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Another ethical designer showcasing for the first time, is Jan Townsend of Jacob James. From the unlikely beginnings of discarded fabrics, plastic bottles and weeds, Jacob James invests love and creates beautifully sustainable hats.

 

The inspiration for Jacob James A/W 2011 comes from transformation – taking the ugly, unsightly and unloved and fashioning it into beautifully tailored hats. The pallet of soft greys with an accent of beige/blue is a reference to dusk, a time when all things are transfigured by the change from day to night.

When I briefly caught up with Jan at LFW, here’s what she had to say:

Q. Tell me a little about yourself and your design background?

I actually have an engineering background, so that’s how I learnt to draw, and I then transferred the skills. The designs for the hats basically come from the fabrics, as that is what we’re all about – the stinging nettle fabrics, and the recycled bottle fabrics. There are certain designs of hats that you can go for with those fabrics, so you have to start with the fabrics, see what they’re capable of, and then take it from there.

Q. What was the inspiration behind doing ethical and sustainable fashion?

We wanted to create hats that you could wear when it’s cold, so a useful product, but with these interesting fabrics. Originally we started making bags out left over leather that we had access to, but we found the market was already quite full, and then someone asked us if we could make hats, so we went away and drafted some patterns, took them to her and she was our first hat customer. So we’ve just stuck with the hats since then.

Q. Have you encountered any challenges when trying to adhere to this ethical philosophy?

Actually no we haven’t.

Q. What do you think the future is for sustainable fashion?

I think it will go into the mainstream. I think people will just used to seeing it in the shops, and you won’t have to go to specific ethical outlets to get it.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring ethical fashion designers?

I don’t know…I wish somebody would give me some! I suppose just to be thick-skinned and keep going.

Q. If you had to choose one famous person to be your muse, who would it be?

Bertie Wooster!

Stockists include: Corina Corina, Warwick; Black Swan, Somerset; walford Mill, Dorest..

For more information on Jacob James and to view the collections, visit the online shop: www.jacob-james.co.uk.

Goodone is an independent fashion label that reflects contemporary London through conscious design. Designers Nin Castle and Clare Farrell use local community production in the UK and recycled and up-cycled materials to create high-end fashion and forward-collections.

The collection focuses on the previous theme of Aran knit, celebrating the wealth of knits already available as well as producing hand knitted accessories and trims. Panelled dresses and jumpers still feature alongside oversized pieces, powdered silk shirts and blanket coats mixed with draped scarves, and suede details.

During London Fashion Week, I was able to catch up with one half of Goodone.

Q. Nin, tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from? What’s your design background?

My name is Nin Castle and I run a company called Goodone, which specialises in upcycling. I studied fashion at Brighton University and I set up the business when I finished there. It has taken quite a while to try and develop the idea and learn how to use the upcycle fabrics, but I think we’re really getting somewhere now. This autumn/winter collection is our fifth season at fashion week, and I think it is our best collection yet. I think that we’re really showing that through a design led approach to sustainable fibres you really can get a cool, slick product.

Q. How would you describe the Goodone woman?

Assertive yet feminine, conscious yet positive.

Q. What has been your inspiration for autumn/winter 2011?

Cable knits, scarf drapes and powdered silk shirts

Q. What was the inspiration behind Goodone, and what made you move into ethical and sustainable fashion?

Same as everyone else’s really, just a bit pissed off with the way the industry works at the moment. I really do try and promote us as design first though, and then ethics second. I’m really aware that I want to be known for design, but then the ethical side as being an added bonus.

Q. How do you ensure that you work in a sustainable and eco-friendly way?

We mix reclaim fabrics, whether that’s used garments, and then we mix that with pre-consumer waste and then sometimes we mix some new British fabrics in as well. Basically we work out what we want to make and then think what’s the
most sustainable way and how can we use the most amount of reclaim fabrics within the design.

Q. What do you think the future holds for ethical fashion?

I think it is growing so much, so quickly, and I think more and more projects are happening which is making people become aware of it. I think that with all the cotton prices going quite mental and fabrics becoming more expensive, the whole of the fashion industry, maybe not right away, but in perhaps 5 years time, will have to adopt some changes.

Q. What advice do you have for aspiring ethical fashion designers?

The best thing to do is to get an internship with a designer that you really like, and then make yourself dispensable so they can’t do without you.

Q. How would you define your personal style?

Goodone!

Stockists for Goodone in London include: Topshop, London; Beyond the Valley, London; Diguardo, London; Katarina Phillips, London; 69b, London.

Alternatively, visit the Goodone website at www.goodone.co.uk to view the collections, and for more information. Goodone is also featured on www.yoox.com, the first online retail space for Esthetica.

The Ritz-Carlton is opulence; a powerful American brand that shouts exclusive, expensive and extraverted.

So when we were invited to travel to stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt in County Wiklow there was a fragment of curiosity as to the eco credentials the hotel was to boast. Could one of the world’s leading hotel chains really be going green? With vintage pearls at the ready, Chris and I were off to Ireland.

