London Fashion Week is back again, bringing hundreds of the world’s brightest designers to showcase their new collections for the first time. Ranging from some of the largest names in the industry to the virtually undiscovered, making a collection that will stand out amongst the rest is on the top of every creative director’s list. Over the years we’ve seen designers use gimmicks to accomplish this, like creating inutile accessories with the aim of becoming the next internet meme or designing ostentatious neon bright pieces that are more on the ridiculous side of fashionable. But are they sustainable?
For every year comes a new trend, and this year’s trend was sustainability. We were delighted to see that collections were deriving from more sustainable materials or that fashion houses were investing in eco friendly innovative manufacturing. There was no doubt that sustainability was at the tip of everyone’s tongue this season. One of the brands that stood out to us was collaborative design team ToBeFrank x Molyneaux.
Having one of the more memorable runway shows of LFW, ToBeFrank X Molyneaux started the show off strong with a bold sound bite from Jo Wood, going into the impacts of fast fashion on the planet. Touching on the idea that all parties should be more eco-conscious. That despite luxury brands producing limited quantities, it does not exempt them from responsibility for contributing to the global problem. After that clip played there was a roar of applause from around the room and everyone was eager to see the new collection.
Once the show had commenced we were delighted by their fantastically designed monochromatic jumpsuits, longnecks and dresses. We were blown away by the use of their lace and organza which had us curious about how a sustainable brand could pull off such incredible designs without using traditional materials. We were lucky enough to sit down with the co-founder and creative director Frankie Phillips to answer all of our questions and talk about the new collection and their efforts to be the most sustainable luxury fashion brand in the world.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A SUSTAINABLE FASHION BRAND TODAY?
One of the big parts about being sustainable is accepting the fact that it’s all of our responsibility to do something about, fast fashion are getting a lot of blame at the moment, and they do need to figure out a better way to impact the environment and people saying a t-shirt is recycled that’s enough to say it’s sustainable.
One of the big things when it comes to sustainability is for us we’ve started as a sustainable brand. So everything we’ve sourced has been sustainable. All of our factories, we’ve sourced them because of their beliefs, we don’t compromise on any of that. If a factory doesn’t have at least minimum wage, they won’t show us their payrolls so that we know they pay more than minimum wage i.e. a living wage, we won’t work with them simply because that just doesn’t fit with our ethos as a brand.
WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THAT JO WOOD SOUNDBITE FROM THE BEGINNING OF YOUR SHOW?
Fashion Weeks in general; even though they don’t make up the masses, and they don’t have the mass amount of waste, they are seen as the benchmark and inspiration.
That was our opportunity to show that if luxury fashion does the best they can, then everyone will follow as well. All of us in this industry who follow fashion who have their impact, whether its a celebrity, whether its press, or buyers, they are the ones who can make huge change.
DO YOU FIND THAT BEING A SUSTAINABLE BRAND HINDERS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
No. I thought that at first when linked up with Amy to do this range and she said “oh we can’t do that…” But actually when you get into it, it pushes you creatively much more, because the normal things that you can use as a safety net, fabric, you can’t do that anymore. So you really have to think so much differently, and much more in depth about what you’re gonna design and what you’re gonna use. It actually pushes you even more to be creative. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the luxury range. I wanted to show that you can have a beautiful luxury range and nothing is being compromised.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED CREATING A LUXURY COLLECTION THIS SEASON?
It was different doing a luxury range design wise, because style wise I’m much more of a casual person. Linking up with Amy was incredible because we tried to mix our ranges together so we got more of a luxury/anarchy thing going on. So the challenge I think was trying to bring everything together at the supply chain base. We got incredible mills and incredible factories and they were really excited to do this project with us, because you won’t believe how many mills and manufacturers try to push retailers to be sustainable and the answer is always no. So when we told them we were doing this range they all kinda got together and helped us.
A lot of the time mills want to try to develop fabrics as well. A lot of the fabric we have here is new development processes from mills that we’ve worked with, that wanted that they wanted to try. We’ve got organza from, wasted organza, that we’ve remade into new material.
WHERE DID YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE MONOCHROMATIC THEME IN YOUR RANGE?
Amy and I were working together on how we could combine our looks. She’s quite luxury and I am more on the anarchic side of fashion. So we kind of agreed that the 60’s would be kind of great, because that’s also a time that comes to freedom of speech. People were more creative in what they believed in, the images of protests and people fighting for what they believed in. So when it came to having it black and white that came quite naturally because of the fabrics we developed, like the chrome free and vegetable dyed leathers and also some of the satins and seed fabric that we got came in this beautiful black and white. So it just made sense.
HOW DO YOU PLAN ON STAYING SUSTAINABLE GOING FORWARD?
When it comes to our plans for 2020… We just teamed up with Frank Water, a water charity they provide communities around the world with tools to help clean their water. Every bit of water we don’t use during our washing process, we donate to them. A liter for a liter. That’s something that we started this year and that will be with our ToBeFrank range and our Amy Molyneaux range.
One of the big things we want to implement this year is training for women’s empowerment projects. We have a charity called the ToBeFrank Foundation, and we want to implement training for women so that they will be on an equal pay rate. It’s just closing that gap, we know it’s going to be a long process of course, but that’ll mean implementing training in the factories, which will be awesome.
VIDEO INTERVIEW COMING SOON