by a garment factory.  Ask yourself this: is it likely that the piece you are buying has been sourced from a production facility that has invested in that scale of equipment?  If it’s from a fast-fashion label, particularly from the value end, that is highly unlikely.  Industry estimates suggest that 20 to 60 per cent of garment production (particularly children’s and women’s clothing) is produced at home by informal workers.  They are most likely to be adding beading, embroidery and general embellishment.

People Tree Hairband

People Tree embroidered hairband, hand-made in India, £22

And clearly working from home “in some of the poorest regions on earth” doesn’t bring an improved quality of life (associated with cutting down on that pesky commute) that many of us hanker after in the developed world. Siegle goes on to explain, “Millions of workers, hunched over, stitching and embroidering the contents of the global wardrobe in their own living spaces in slums where a whole family can live in a single room…they are at the bottom of the pile when it comes to rights and remuneration.”

People Tree Folk dress, hand-woven and hand cross-stitched in Bangladesh, £70

Uncovering the production methods of embellished garments and accessories may feel like a guessing-game, and in many cases avoidance might seem like the safest strategy.  However, some brands are transparent and do recognise the necessity to treat workers with respect, offering them a fair wage, training and community development.

Fair Trade pioneers People Tree create work for artisans by designing garments requiring detailed hand-work.  The embellishments on one garment might provide a decorative worker with three day’s paid employment.

This feather-inspired collection by Azuni (below) which launches this month, is hand-made by Mayan Indians using traditional, specialist beading techniques from Central America.

Long Tasselled earrings, £30

Beaded bracelet, £56

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Organic September

15 Sep

It’s that time again: time to get our your muddy carrots and wave them around to celebrate The Soil Association’s Organic September. Why? Well, shopping organic means less chemicals in your system, a happier environment, better animal welfare, protected wildlife and no GMs. And you can’t say fairer than that. Here are EggMag’s picks for enjoying organic in all aspects of your life.

planet organicPLANET ORGANIC
Having just popped in to visit their new store in Devonshire Square, London, Planet Organic have indelibly inked themselves in as our favourite whole foods retailer. This new shoppy, in particular, tickles our fancy with its amazingly clean water bar courtesy of Pure H2O and it’s large selection of organic beers and wines. Try the Sam Smiths Organic Lager (£2.19 per bottle). They also have a large beauty section, selling such delights as John Masters hair care. (The Honey and Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo, £27 for 177ml is a dream for post-holiday hair). And, of course, you can peruse their large selection of food or have a meal from their astonishingly good lunch bar (hot and cold).

Nico B CocoaTHE HARVEST COCOA CLUB POP-UP DINING CLUB
Niko B Organic Chocolates are hosting this desserts only pop-up dining experience. Teaming up with Stoke Newington’s Growing Communities Farmer’s Market, they will offer a four course, totally organic, locally-grown menu including such lip-lickers as Cocoa Cake and Chocolate and Raspberry Mint Truffle Cocktails. Wow. Click here for more.

love lulaLOVE LULA
This organic apothecary stocks all sorts of wonderful natural beauty, skin care and health products. You won’t go far wrong filling your bathroom cabinet up here. We love Evolve’s Mega Omega Moisture Cream (200ml for £12.99) and Dr Hauschka’s Volume Mascara (£19.95 for 10ml)

The Duke of CambridgeTHE DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE
This is the UK’s only certified organic gastropub. Everything you buy here is organic and it’s a treat. Set in the residential backstreets of Islington (London) enjoy the large airy space, an incredible selection of natural drinks and a mouth-watering seasonal menu to boot. Find it here.

Mudd & Water breton top from Fashion ConscienceFASHION CONSCIENCE
Probably the biggest and best retailer specialising in ethical fashion, this online shop has plenty of pieces to choose from that are made with organic fabrics. From shirts to trousers via shoes and back, you name it, they stock it. We are loving this Mudd & Water organic cotton breton-style tee, £44.85.

For a list of UK-wide organic events taking place this month, click here.

