INTERVIEW: LFW Eco Fashion with Ada Zanditon
Greenstream TV’s Safeera Sarjoo talks to Ada Zanditon at London Fashion Fashion Week, a well-known face in the “eco” designers community. Here she talks how nature inspires her collections.
GSTV: Can you talk us through your collection?
AZ: The collection for Ada Zanditon autumn/winter 12 is called Simia Mineralis which means ‘Ape of the mineral’. It’s an analogy for the human race, our kind of bloodthirsty desire for technology, the way we mine the metals we use in technology, and how that has a really negative impact on the habitat of many species. But I’m particularly looking at the situation of mountain gorillas in the Congo and Rwanda.
There are many big issues around that and I kind of want to be the voice for the things that don’t have a voice of their own, especially for the mountain gorillas. I also think they are interesting because their DNA is 95 to 99 percent similar to ours, so they are like our cousins and I feel like we need to have more recognition of the fact that we’re related to nature, and nature is where we came from and we need to have more respect for it.
So that was my inspiration behind the collection and what I wanted to bring to people, but in a practical sense that’s been through choosing a really diverse, abundant range of sustainable textiles so the people we were working with use fair trade organic cotton, and also fair trade velvet. We’ve been working with silk and upcycled Chanel tweed and eel skin, which is a new one for us. It’s a by-product from the food industry. It’s a really strong skin and has the most incredible finish and I think it’s a really high end, beautiful fabric.
In terms of the shape and silhouette, and the collection, we’ve got a lot of really strong tailored jackets with geometric shoulders and there is also a much more romantic feel to the collection. We have dresses with ruffles as well as really structured evening wear. In separates this season, we have our first ever pair of jeans which is kind of cool. I always wear skinny black jeans so I thought there needs to be an eco skinny black version. We’ve used the velvet in the detailing as well as leather panelling in the leg.
GSTV: Do you think more designers are trying to adapt to eco-fashion?
AZ: I think there is a huge amount of interest in it and I was in Kiev just last year doing a fashion show and someone from St Martin’s was also there speaking about fashion and they were asked the question: “What are you most asked about by your students?” She actually said it was eco-fashion, and that all of her students were constantly asking about that and how it could be more part of the course. So I think that a lot of the new generation of designers coming up have an increasing interest in it. Not in a way that they’re pursuing a particular aesthetic, they’re pursuing their own aesthetic designing whatever they want to design. But the sustainable factor is coming into people’s work in the material sense, and the innovative ways they manufacture them.
GSTV: You say your collection is inspired by the mountain gorilla. Has that had any effect on causes related to them?
AZ: That’s something that takes a while to do so with my last collection we were particularly looking at seahorses and at the moment, I think it’s in April, I’ll be swimming for seahorses along with some other people.
GSTV: So do you base your collections around different animals?
AZ: Yes. My inspiration comes very much from conservation, which I’ve always been passionate about as well as fashion. For me, the key is to try and make high end luxury fashion, which gives a voice to different issues and conservation work. My first collection was looking at bees and colony collapse, my second collection was about bats because one kind of pollinator led me to another, and then I was really interested in the ocean. So I’ve done collections where I’ve looked more into the ocean and at the issue around seahorses, ocean acidification and coral reefs, and then I’ve kind of gone back on to land. So that’s where my inspiration comes from.
GSTV: It’s definitely different given that some designers focus on particular eras for their collections.
AZ: I’m really “science-y” and I love drawing inspiration for fashion from a wide source – I look at silhouettes from different eras but I take my main source of inspiration from evolution and biometry, and seeing how different species have evolved. I think that the future should be about being one global community and understanding how the diversity of life on earth has made us successful.
GSTV: How has the reaction been to the collection?
AZ: It was amazing. Colin McDowell came to the presentation on Friday, which was wonderful, and he very kindly said that he thought it was very unique and effective. He really liked the film and the collection, and he could tell that every single part was “thought through, very much stemming from the concept, and it has the right type of velocity” – which was what we were trying to do. We had a great response from press and buyers so it’s been really exciting and a lot of fun.
GSTV: Where do you see eco-fashion going in the next five years?
AZ: What I would really love to see is the boundary between fashion and eco-fashion to start melt away and for people to think that sourcing sustainably and manufacturing responsibly is just part of the process. Maybe eventually we’ll stop using this term, because that is what fashion should be about – it should be done responsibly. I don’t know if that could happen in five years. It’s a big amount of change. I think in higher fashion it can happen quicker because it has smaller amounts of production. I think when it’s smaller it’s not just easier to manage but I think rather than demonize people we need to help them and be positive and encouraging. A lot of people want to change things but we have got to a point where we are working with complex systems. If everyone has a really positive attitude and everyone is thinking about more transparency and be more communal in their way of thinking then we’d have a real chance of changing things.