Interview with Valerie Goode of Kitty Ferreira
We talk to Valerie Goode, designer of the amazing brand, Kitty Ferreira, ahead of Brighton Fashion Week, just next week! With out fashion week bringing light to sustainable and ethically sourced clothing, Valerie Goode talks to us about the importance of this in the fashion industry, what the future holds and all about silkworms!
Did you know around 40-50,000 silkworms are boiled alive in order to make just one fast fashion silk blouse on the high street?
BFW: What are the inspirations behind your brand?
VG: I take inspiration from nature, how my grandmother (whom the label is named after) was upcycling long before it became fashionable, how she used nature to feed and heal herself juxtapose it with living in a cosmopolitan city.
I approach ethical fashion from a historic political and economic perspective, looking at imperialism & colonialism through to the capitalist system we have today which allows for a disparity of wealth & health across the globe. How it affects social injustices and immobility even within our own society- music is also an inspiration from Public Enemy to Akala who eloquently depicts these issues. A paradigm shift is needed from the root, a change of attitude toward people and planet. Foremost people!
Without true respect for people, for yourself, a respect for planet will be feeble.
BFW: How do you think you are different to the other fashion brands around at the moment?
VG: I’m a trained commercial designer. I’ve approached the aesthetic in a wearable way, designing timeless and elegant ethical fashion that dispels the ‘hippy’ connotations.
I had met Tamsin from The Ethical Fashion Forum recently who noted how difficult it is to find ethical occasion wear. I try to fill that gap.
BFW: Have you faced any particular challenges whilst setting up your brand?
VG: Yes, all of my contacts I had made over my 10+ year career became obsolete. I had to start from scratch, from sourcing and manufacturing through to learning how to send out the ethical message in an understandable manner.
The biggest challenge has been in sourcing UK made ethical fabrics.Though just recently I found what I believe is the only UK based Peace Silk farmer, who grow and harvest their own silk worms in a cruelty free manner and produce the finished fabric in the UK too!
How important is environmental sustainability to the brand? And how do you ensure it features?
VG: The brand has been built around environmental sustainability from the start as opposed to implementing sustainability and CSR into the business as these larger retailers have the challenge to do. The catalyst was witnessing the pollution in China whilst working there as a Senior Designer.
I returned to the UK vowing to not contribute to that by sourcing upcycled materials in the UK and where possible, British made materials to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible. I also use herbal dyes to offset toxicity in our waters, Organic Peace Silks and now digitally print with herbal dyes which is even more environmentally friendly than printing with Azo-free dyes.
The beauty of the ethical fashion supply chain is that it is always evolving; there are new technologies, processes and materials appearing all the time.
VG: Did you know around 40-50,000 silkworms are boiled alive in order to make just one fast fashion silk blouse on the high street? Organic Peace Silks allow the silk worms to live a full cycle and break free from their cocoons naturally. They need 14 days in their cocoon feeding off the silk inside. This means only half as much silk is left at the end of the process, which is the main reason most silk producers bypass the ethics and kill the silkworms as soon as they cocoon. Once the moth has broken free, it spends four days mating, before laying its eggs, and dying.
BFW: How do you feel the fashion industry needs to change?
VG: There’s a wealth of information at design, product development and manufacture level, however I feel the retailers need to be more open to taking on sustainable and ethical designers, like myself who can scale and offer commercial product. The initial problem is at education level where sustainability is an afterthought when it ought to be taught as the focal point. This would lead to better sustainable fashion business programs thus retailers would be better prepared to accommodate.
Ethical fashion is more a mindset based on common sense after all. I have had many lovely discussions with Carol Rose from WRAP who educates retailers on introducing sustainability into their businesses and how we would remake the world! The main financial beneficiaries of the fashion world are the shareholders when all stakeholders need to be included. As Lucy Siegle had put it, how is it that a billion pound industry seems unable to look after those at the bottom?
BFW: What are your plans for the future?
VG: The longterm vision is to rival non- ethical brands on the high street.
Kitty Ferreira will be showcasing her SS16 collection at Brighton Fashion Week's Sustain catwalk show on Friday 16th October.
Facebook: Kitty Ferreira UK Twitter: @KittyFerreiraUK