 

Could this book be the unravelling of our fashion industry?

16 Aug

To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World by Lucy SiegleI am currently just over halfway through Lucy Siegle’s book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? and already I feel the need to tell everyone about it. Written in easily managed bite-sized-chunks, the book is a thorough and shocking dissection of our fashion industry. Having thought I was pretty much up to speed on its pitfalls To Die For is proving that there’s far more to the business of being ‘on-trend’ than I initially thought. Siegle presents evidence of distressing unethical practices and serious environmental damage that our Western fast-fashion culture has (not always unwittingly) encouraged. Although this book isn’t a particularly light read, it is well written, accessible and gripping at times. It swings wide the glittering doors of one of the West’s biggest commercial machines that most do not usually see behind, and will almost certainly make you think twice about picking up a so-called ‘bargain’ next time you’re on the high-street.

Click here buy To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle

Stuff to do in June

7 Jun LOST ART

As always, we’ve had our ears flapping busily, and have heard news of some smart goings on in the next couple of weeks. We thought we’d share some of them with you:

LOST ART3-30 June: The Lost Collection at KK Outlet

See around 60 accidental works of art on show for the first time ever. The art spans from graphic doodles to full-on Impressionistic landscapes – all of which have been lost or dropped on trains, the tube, in buses and black cabs. If ever there was a reason to use a sketchbook, this is it…

 

8-11 June: TASTE MUSWELL HILL FESTIVAL

Visit the first ever Taste Festival for Muswell Hillians and enjoy all sorts of fun stuff from music and poetry to food and drinks and more. Our old favourites, Planet Organic will be putting on tastings, demos, an artisan bread market (Fri & Sat only) and, to top it of, giving shoppers £3 off, when you spend over £15. Simply email  mh@planetorganic.com to get your special voucher.

Open Farms Sunday12 June: Open Farm Sunday

Spend a day in your wellies – that’s not at a festival! At this annual event visitors can meet our good British farmers to learn how they grow our food and care for the countryside. Many will offer trailer rides, self-guided or hosted walks and, of course, you can have a real root around some lovely farm shops.

 

Two Degrees 201112-18 June: Two Degrees 2011

Rally together and make your voice heard in this festival combining climate change action and art. Try your hand at bingo bike-riding, sit back and enjoy some stories, or simply have a rant.

Sundays throughout June: Creative Summer Sundays at Here Today Here Tomorrow

Join the Dalston-based sustainable fashion foursome for a choice of workshops from making your own zipped purse from vintage materials to learning how to dye and batik fabrics and more. Prices are between £30-40 and the team promise that tea, cake and refreshments will be provided. Crafty fingers at the ready…

Brighton. Right on.

27 Apr

Brighton seafrontYes, yes, I know, EggMag has been stocked in Brighton for about 14 months. But I’ve got to be honest, the team have been so busy we’ve never managed to get down there for more than a couple of hours at a time. So, it was with great delight that I accepted an invitation to stay in the Brighton Artist’s Residence Hotel.

I arrived early (and before the hordes from London) so had some time to mooch with my Brighton-based buddy as my guide. We did the obligatory stroll along the seafront, visited one of the many delis serving properly good food, then checked into the hotel.

You can’t fault the location – it’s one block from the beach and if you have a room on the front, you’ll have a sea view across the square. Each room in this young and quirky little hotel is unique and painted by hand by different artists. Our rooms looked very sweet, although the artwork was a bit rough round the edges (literally), which made it a little messy I thought. But the idea behind the hotel is a good one: they rent the basement studio out to up-and-coming artists who then exhibit their work in the gallery and reception area. The proprietors are also making steps to eco-up the place, so it’s all in all a happy place to stay.