Wiklow is renowned as the ‘garden of Ireland’ and on approach to the Palladian hotel the views over the stunning Sugar Loaf Mountain were supporting of this claim. Once inside our Georgian decor suite (complete with our own kitchen – perfect for cooking fresh organic food from the local shop), the floor-to-ceiling windows exposed us to the views once more.

As a silver award winner at the Green Hospitality Awards, this hotel has some hidden and some not so hidden green gems. The signature Gordon Ramsay restaurant sits within the hotel and is the only one in Ireland. Serving locally sourced produce fresh from neighbouring farms, including sea food from the Irish Sea, the restaurant is an experience in itself. Try one of the tasting menus (either 4 or 7 courses) to gain a real flavour of the food on offer; from scallops served with duck and melon to foie gras with cherry and chocolate and Ramsay’s signature lobster ravioli, you’ll be in awe at every course. If you fancy a special treat, book yourself in to the Chef’s table where you can admire your art-like food being created before you.

The ESPA spa is not to be missed when visiting the hotel. Adding to their eco credentials, the range of products have one of the highest levels of natural ingredients in the market. Body and Face Treatment Oils are 100% natural and Super Active skincare solutions are all over 90% natural. Chris booked in for a two hour ‘garden of inspiration body ritual’ and I opted for the ‘energy balancing ritual’ (much needed after a heavy night of wine and champagne!) Once booked into the spa you can also take advantage of thermal suites that include a star studded Crystal steam room and a 20m chlorine free Swarovski crystal lit pool (which you will not want to leave).

Should you want to explore Ireland then there is not a shortage of things to do. The hotel has partnered with a range of innovative local businesses such as The Old Rectory for the creative types who want to get involved in screen printing or other arts. We took a trip out to meet the owner Joanna who kindly prepared some coffee, homemade snacks and elderflower juice before showing us around the studio and the grounds. Set in a traditional Irish country house, the studio provides a tranquil place to explore your inner artist. Joanna is definitely living the good life, growing her own veg, keeping chickens for eggs and we’d unfortunately just missed the pigs who had been reared for some fantastic home grown, organic meat (although the sausages were a little on the overpowering side).

Next stop was to the beautiful Old Milking Parlour, a restored 17th Century Quaker meeting house which has been brought to life by owner and architect Delphine who is a fountain of eco knowledge and deeply passionate about conserving Irish heritage and creating eco-friendly, liveable space. The property has been designed to a high environmental standard; installing solar panels, a wood burning stove and geothermal under floor heating whilst maintaining the original structure of wooden beams, white washed walls and rather small doors (be prepared to duck down!) You can split your stay between the cottage and The Ritz-Carlton to experience more of Ireland – there’s even some discounts attached if you contact the hotel direct.

Back at the hotel itself we were surprised to find that the hotel was built with sustainability in mind and heating is produced by a wood chip burner. Although elegance and luxury are always going to be number one at this five star paradise, it’s refreshing to see so many of the guests taking advantage of the complementary bike hire. Whilst in a place of natural beauty pack up a delicious picnic, strap it to the back of your bike and take off to the exclusive river route that only guests can access.

The Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt has a special something about it; the service is the best you will find, you’re situated in the garden of Ireland, and you can sleep well knowing that this leading brand is making sustainable choices and putting a green foot forward.

Booking: Online or call +353 (1) 274 8888

Travel: the hotel can be reached by bus or train from Dublin – bus to Enniskerry, train to Bray. Transfers can be arranged by the hotel.

Image gallery: For more photos check out my blog.

There’s been a mass of people talking about ‘the’ places to holiday in the UK. I’m sure we all know someone who’s chosen Cornwall instead of Connecticut or Scotland instead of the Seychelles. Well the same goes for Honeymoons. An increasing amount of people are wising up to the adventures that can be had closer to home – saving a small fortune in the meantime.

Responsible travel is hot off the marks on pointing out some top hot spots for those soon to be newlyweds who are looking for something special while still wanting to save some cash this year.

Here is our top 3 staycation-moon spots;

Organic farm stay in Somerset

Eco close to home
Eco close to home

This 15th centaury farmhouse offers a gorgeous B&B stay with a great choice of activities to spend those newlywed days together. You can take a course in bread making, falconry, organic gardening or art. If a B&B doesn’t take your fancy you can also take a look at their self catering or camping options.

Luxury B&B in Devon:

Responsible and luxury
Responsible and luxury

If you want to splash out (and why not, you’ve saved heaps on that flight remember?!) then go for a suite. You’ll find a king size 4 poster water bed, a private conservatory and your own private garden with koi pond (sounds swish!). There’s even a hot tub in the woods to use…

And for something totally different, a yurt in the Isle of Wight:

Eco eccentric
Eco eccentric

If you’re looking to save cash, reduce your impact on the environment and experience something totally different then this is the honeymoon for you. You’ll be staying in a Mongolian yurt tent or traditional ball tent, eating locally produced food and experiencing a range of activities from waterskiing to tai-chi, depending upon how your mood takes you.

Images thanks to: Millbrook Cottages. Huntstile Organic Farm and The Really Green Holiday Company.