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Orsola de Castro on Estethica, and From Somewhere’s New Launch

Orsola De Castro

There is perhaps no one as influential in the global sustainable fashion movement than Orsola de Castro, creative director at From Somewhere and Reclaim to Wear, and the co founder and co curator of Estethica, a showcase promoting sustainable fashion at The Exhibition at London Fashion Week.

Founded by the British Fashion Council, the show is promoting sustainable fashion at the newly renovated West Wing of Somerset House 14 designers’ AW13 collections, from February 15-19th, 2013.

I was able to catch up with Castro this past week in regards to her plans for From Somewhere’s expansion this year, what we can expect from Estethica in 2013 and who she projects will be the sustainable brands and trends to watch in the coming year.

FGS: What are the designers you are particularly excited about this year?

OC: New brands this year include Liora Lassalle, winner of the Estethica / Veolia Re-Source competition with Central Saint Martins  who will launch her first collection at the Estethica.

This collaboration launched in July 2012 between Estethica and Veolia Environmental Services, the UK’s leading recycling and waste management company, aims to identify and nurture a CSM student to develop creative and sustainable solutions in fashion.

Liora, a CSM BA 2012 graduate, has produced an upcycled capsule collection, made with reclaimed luxury fabrics (such as jerseys and vintage lace) and Veolia’s internal waste (high-vis binmen’s jackets and uniforms), is supported by a mentoring programme sponsored by Veolia. Liora received Reclaim to Wear mentoring by Orsola de Castro, who, together with Anna Orsini from the BFC, also coordinated the full mentoring programme which focused on sourcing, producing, developing and promoting her collection. Liora has also secured her first online stockist at, designing for them a collection of jeans created from denim donated by leading Italian denim brand, Pier.

Another new designer we have who is absolutely brilliant is a Belgian designer called Katrien Van Hecke, with a wonderful collection of delicate prints and directional silhouettes. Katrien was recently part of the High Fashion Low Countries Exhibition, curated by Eve Marie Kuijstermans (recently exhibited in Amsterdam and Paris).

Third, back for a second season is milliner Mich Dulce, who’s celebrity adored collections are entirely produced from sustainable innovative materials in the Philippines, supporting local artisans and creating new skills and much needed jobs in the local community.

FGS: What are some special events we should be looking out for?

OC: Heading the welcome returns is Veja, who join us as this season’s special guest: Veja work with cooperatives of small producers across Brazil, using organic cotton and wild rubber to create  trainers and accessories that respect both the environment and human rights. Veja will be showcasing a special installation inside Estethica,  consolidating a relationship which started in 2007.

We are also proud to include in our lineup the brilliant accessory brand Bottletop, at Estethica for the first time. Bottletop’s amazing bags, design led and consciously minded, are produced empowering women in the developing world. They also support the wider community with the Bottletop Foundation which supports young people through educational projects.

FGS: What returning designers we should be watching closely?

OC: Back for a second season is milliner Mich Dulce, who’s celebrity adored collections are entirely produced from sustainable innovative materials in the Philippines, supporting local artisans and creating new skills and much needed jobs in the local community.

We also welcome back seminal upcyclist brand Goodone and UK-made label Beautiful Soul, both showcasing signature collections for AW 13-14.

And of course, Estethica afficionada Ada Zanditon will be there, fresh from her recent successful catwalk show in Berlin.

Another Estethica regular, Henrietta Ludgate, is showcasing her capsule collection of UK made womenswear.

Also present are veteran Estethica brands North Circular, presenting their beautiful accessories and ltd edition womenswear range, all hand-knitted in the UK from locally sourced wool, and multi award winning brand Pachacuti, whose fairtrade Panama Hats keep going from strength to strength.

FGS: How are ethical fashion and London fashion week influencing one another this year?

OC: More than influencing one another, it’s a question of informing one another. London fashion week is at the center of mainstream fashion and is very much created us the fashion week platform, the fact that it hosts an event like Estethica means that a far as the British Fashion Council, sustainability is very much at the heart of what they are trying to do. Of course we are hoping to influence the mainstream as well through various projects that we have.

FGS: What do you see on the horizon as far as sourcing, materials and ethical and sustainable practices?

OC: We’re seeing new practices all the time, I think that sustainability is very much at the top of the agenda, both when it comes to the bigger picture and the younger designers and colleges…my instinct would be that upcycling, being very creative and very immediate, the younger generation is focusing on wild, the bigger companies from the mainstream to the high street are forusing more on sustainable fabrice and organic cotton but it seems to me that we’re looking at things like the coalition for sustainable apparel and there are plenty of moves toward making sustainability a priority in the larger picture.

FGS: What trends are standing out this year?

OC: I generally see a stronger design element to all sustainable design but its difficult to pigeonhole. Within sustainability there are so many different disciplines you know organic, upcycling, fair trade, so its difficult to say there’s a single trend influencing everyone else, I think its more that people are investing more in their design.

FGS: Is there one particular discipline you taking off in 2013?

OC: It seems to be upcycling for the younger generation – it’s creative and it’s innovative, and its organic and handmade fabrics for the larger companies that can afford those minimums.

FGS: Is there a direction you see accessories heading in?

OC: It’s difficult to pigeonhole…you have to understand the nature and identity of each designer, and then we can start discussing trends. Liora Lassalle is a designer I’m particularly excited about.

FGS: Are there new developments we can expect this year from From Somewhere?

OC: Yes. You certainly can. We’re re-launching in May. I’m not saying much now…but you can certainly expect to see something you haven’t seen before.

Photo via Orsola De Castro, credit: Will Whipple.

Written by Shanley Knox

Founder/owner of the Nakate Project, an initiative bringing third world female artisans to high fashion. I am passionate about all things that are truly sustainable, and truly making a positive difference in the world around us.

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