Artist's Residence Hotel

There’s plenty to keep you busy in Brighton: it genuinely is like a mini-London and I can’t think of many towns this size that would have such an interesting arts, shopping and music scene. Even Proud (as in Galleries) have an amazing ballroom here, hosting a programme of brilliantly boho and vintage-inspired events. There are plenty of little independent shops – like the lovely FAIR, which stocks some EggMag fashion favourites such as Bibico, Nancy Dee, People Tree and Bourgeouis Boheme – and a plethora of pubs and bars. We had a pint in The Dorset on North Road, and later headed to the characterful and laaarge Lion and Lobster pub.

Morning came with it a bit of a hangover, but luckily, my ‘breakfast in a bag’ courtesy of the good people at hotel, sorted me out: a super-soft croissant, Innocent OJ and a pot of yog. All good.

So. Summer’s here now (hopefully) so get your cheap advanced tickets from Southwest trains and get down to the seaside.

Could the backlash we’ve all been waiting for against mass-produced fashion finally be happening? Plus: the first Ethique EcoLuxe Day

2 Apr

It occurred to me today that there’s an under-current of ‘bespokeness’ rippling around the UK streets. This thought sprang to me as I left my final appointment at Ethique‘s first and fabulous EcoLuxe Day.

savile row fabricsEarlier this week I had been out shopping with The Boy for a proper suit (for him). We scoured every price range from Savile Row to Zara and what struck me was the choice that has now appeared on the high-street. To add to the personal shopping service many high-street shops have been offering for a while, it seems that some now have alterations services as well – and you can even get your own suit personally made to measure from Reiss.  This may partly down to the Mad Men craze that has swept and swept the nation, and left in its wake a load of people wanting to wear properly fitting, quality clothing, but stick with me though…

Back to Ethique (and eventually to the point). The luxury ethical concierge service is now offering relaxed days filled with consultations, talks and ethical lifestyle inspiration. Choose from personalised fashion tips, make-up advice, interiors ideas and plenty more: good, girlie, high-end fun. The event that I attended began at Tibits (a particular favourite of mine, and an EggMag stockist) where I was given a personal itinerary. This took me to The Organic Pharmacy for an efficient and effective make-over, and then to The National Geographic Store for a chat with the sustainable interior designer Elina Grigoriou who opened my eyes to how The Boy and I can maximise the use of our lovely, but really not-very-thought-out living space. Both appointments were genuinely interesting and I came away feeling that becoming a member would make my life a little easier – and a lot more luxurious.

frazer parfumThere are more and more companies now that tailor-make products for your personal style, be they cheap as chips or bucks-a-plenty. And they are on the up. Have a bespoke perfume made to excite your sense of smell at Frazer Parfum, get salads to suit you at Tossed and order your name in a necklace from Tatty Divine. Choose any object and I reckon you’ll be able to find it, somewhere, personalised for you. And, check out any fashion magazine on the news stand. The inspiration for current trends are broader than they’ve ever been. This summer be a boho babe, be pale and interesting or be nuts, angular and bright. You can be whatever you want to be.

tatty devine name necklaceSo. Here lies my proof of a gradual and building backlash against the mass-produced. People maybe still want That Dress but they want to wear it Their Way. Men want suits, but they want it tweaked to fit their individual style. Some wish to join a concierge service, like Ethique, in order to customise their life.

Maybe it’s because the public are no longer fooled by simple ‘buy this’ advertising. Maybe it’s inspired by the wonderful vintage trend that’s coloured everything from fashion to architecture over our recent years. Maybe it’s down to the recession, which highlighted the importance of buying quality products that last. I’m not saying Primark is dead (although I wish it were) and I’m not saying tailoring is the future (although that would be nice, if a little pricey) I am saying that people, now, like to be unique.

Nice, I say. And about time.

UK Aware 2011

18 Mar

It’s UK Aware next week, and I highly recommend a visit there if you can. In fact, we still have a bunch of free tickets up for grabs on the EggMag website. It promises to be a good show this year, with all sorts of companies present from natural beauty brands to electric scooters. Yours truly is off on a well needed holiday, but there will be a few EggMags around at the event, so make sure you hunt one out if you still haven’t picked up your White Issue. For more details, click here

And read the UK Aware blog here

Be inspired and enjoy!