Sustain your style
If ever there was a style trend that can affect our lives for the good, it’s eco-fashion. So we salute Jenevieve Lyons, the SA designer who flew our flag high at Finland’s Helsinki Fashion Week, with its emphasis on sustainable fashion.
In the age of global warming and environmental decline, there’s barely an aspect of our lives that isn’t at risk – and that’s all the more reason to play our part in going green. One area to embrace: sustainable fashion, which involves recycled materials, natural fabrics, techniques that are not harmful to the environment and an emphasis on buying local.
So we were thrilled when SA designer Jenevieve Lyons was chosen to show at Helsinki Fashion Week, with its emphasis on the importance – and beauty – of sustainable style.
A finalist in the 2013 AFI Fastrack programme at Mercedes-benz Fashion Week Joburg and a rising star in AFI’S 2014 Next Generation Designers programme, Jenevieve has dreamt of designing since childhood. And now she is – with a difference that makes all the difference!
How did it feel to be invited to Helsinki Fashion Week?
It was amazing to learn about other cultures, to attend panel discussions on subjects like body positivity, sustainability and sexuality, and to interact with 12 other designers from around the world – people like the Mexican designer Benito Santos and the Finnish label AALTO. The natural beauty of the Suomenlinna Islands, where Helsinki Fashion Week was held, was inspiring in itself. I also loved the ‘Nordic Reflections’ theme, with its emphasis on simplicity, minimalism and global cultures.
What did you put on the ramp?
I showcased my interpretation of South African fashion and culture, with a focus on the individuality of people with albinism, as well as the risks that they face globally.
How does your brand work sustainably?
The Jenevieve Lyons brand is all about intricate pieces with a strong focus on structure and tailoring. We produce ethically, use non-polluting equipment, and help to create employment. When it comes to fabrics, we steer away from synthetics, like nylon and polyester.
What did you show at Helsinki Fashion Week?
My collection was a unisex range featuring muted tones, opaque silks over heavy wools, and layering. And it was called Mac·u·la (pronounced mak-yuh-lee). Mac·u·la refers to a spot or blotch, which can be seen as an ugly mark on the skin, or as something beautiful and individual.
Why is this important and what does it say to consumers?
I hope that this collection encourages people to embrace the things that make them different to others, even if they deem them as ugly or as flaws. I’d love to see people showing off their individualistic traits with pride.
Why does sustainable and eco-fashion matter?
As clichéd as it sounds, we only have one world and we must take care of it! Fast fashion is growing at an incredible pace, and its negative effects on our environment are second only to oil, which is the world’s number one polluter. We’re talking unethical working conditions, instances of cheap child labour, the depletion of natural resources and high use of fossil fuels. And then, when the fads are over, the unwanted clothes end up in landfills, which cause even more pollution.
Environmental destruction seems like an overwhelming problem. How can we contribute to solutions in our own small ways?
One easy solution is to buy local! We have great designers in SA and you can find fantastic quality on our shores. Buying local clothes helps to support our economy, encourages job creation and protects the environment. And also look for eco-friendly clothes.
We hear a lot about being ecofriendly, but how can we tell if a garment is eco-friendly.
You’ll find the answer to that question on the care label. As a general rule, the more symbols you see, the less sustainable the garment. A lot of symbols indicate many processes, from inorganic fabrics and toxic dyes to the transport that was involved in getting the piece to the store. If you can, stick to clothing only made from natural fibres, like wool, cotton and silk.
Where does personal style fit into all of this?
It’s very much about personal style rather than quick-fashion fads! Invest in quality that will last for years, rather than trends that you throw away after a season, and you’ll look great – and be taking better care of our world.
Is vintage applicable?
Absolutely! Vintage clothes are a great way to protect the environment, and have a unique character and style, so you’ll stand out. Beside, why would you want to throw things away when they can last you year after year? Rosario started the sustainable fashion line Studio One Eighty Nine in 2013, and highlights environmental concerns via social media.