South Africa has a pool of designers focusing on eco-friendly products and sustainable production, while helping develop local skills.
by Tamsyn Bouwer
From the use of organic, environmentally-friendly recycled materials, hand-made items, to innovative methods where chemical usage, industrial by-products and waste is reduced, these designers are making an impact, both on the environment and in the social arena, while producing exclusive, beautiful, natural ranges. SA’s got it all. These are just 5 of our faves to watch this year.
1. The Joinery
South African sisters Kim and Natalie Ellis’ organic and ethically inspired brand was founded in 2012. The name is based on the founding principles of collaboration with local artisans and designers. The Joinery aims to provide an alternative to the usual way of producing clothing and accessories. The designs aim to produce as much as possible by hand to limit the company’s carbon footprint, using hemp fabrics and organic cottons where possible. In addition, the majority of the garments are produced by talented, female, fair trade sewing co-operatives in local townships in and around Cape Town. And, the label strives to use suppliers that employ minimal environmental impact production methods.
You just have to love these gorgeous yoga pants! Spiritgirl was created by two active, environmentally conscious, Cape Town-based women who share a combined passion for design, spiritual awareness, nature and yoga. Their custom-designed yoga pants (also suitable for active swimmers and surfers) made from recycled plastic bottles (PET) and woven with spandex, are breathable, comfortable, and designed to wick moisture away from the body, keeping the wearer cool and dry. The leggings are vibrant and colourful (inspired by the travels of the two designers), and the embedded 50% UV protection material ensures that the bold designs don’t fade easily.
Probably the biggest name on this list, designer Craig Jacob’s Fundudzi label is an ethical, eco-friendly range of clothing made with organic fabrics that is designed to reflect the wearer’s environmental and social stance – clothing with a conscience. Fundudzi uses ecologically sensitive and locally sourced cashmere/lamb’s wool material from African rural communities and organic cotton sourced from Lesotho. It supports sustainability through various initiatives – collaborating with local crafters and artisans, up-cycling projects and philanthropy. The label highlights emerging creative designers (many of whom now have their own sustainable businesses) and works closely with communities in South Africa, Mozambique and Kenya to ensure that all garments are proudly made in Africa.
4. Digital Nature
This range is dedicated to showcasing the potential of 3D printing in fashion. Kiara Gounder, a Durban-based fashion designer, first began exploring 3D printing while studying fashion design at the Durban University of Technology. Her Digital Nature fashion range prints and develops elements and accessories that reflect the symmetry in nature. Kiara draws her inspiration for the silhouette, design and detailed patterning from microscopic images of fossils, plant cells and insect cells. The 3D printed elements are offset against monochromatic, smooth, clean line structured garments. According to Kiara, the 3D method of printing is a form of additive manufacturing, where the technology ensures that only the required amount of raw materials are used in the manufacture, effectively reducing product wastage.
5. Clari Design
Created by Chantel Clarys, CLARI Design boasts a range of hand-made clothing and accessories of exceptional quality and excellent value. The mother and daughter team, who share a mutual love for creating beautiful and timeless things that will bring joy to others, lovingly make each item. The vibrant and colourful range includes crocheted and fabric fashion accessories, designer t-shirts and hand painted wooden jewellery.
It’s no secret that we love Cape Town brand Real + Simple’s cool, raw denims for men. And we love that you can buy their product online at Spree since last year. We just wish they’d come up with a women’s line.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know your favourite eco-friendly fashion brands in the comments below.