Is Made To Order The New Sustainable Norm?
The tenets of luxury fashion haven't changed much, however, the integration of sustainable practises and a sustainable ethos behind a brand is fast becoming one of the most important. As sustainable fashion has solidified itself into the bones of the luxury sector, it becomes part of every conversation within the industry and almost daily, more truths about the true state of sustainability are exposed.
It’s therefore important not only to have complete transparency within the fashion industry due to the scale and scope of what’s covered by sustainability, but it’s important to have access as a consumer.
Not Just A Label showcases a myriad of designers whose prime focus is on sustainable fashion, as well as creating a platform for articles that open up various conversations and highlight the current and potential change. Only recently has NJAL dissected the industry’s practice of destroying dead inventory whilst exploring NJAL’s made-to-order model for sustainability inside its own hub of designers and brands. It allows potential consumers to realise that the true value of sustainability doesn’t distract from creativity and design — a flaw in how sustainable fashion has been presented in the past with dull hues of browns and greens in non-flattering cuts.
Now we take it one step further as we question whether made-to-measure is becoming the sustainable norm to dressing and dressing well for our planet.
Zaff Ben Jibby is doing exactly this. A gender fluid brand still in its infancy having started in 2020, but making its mark with a small, affordable and carefully crafted haute collection. Their approach to collections is simple, “for now, our collections are based on a ready to wear, made-to-order basis” explains the designer. “I think it gives consumers the idea of exclusivity. These are ways for a person to feel special and original in a vast world that's already full with mass production and cloned goods.”
This idea of value equating itself to bespoke is inherent in the fabric of made-to-measure, which inevitably, is a more sustainable method of production. But for some designers, it’s also the most sustainable method of creating a collection when it’s harder to access materials. “I hope that I can contribute more in the future by adapting to recyclable made sources which are rarely available in my country,” states Jibby, who continues to describe their process. “My approach for now is to use a single type fabric (non-blended), so it is easier for the sorting process during recycling if one day, my consumer recycles their garment. It may look like a small approach, but I believe it could help a lot if there are others who are leaning into the same approach.”
Romz J joins a realm of made-to-measure designers on NJAL with quirky sweaters, boldly printed satin silks and effortlessly cool silhouettes. The luxurious element of bespoke is evident with this collection designed and constructed in Ireland with locally sourced Merino wool from Donegal, organic cottons, and a collection hand-knitted by locals.
The brand’s simple structure allows it to move with its customers so whilst the downfall of many bespoke brands is the wait time to have a piece made, which on average for Romz J is twenty one days; bursting with colour and charm and knowing that each piece is designed exclusively for its intended consumer, the element of exclusivity and the high level of production quality makes the wait worthwhile. And platforms like Not Just A Label make purchasing made-to-measure easier and less intimidating than it has been for too long.
The impact that mass production has on people, nature and even our mental health is undeniable. Fashion craftsmanship has become so unaffordable to many, whilst many bigger brands have moved away from limiting numbers of production for financial gain, that only now are we being reminded of what bespoke truly stands for. Clothing designed to last. Clothing that stands for creative expression. Clothing that celebrates craft over economical demand. Bespoke is a reminder of the sustainable components that will help the global fashion scene reach goals that are now being set across the industry.
KARPOVA’s ethereal collections are aesthetically luxe. Featherweight, neutral, oversized and angular; sharp cuts, structured layers contrasting with the light and flowing fragments of fabric. For an achromic palette, so much is happening caused by an array of shapes, folds, creases and ruffles.
There’s a relatively short turnaround time for bespoke pieces and the use of jute handled with impeccable tailoring creates an almost perfect example of how bespoke can be both affordable and special without provoking unnecessary and harmful impact on the environment or industry workforce.
There is still the element of using new fabrics that often causes a stir, but thankfully, the volume of unsold clothing that never really gets anywhere is something that many designers have been utilising for new collections in the past few years from Bode to Storey and Christopher Raeburn and many more. Can this method of reusing be adopted by global fashion houses forevermore, but is it financially viable and as sustainable as we think?