An Interview with Ethical Designer Ada Zanditon

One of the main questions I’m asked is can ethical fashion be fashion forward? Of course the answer is yes! If we think to just a few years back it was hard to find organic food and now it’s just part of ones normal grocery shopping experience- we might even be buying organic milk without even thinking twice about – so why not fashion? has always been designing fashionable clothes – they just happen to be ethical.

Q- Were you always interested in ethical fashion?
AZ – In some ways yes but not consciously at first. I started making things by taking the clothes I was bored with and re working them so I would like them again which is actually a very green thing to do. My great grand father wrote an ethical will as well as a legal one and this legacy inspired me that no matter what I ended up doing in life I wanted to combine my ethics with it which are benefiting people and planet and creating a good business.
It was two things that really made me want to do ethical fashion, the first was my friend’s thesis about Eco fashion that she wrote for her final year paper and the second was the event organized by anti apathy called RE: fashion at which Katharine Hamnett spoke about the issues around organic cotton.

Q – Did you see a gap in the ethical market and decided to create fashion forward ethical designs?
AZ – Absolutely. What I saw is there was a lot of great ethical brands but they had a very specific audience and they were mostly started by environmentally conscious people coming not necessarily from a fashion background but really making excellent and practical designs that were quite accessible and really thorough. I realized that my strengths, knowledge and experience meant that I should be working on luxury and high end products and that there were very few ethical brands really creating ethical luxury. I think it’s really vital that within the ethical fashion industry we have as much range and diversity as possible to show that any kind of product/design can be produced and be desirable.

Q – Can you tell me a bit more about your jacquard fabric?
AD – The Jacquard, silver and black, in my current AW 09 /10 collection was woven just outside of London in Sudbury by an amazing company called Vanners, who have been weaving silk jacquard since 1760. They use pure boiled silk and then dye it with AZO free dyes and weave absolutely amazing patterns with it. I went to visit their site where they have all the processes in one building, from the design department who translate designers’ artwork into information for the looms, the huge dye baths, the spinning and the incredibly complex machines that feed thousands of thin strands of silk through the looms and out comes the most beautiful fabrics. The inspiration for the Jacquard was celtic mythology and also the landscape of The British Isles and the many sites of megalithic architecture. I wanted to show how these things are interconnected and literally interwoven.

Q – You’re also an illustrator?
AD – Indeed! I have shown my illustrations as posters on the underground in Embankment, Knightsbridge and Holland Park stations as well as various London Galleries such as Nog Gallery on Brick Lane. Recently, I was commissioned by “Artist Gallery” in Moscow to create 4 new works which were exhibited there in Moscow alongside the photographer Mark LeBon. I use my illustrations to create artwork for my own designs (digital prints in my graduate collection and for the Jacquard in AW09) and I design prints for other labels.

Q – Is it difficult to source fabrics?
AD – From someone else’s perspective they would consider that my choices are more limited however for me personally I never feel limited by my choice of fabrics because I really don’t enjoy working with a fabric that is not sustainable and it pushes me to be more creative and inventive with what is available.

Q – What inspired your collection?
AD – The incantation of Amergin is inspired by the verse of the aforementioned bard who was the first poet of the Irish people and the book Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh. The book follows Alistair’s journey to help the residents of the Isle of Eigg to prevent their Laird from developing their mountain “Roineabhal” into a superquarry. The spirit and philosophy that the book presents is one that highlights the importance of ecology not just from a scientific point of view but from that of a community and human spirit. Ada also drew inspiration from Celtic mythology and much of the Megalithic architecture from across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Through creating strict silhouettes with modern and elegant fashionable shapes Ada is exploring how modern man can have the same desire for beauty and luxury whilst also engaging with eco consciousness.

Q – Where are you based?
AZ – I’m based in the East End of London! my studio is in Whitechapel.

Q – Will you be doing a show in September at London Fashion Week?
AZ – We’ll see…………….

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One comment

  1. Patricia McCarthy
    April 25, 2009 at 13:13

    Hi there,
    Just stunning stuff, really inspirational. I am an ethical designer too, and have been working for other top end designers. I am in the process of moving into designing a collection, but the process is long and I am enjoying finding all sorts of people using their brain to think of enviromental solutions. I have been bleeting on about all these issues for years and years and was treated like an alien, but I am so pleased I was right to think that way as others are catching up now. Beautiful work and all the best. I would like to keep in touch too.

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