Giovanna wearing A Peace Treaty Tala Scarf, and Cuero&Mor Natural Leather Clutch An interview with the Founder, Giovanna Eastwood 1. Why Ethical Collection London? I was inspired to start Ethical Collection by my time living in the slums of Rio De Janeiro. My mother and I founded a charity ephemeral Brazil to teach young women to make and sell...
Giovanna wearing A Peace Treaty Tala Scarf, and Cuero&Mor Natural Leather Clutch
An interview with the Founder, Giovanna Eastwood
1. Why Ethical Collection London?
I was inspired to start Ethical Collection by my time living in the slums of Rio De Janeiro. My mother and I founded a charity ephemeral Brazil to teach young women to make and sell bags from recycled materials. I saw first hand the direct effect that this had on the woman, their families, their communities, the work enabled the women to pay for their children to go to school, the pride they had in their work, and the benefit to the environment - and of course the bags were incredibly beautiful! Ever since then, I have been looking for the perfect opportunity to promote artisans working ethically around the world. And most importantly, to give consumers access to the most beautiful products and to give them a choice - a choice between fashion with a conscience and our usual fast fashion habits without.
My mother Cristina Eastwood founder of Ephemeral Brazil
2. How do you select the labels?
I spend a long time looking at labels to stock on Ethical Collection. After selecting the labels, I spend time speaking with each designer to best understand and learn about their story - so that I can communicate this to customers and provide the most enriching shopping experience possible. It is so important to me that my customers understand the personal story behind the objects we bring into our lives and how much good they are doing with their thoughtful purchases.
3. Why is it important that the luxury industry focuses on the welfare of developing countries?
I am not puritanical about high street fashion or luxury brands, but I can see from the responses that I receive from my customers that they are craving something different - something that has a story, an opportunity to give back where possible and an opportunity to support the artisans that continue to challenge themselves to do things differently. It saddens me to think that, without opportunities and support, beautiful artisans, creative communities and care for the environment may be drowned out by what is expedient.
The disastrous Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 which killed 1129 people is an terrifying example of how dangerous fast-fashion is, with a constant demand for new products peoples lives and welfare are put at risk. Within these communities lies such a diverse array of highly skilled artisans and it is so important that we celebrate them and create opportunities for them to showcase their work, support their communities and keep these traditional skills alive.
4. How positive is the future looking for the welfare of developing countries when it comes to luxury fashion?
The future is so bright! Every day I see amazing fashion products from the developing world, made by the most inspiring artisans. I am so lucky to be able to see this, and through Ethical Collection I am trying to bring as many forward to mainstream markets as I can. Whether it is hand made beaded sandals lovingly made by Massai women in Kenya, to IX Style's hand woven sandals from Guatemala where every sandal sold contributes money to clean water filtration, luxury fashion can do so much for the developing world and this is a primary goal of Ethical Collection. I think the consumer is opening their eyes to who are making their clothes and starting to ask more questions. fashionrevolution.com are a big propeller to this too.
5. Who or What is your fashion inspiration?
My fashion inspiration is my Brazilian mother. She has always been a free and creative spirit, not afraid to make statements and push barriers in all areas of her life including fashion. I think fashion should be fun and not taken too seriously. I would say my signature style is wearing something in my hair. I love ribbons, bows headbands, anything that makes a colourful statement... It brings any outfit alive.
"Beijos" kisses from mama and I
6. Ethical Collection London is based in Notting Hill, where are the best places to visit?
As well as loving my ethical brands, I am a big supporter of all things second hand, from vintage clothing to charity shops. My favourite charity shops in the Notting Hill area are:
· Fara on Elgin crescent for great cashmere,
· Oxfam on Westbourne Grove for fantastic designers bargains, from Temperley London to Joseph.
· Retro Woman at Notting Hill Gate is a fantastic place for bargain hunters.
I am also a lover of great coffee and Notting Hill now has some amazing coffee shops! My favourite has to Pedlars on Talbot road. I call them my home away from home, I have spent many hours working away on my laptop while drinking copious amount of delicious all press coffee.
Arabica beans used in all press involves an on-going search, so a lot of time is spent looking for small farms, estates and co-ops that are sustainably managed with high standards of agricultural practice and specialise in high grade beans. Direct relationships with these growers so our supply arrangements are made with people managing the farms.
The staff are also just lovely!
The Londoner (Rosie) has a great blog post on Pedlars
6. Tips to make you wardrobe more sustainable?
My top tips would be...
1. Buy less and be willing to pay more for something that will last.
2. If you are willing to rummage you can find some amazing designer and vintage pieces in Charity and Vintage shops.
3. If you find something you love but it doesn’t fit, get it altered.
4. Love and look after what you already have.
7. Advice for customers before buying a cheap piece of clothing?
I would say inform yourselves and have awareness. Knowledge is power! Be mindful of who you think made your clothes before purchasing an item, especially if the piece of clothing is remarkably cheap!
8. Tell us a story from one of your artisans, which has touched you?
The story that has touched me the most has to be Dan’s letter to Fine Cell, http://ethicalcollection.com/pages/our-designers-dev/ explaining how his embroidery course has helped him to cope and given him the skills he can use to support himself once he has left prison. This is just one example of some of the amazing work Fine Cell has done to help prisons across the UK.
"I would like to say a very special thank you for putting me forward for the gold award. I had never used a needle and thread before I came into prison and when I told my family what I was doing they thought I was joking and when I have sent them some of my own work they think I have bought them. So I sent my award out to my daughter along with the cards for the grandchildren. I enjoy doing the tapestry so much that I've done courses in the education, level one and level 2 in creative craft, and I have passed both, these were in art and calligraphy and design. I have also done a level 3 in technical drawing. These are also a help to me when I'm sitting in my room drawing and thinking about how I'm going to tackle problems like when I had to do the large tapestry I did a few weeks ago, I adapted two of the frames I have into one large one and it worked out okay by the end result."