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Chic Chats #26 – When being an Outsider is sustainable…

“We don’t want to preach about ethics to our clients. We simply want to create the solution for them.” Noorin Khamisani, founder of Outsider.

Outsider was launched in 2009 with the intention of selling, creating and designing beautiful garments with a thoughtful approach. Everything made by Outsider can be worn and loved season after season; they’re designed to last and be loved. Outsider styles have found favour with actresses Elizabeth Moss and Emma Thompson, as well as Livia Firth of Eco Age & The Green Carpet Challenge.

Lawfully Chic caught up with Outsider’s founder, Noorin Khamisani, who works as a lecturer, teaching fashion students how to approach sustainability and ethics.

LC: Is it possible to run a successful company and still have a heart?

NK: Yes, with determination and strong beliefs anything is possible. It just takes one outsider to make a difference!

 

 

LC: Can you tell our readers a bit about you and the reasons why you established Outsider Fashion?

NK: After graduating from university, I worked for a variety of independent designers and high street brands.  Within a few years I began questioning the way in which fashion was being designed and produced.  The pace, the materials, the relationships with suppliers on the other side of the world.  I decided to start my own brand based on ethical and sustainable approaches to design, to offer an alternative to the conventional offer. That was 10 years ago, alongside my own brand I began working with fashion students. My focus is on design for sustainability in fashion.

 

LC: What are the three main things that consumers can do to increase their sustainability credentials or be more ethical consumers? What should we be focussing on, and why?

NK: Reducing our consumption is the biggest and most impactful thing we can all do. Using what we already have and perhaps sharing what we have, consider borrowing from a friend rather than buying something. If you have to buy something, then research is essential to make sure the item was made ethically: look at Fashion Revolution’s website. Buy organic where possible, especially with cotton where conventional cotton uses huge amounts of pesticides and insecticides. Try to avoid polyester in anything that will be washed a lot, as microfibres are released every time you wash synthetic fabrics (See Friends of the Earth for more info). I recommend looking at the Ethical Consumer magazine, as they do very thorough research and present it in an easy to follow way.

 

 

LC: What are the main challenges facing the fashion industry today, in your opinion?What are the main things you’d teach your students, for example?

NK: The systems within which we operate currently are a huge challenge. We cannot continue with infinite growth on a finite planet. Therefore the fast fashion model needs to change. With students we look more and more at alternative systems, circularity, offering services rather than just making more.  For example fashion rental and repair services offer us new avenues to explore.

 

LC: What will happen to the world of fashion if we don’t take care to become more ethical consumers / what are your worst predictions for the future? And also what’s the best case scenario?

NK: As predicted resource shortages become real, the fashion industry will be forced to change. So in my view, it is better to prepare and make changes now, explore new materials, new modes of making and interaction with fashion. Fashion as a form of personal expression will always exist. Its manifestation will simply evolve. We certainly need to evolve away from excessive consumption and fast fashion. I hope we will see a return to an appreciation of fashion as a craft and more people gaining the skills to make, repair or alter their garments.


LC:
What else do you want to ensure our readers know / what do you want to say?

NK: Never feel that the small changes you make don’t mean something. If we all make changes, we will contribute to a better future. But this is not only a fashion industry problem, we need to look at the way humans interact with our planet as a whole. This requires joined up thinking. What we eat and how we choose to travel also add significantly to our carbon footprints. The most important thing is to be informed, ask questions and seek reliable research to understand how to make the best choices. Ultimately sustainability must start from each individual.