SUSTAINABLE STYLE: Fashion eco-campaigner Livia Firth has turned designer, launching a capsule collection in collaboration with British high-street retailer Marks & Spencer.
It marks the continuation of a partnership that began last October, when Firth curated a collection of 25 M&S pieces made ethically from sustainable materials.
The capsule line consists of staple pieces, such as knee-length dresses, culottes and boxy-cut tops, in a palette of navy, black and green. Firth took inspiration from images of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn to echo the elegant simplicity of the Fifties. She focused on perfecting each item’s fit when working with M&S’s design team.
“We added pockets to the dresses but made sure they didn’t outline the hips, adjusted the lengths of tops to ensure they are flattering and the waist is nipped in the right places, so you can have a full meal without any worries,” Firth told WWD. “I tried everything on to make sure it’s flattering and comfortable for women. Sometimes, I think some designers create clothes for women who don’t even exist.”
Firth said M&S’s commitment to using ethical production methods has always resonated with her.
“I can’t say it enough, Marks & Spencer is one of the most transparent companies I have worked with. I have taken part in other projects where I constantly have to push the button and try to challenge people, while in this case the team admitted to any issues and was open to finding solutions. That’s why we traveled to Brazil to understand the leather supply chain,” said Firth.
The collection includes a range of handbags in leather sustainably sourced from Brazil. Firth traveled to the country’s Mato Grosso region to work with ranchers firsthand and understand the issues they face.
“A project like this can be a game changer because it tells ranchers located thousands of miles away that customers care about sustainability,” she said.
Firth was less hopeful about other high-street retailers whose businesses are based around the fast-fashion model. She has been working on a campaign called #30Wears to educate the consumer about making responsible purchasing decisions about items that are likely to have a long life span in their wardrobes.
In addition, Firth said she will be skipping London Fashion Week this season. She usually hosts the Green Carpet Challenge, for which London-based brands produce ethical designs.
She looks forward to a less hectic fashion schedule in the future, following the recent announcements by Burberry and Tom Ford that they would be shifting their runway shows to focus on consumers.
“It’s up to them to break up the system,” she said. “And I’m glad they finally pulled the trigger.”
The collection is priced between 59 pounds, or $85 at current exchange, for a pair of cropped trousers and 149 pounds, or $215, for a leather tote. It is being sold on the M&S Web site, as well as at a pop-up shop in the retailer’s Oxford Street flagship, from Feb. 11 to 15.