Before diving into the main conversation, what’s some of your background – personal, educational, professional, and so on? Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Greece, studied cinema, theatre and cultural management and lived in England and France until I ended up in Luxembourg. I’ve worked mostly in content creation and film/theatre reviewing, then switched to fashion design; that was the moment I realised how creation is something divine. Literally. You are out in the streets and you bump on a girl wearing a dress you have designed. It’s the best feeling ever. That’s why after some time in corporate administration, and after being haunted by this creative quest, and animating upcycling workshops in Luxembourg, I decided to combine purposefully creation and ethics for my startup WHAT.EVE.WEARS.
You have self-defined as an “ethical fashion evangelist” with a passion for “all things sustainable, ethical and conscious” in addition to “raising awareness and advocating on upcycling, recycling, swapping, [and] mending.” What defines each title and activity?
I always loved the environment; already at school I was part of the environmental group, where we were learning about composting waste and going tree-planting. I believe a certain awareness was always in me, but it took a while to make the connection between Fast Fashion and environment and realise that the fashion industry pollutes the environment to such a degree, only second to the oil industry. Not to mention the unjust work practices involved i.e. child labour and all the rest.
What brings these self-definitions together?
All of the above are one thing in essence: trying to buy less, buy better, produce less waste and be conscious to the whole production chain behind the garments and all the products we buy for that sake. Sustainability is all about that. Making sure that the way we are doing things is the right one and does not replenish resources, whether they are natural or human.
The idea behind, as I said, is to create the alternative to fast fashion collections. My love for natural fibres and sustainability took this idea further, and my need to help my home country, made me decide I would like to produce the collection there. Greece, and especially the area of Thessaloniki has a track record in fashion production, even if due to cheap labour in the Balkan area and due to the economic crisis the fashion industry now is not blooming like before.
What about its name?
I was lucky with the name; many people get it and love it! The Biblical Eve, back in the Garden of Eden before eating the apple, was walking around naked. She had no need for clothes, not even for the fig leaf actually; that’s the painters’ invention. I come and make a hypothesis: if Eve would need to wear some clothes back in the Garden of Eden, what type of clothes would they be? And I’m coming up with an answer: Eve would wear ethical and sustainable fashion, garments that are not harming the environment, the animals or the workers involved in their production. It makes sense, don’t you think?
The Spring/Summer 2016 collection is coming up. What is the theme for this particular collection?
It is a capsule collection, no more than 6 – 7 pieces. The theme was innocence with some vintage elements. I’ve chosen earth colours, romantic lace, which gave some sweet, girly pieces. I also love unisex fashion, so I do have two pieces that I wear most of the time, much more neutral and can be literally worn by girls or boys alike.
You gave a talk entitled Ethical Fashion at Ideas from Europe. What is ethical fashion? What is sustainable fashion?
Ethical and sustainable fashion is what we call Slow Fashion and call it this way because it’s the opposite to Fast Fashion. It encompasses countless elements, but the goal is to create a system, which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility (and yes, that is from Wikipedia). This can be translated in so many ways: produce locally, support artisans, create vegan or cruelty-free, upcycle, reuse and repurpose last season stock, buy vintage clothing, work with no-waste patterns, timeless design, polymorphic clothes and there’s so much room for experiment when it comes to using sustainable textiles. It’s a totally new field and a very exciting one!
What is their importance with salient examples?
The importance of sustainable fashion is quite clear: we are creating a better, more just world of fashion, just for all parties involved. We are aiming for transparency together with the Fashion Revolution movement, because transparency is the only way we can convince corporations to be accountable for their production lines. We encourage customers to ask corporations #WhoMadeMyClothes and we, new designers dedicated to ethical fashion are ready to answer #ImadeYourClothes and show the good working conditions and give every single detail related to ethically sourced materials and the like. The end customer who wears our products can make sure he is not ‘carrying’ the pain of others in his shoulders.
We will launch the full website very soon. We are also ready to deliver corporate wear like aprons or t-shirts, all from organic cotton and produced ethically in Greece. Also, our story is well-documented on Social Media, so whoever is interested in ethical and sustainable fashion would find it useful to follow us.