Leandi recently showed her collection at the AFI Cape Town Fashion Week as part of the Fashion Revolution group. Hers spoke to sustainable fashion very directly in terms of fabric and manufacturing, and we can easily trace who made the clothes. (The images below are from the fashion show at the end of March.) We sent her a few questions about her work:
What inspired you to launch an eco-conscious label?
As a fashion student, I became increasingly aware of sustainability and ethical issues in the fashion industry. I learnt in particular how the fast fashion model is depleting the world’s natural resources at a higher rate than ever before; encouraging people to consume more and attach less value to their clothes. With this new, convicting information, I changed my lifestyle and attitude when it came to fashion design, consumerism and clothing. My work as a designer therefore gravitates towards exploring ecological and sustainable design through recycling and upcycling. I look at the resource potential of waste-clothing, and through using an intuitive and creative process I transform scraps of fabric into textile pieces used in my garments. Two years ago I launched my label, which I operate from Durban.
What makes it a sustainable and ethical label?
Sustainable fashion is an overarching term that consists of several interpretations. Ideally, sustainable fashion practices should enhance the wellbeing of all individuals and environments who interact with and within it. Sustainability can therefore be considered as fashion that opposes environmental destruction through a full-circle design approach that implements processes such as innovative/zero waste pattern making, upcycled/sustainable fabric and ethical construction. My latest collections all incorporate these practices as I use upcycling as the basis of my construction. Through upcycling techniques, post-consumer waste products are utilised, diminishing the footprint that waste clothing is engraving on our planet.
I make all of my clothes by hand. I use patchwork and handweaving to construct textiles through an intuitive and creative process. It’s incredibly rewarding to feel like my hands and personal energy have been part of every warp and weft of my textiles.
The denim that I’ve used comes from second-hand outlets, donations and textile company samples/swatches. I’ve also sourced second-hand kimonos from thrift stores in Japan. And many, many old saris from the incredible car boot market in Durban.
Have you seen the market for your clothes grow as awareness grows?
I think South African consumers are slowly becoming more aware of where our industry stands in terms of sustainability and the negative impacts of fashion on the planet and people. We still have a long, long way to go! I think the market appreciates my handwork and time that goes into construction. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating a conversation starter. If my designs can inspire people to be more mindful and think harder about their consumer habits, I feel like I’ve achieved my goal.
- Visit Leandi’s website here
- Photo credits: Supplied and African Fashion International