London Fashion Week just ended, confirming once again the capital’s reputation as the hub of independent and avant-garde creation. In terms of craftsmanship and labour practices - the birthplace of punk is leading the way. 

WORDS Aya Noel


For her third season, Caitlin Charles Jones was inspired by the sweet candy colours of Sonja Delaunay’s work. The result is a lively collection with simple cuts in peachy pink, lavender blue and soft grey. Every piece is produced by hand in her London-based studio, using machines from the 1960s, which means that all the garments turn out slightly different and unique. Sustainability is a priority for the RCA-graduate: “The company is still so small that I can control everything myself, I literally oversee everything.” In the long run she would like to outsource and build up a network of independent craftsmen, slowly restoring a part of U.K. heritage.


Referencing both the 80s club in Soho and her grand-mothers favourite passtime, Scottish designer Samantha McCoach founded Le Kilt in 2014. Ever since she has been creating modern variations of the iconic skirt. With a playfully punk aesthetic, Samantha transformed the classic kilt into a “subcultural uniform”, almost as timeless as the original garment itself. The kilts are completed with delicate knitwear, tartan shirts and furry creepers, all produced and sourced in the U.K. These are clothes designed to last a lifetime, so you can have the time of your life at any club.


The Stockholm-based accessories brand encapsulates Swedish minimalism and design. Inspired by the vast and deserted Nordic landscapes but made for urban lifestyle. Designs are practical and clean, with just the right amount of hipster. The whole collection is produced by three different factories in India, with whom the Swedish brothers have a close and long-lasting relationship. They ensure good working conditions, wages and employee rights by working with the Fair Wear Foundation; so wearing Sandqvist also suits the activist.   


Since 2015 Camilla Elphick has been lighting up fashion weeks with her bold and witty designs. Her inspirations range from Vapor wave music and Smiley sto Chinese embroideries, passing by the Pez candy toys, by now the most recognisable (and best-selling) design. The Parsons-graduate was awarded the Positive Luxury award for using nothing but ethically sourced materials and protecting her workers. All her designs are handmade in Parabiago, a littletown near Milan known for its tradition of independent shoe makers. Camilla knows how to combine serious craftsmanship with comic creations.


John Smedley has been producing high-quality knitwear in Derbyshire for over 230 years - that's four generations of the same family - which makes it the oldest manufacturing company in the world. The company uses steam power and spring water, but when it comes to their designs, they do not dwell in the past. For SS17, the heritage brand known for its timeless pieces, presented utopian shapes in pastel hues, with a few splashes of bright neon blue and yellow. Long, sleeveless dresses were paired with flowing, clean-cut pants, creating a modern feminine look. Made with great skill and care, these pieces are loved long before you buy them.





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