“Many designers don’t have time to developing their ideas. It’s not human friendly anymore – there’s too much waste. Everyone is trying to cope with a pace that’s dictated by the fast fashion movement. There’s a big pressure on designers to produce more and more, and that’s killing creativity,” says Natalia Zawada, founder of ethical leisure wear brand, Starseeds.
LC: Tell us a bit about your background – you haven’t always lived in the UK have you?
SS: No, I’m Polish and I started my career studying traditional printing technique at Warsaw’s Academy of Fine Arts, during which time I also worked as a stylist assistant at fashion magazines such as Elle. Then I moved to London and spent a year interning with Alexander McQueen in the print department. During this busy time, I tried my first Jivamukti yoga class, and ever since yoga and the yogic philosophy has become a part of my lifestyle. At the same time I started studying tailoring at the London College of Fashion and became passionate about sustainable fashion.
LC: Tell us three things about your clothing that you want all your customers or prospective customers to know.
SS: Firstly, all the pieces are good for both the planet and the customer. By that, I mean that we care about the whole supply chain. We go to the factories as much as we can to check how fabrics are produced, and all the factories have the relevant certifications. Secondly, we select the most feel-good textiles – so whether it’s a bamboo, recycled coffee waste or organic cotton, we make sure it’s kind to the skin and doesn’t create an allergic reaction in any way. Thirdly, the fit must be good and work for different body shapes, not just skinny, fit people in their twenties! We do this via lots and lots of testing – allowing our friends, family and brand ambassadors to try things out for a couple of weeks, sometimes a couple of months. People tell us how the fabrics feel in terms of temperature and sweat. And we keep improving things until they are good enough.
LC: Athleisure-wear has sky-rocketed into popularity recently. Do you mind that label being put on your clothes and are there any particular challenges within the athleisure wear market?
SS: Some people say that the athleisure market is already saturated and it’ll all fade out soon, but I don’t agree. Yes, there’s a lot of competition and it’s hard to get noticed, but I don’t mind Starseeds being labelled as athleisure because for me athleisure is overall a positive thing. It’s part of an increasing and general change in attitude that goes with healthy and conscious living, meaning more people take care of their bodies and the planet.
LC: How do you feel about the state of the fashion business at the moment? What worries you?
SS: I feel that many designers don’t have time to developing their ideas. It’s not human friendly anymore – there’s too much waste. Everyone is trying to cope with a pace that’s dictated by the fast fashion movement, chains like Zara and H&M, which weren’t ever supposed to compete with designer labels (and yet are now indirectly influencing them). There’s a big pressure on designers to produce more and more stuff, and that’s killing creativity. The other concern I have is that people are being used, working for bad salaries and in bad conditions.
LC: We agree – all very valid concerns. So what is Starseeds doing to combat these issues?
SS: As much as we can, really. We think about any product’s durability and functionality and we’re creating timeless yet simple designs. We’re also trying to give the customers a chance to wear the most sustainable fabrics, offering them the chance to choose more consciously, for example recycled and natural fabrics (because not everybody likes organic cotton – some people say it isn’t as sustainable as it first seems). We go to trade shows in the hope of discovering new technologies or solutions, ways of making our clothing even better and more sustainable.
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