When we talk Fashion, the vocabulary is sexy.
Everything about shopping, shoes, dressing rooms, models, you name it, the experience is marketed in a very seductive way. The words we use when we see pieces we love all revolve around an element of lust. Our clothes are the closest to our naked bodies, so of course we want to be romanced by them! So when we use words like “Ethical” and “Sustainable”, the sex appeal goes limp. This is vocabulary we hear in Politics! Why bring such heavy issues into our bedroom.. uh I mean closet!
Don’t let the vocabulary confuse you. Sustainable fashion has way more allure than any other. What do we mean when we say that it’s sustainable? SustainableFashionMatterz breaks it down perfectly. It’s a big word for a simple concept. Sustainable Fashion considers humanity and the environment. It’s about clothing created with the world in mind. To probe the metaphor, fast fashion is a one night stand, Sustainable or Slow fashion, is the love of your life; a committed relationship. Fast fashion is trendy and flashy. It’s the in thing of the moment! But it doesn’t take long before the garments fall apart, or the style becomes outdated. Sustainable fashion considers the longevity of the pieces. To be sustainable, would require making sure these clothes don’t turn to waste. Your slow fashion pieces are made carefully by people who treat it with respect. They’re clothes made with love, for you to love. And that is sexy.
What are some Caribbean ethical or sustainable fashion brands?
Bene Caribe : Brilliant colours and creative batik prints are not all we’re known for, but our mission to be “Good for the Caribbean”. With particular attention paid to our footprint on the environment, we aim to be zero waste, utilizing fabric extras inventively to create new pieces. We’re also very considerate of being an ethical brand. Sweatshop free, all pieces are made in the USA or the Caribbean. We work together with other small businesses and independent workers, predominantly women. Learn more about our ethics here.
Green line : Their mission is to re-purpose waste into usable accessories such as their bags! They also make efforts in educating young people on how the can create something new out of items that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Cleverly, they create Totes out of old advertising banners. The tag labels come from discarded t-shirts! They have been a participant and obvious big supporter of New Fire Festival; basically the mecca of sustainable living in Trinidad and Tobago/
Sew Lisa: Bright, colourful and quirky prints on classic, Boho silhouettes make up a lot of the Sew Lisa catalogue. Even sweeter than their aesthetic, is that the brand brings us womenswear aaaaand childrenswear! Committed to sustainability, creator Lisa Gittens thinks of innovative ways to upcycle excess fabric. The breakout star of the show has been her Rori belt; named after her daughter, and made from extras. It his her most requested piece. Bene Caribe partnered with Lisa to make some of these belts out of our scraps as well. If you’re in Trinidad, check out Lisa’s belts at the Shop at Normandie or at 6 Carlos Street.
Nwannia: Another label out of Trinidad, Nwannia bares a darker image. The brand aesthetic has evolved from it’s inception, leaning towards being edgy and almost androgynous, with straight lines and sturdy fabrics. Not just socially and ethically conscious, Nwannia has made strong political statements around their stance on gender based issues, particularly violence. Revisiting and re-branding, they’ve recently brought back pieces from old Collections, as a move to reduce fabric waste. They aim to be zero waste all together. One way of achieving this was by collaborating with One Memoir; a brand known for their own fashion business, built around upcycling fabric and garments from other designers.
This list no doubt will keep growing! We would love to hear from you if you know another great Sustainable Caribbean Fashion brand that we should add here! You may find that many smaller independent designers practice ethical and sustainable fashion processes. It’s because their smaller volume of production makes it easier to manage pollution. Also the size of their companies impacts the type of labour they employ. Sweatshops don’t make sense in their model. Instead it’s often highly skilled workers who can wear many hats in production or management, since the workforce could be less then five people. Look around for brands like these locally, and join all the sexy sustainability loving people out there.