We are proud to be representing the UK as part of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange showcase – an initiative conceived by Eco-Age that celebrates artisanal fashion and skilled craftsmanship from the Commonwealth’s 53 countries.
All the looks created for the Commonwealth Fashion Project, including our elaborate off-shoulder evening gown, were unveiled during London Fashion Week at a reception hosted by the Duchess of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace.
The project brings together established fashion brands and emerging talent to foster new partnerships, networks and trade links, as well as to champion sustainability.
The gown we designed for the Fashion Exchange exhibition is made from a special fabric created in India. Eco-Age paired us with artisan co-operative, Oshadi based in Southern India, whose core sustainability values and ethical practices align closely with ours at Stella.
Highly-skilled artisans weave fabrics by hand and use natural dyes for as little impact on the environment as possible. The fabric is made from Peace Silk, meaning the silk worms grow out of their cocoons and live a full life cycle. This particular way of silk harvesting is cruelty-free and gives the silk a unique, rougher feel – similar to cotton. Through the introduction of sustainable materials and modern fabric-design manipulations, we’ve been able to bring a new dimension to these age-old weaving and dying techniques.
A single weaver takes around one day to create five metres of fabric, compared to machine production which creates more fabric in a fraction of the time. However we believe in the value of conserving traditional hand-crafting techniques and the importance of authentic handmade crafts. By getting behind this initiative and working with Oshadi, we’re helping to support local Indian artisans retain the culture of the region for generations to come.
At Oshadi workers are paid a good, fair wage and also has wage parity between the men and women who work there – an important factor for us. A core part of our ethos is ensuring we have a positive impact on the people we depend on and on those who depend on us in return.
The exhibition has moved to other London locations and will be open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April 2018.