Birdsong

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It’s a new year and so I guess I should acknowledge the fact that this is the first post of 2015. Happy New Year and all that!

Now that’s out the way let me introduce you (if you’re not already acquainted) to Birdsong. Last autumn a friend told me about it and I’ve been meaning to do a little write up for a while. Birdsong is a great online shop which sells “handmade products by inspirational women’s charities in London”. There are currently three women’s enterprises that Birdsong works with, creating the clothing and accessories for sale on their website.

Sweet Cavanagh is responsible for the beautiful, ethical jewellery on the marketplace. The jewellery is made by women recovering from addictions and eating disorders and all profits from this social enterprise are invested back into the charity Free Me, which the jewellery brand Sweet Cavanagh is a part of. So if you’re looking for some new accessories to jazz up an outfit then have a look at their unique creations here.

The super cosy scarves on Birdsong are made by a group of ladies who meet weekly to knit and natter over a cup of tea (which is pretty damn cute). The knitters meet at The Bradbury, a part of Staywell, which is a day centre that provides the over 50s with a whole host of activities and services from line-dancing to Spanish classes. All profits from these scarves are donated to The Bradbury. So you can wrap up warm AND help the elderly.

The third organisation Birdsong currently works with is Heba. Having been around for 25 years this is a well-established project that provides women from a wide variety of different backgrounds with great opportunities to meet others and gain new skills in a safe, welcoming environment. They also create simply beautiful, chic garments.

(All images from the Birdsong website)

 

Discovering platforms in the fashion industry like Birdsong, and the inspirational projects they work alongside, is encouraging. It’s always nice to be reminded that there are so many other options out there; that not having a clue who made your clothes, and the doubtful ethics behind them, is not the only choice. I will be writing more about such shops and projects in future posts and if you have any good ones to share then please do get in touch!

Sustainable Sequins

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Sequins are great. The way they are made, however, is not so great. Before reading a super interesting article on Sleek Magazine about designer Rahel Guiragossian’s pioneering work with sequins I hadn’t really given much thought to the fabrication of these shiny embellishments. After doing a bit more research, it turns out that vintage sequins from the 30s or so were often made from gelatin, which replaced the frequent use of thin, but still rather weighty, metal disks before then. As expected, today’s sequins are made from plastic materials and a questionable concoction of chemicals. It was actually Guiragossian’s mother’s allergy to sequins that initially provoked her to mistrust the material.

With the ever increasing demand for fast fashion it isn’t at all surprising that the detrimental environmental impact is overlooked. It predominantly is in the fashion industry. Thankfully there are designers, like Rahel Guiragossian, who are changing that. In creating a biodegradable alternative that eliminates the use of dubious chemicals, sequins become totally environmentally, and people, friendly from the initial production stage until the garment is discarded (if necessary). This provides a complete contrast to the hundreds of years that sequins take to decompose in their current form.

As a major fan of sequins, Guiragossian’s development of sustainable sequins is something I will definitely be following closely and hope to see spreading further into the fashion industry! I highly recommend reading the original article Sleek Magazine, where you can also see pictures of Guiragossian’s beautiful, sequin-studded creations: http://www.sleek-mag.com/fashion-2/2014/11/not-so-superfluous-sequins-go-sustainable/