Saida Bruce recently graduated from the London College of Fashion with an MA in Fashion and the Environment, but her knowledge and skill set is that of a couture doyenne. Her new collection, ‘Trace-in-Time’, encompasses “a design philosophy and process that mirrors and accentuates the attributes that people come to love about their clothing”. Each handmade garment is a wearable work of art, with every detail meticulously considered.
Saida with garments from her ‘Trace-in-Time’ collection at the MA exhibition at Victoria House Basement.
“My garments are designed to age gracefully and grow with the owner,” she says. “By inserting strategically positioned layers of printed fabrics in the weak areas of each garment, visual wear and tear forms part of communicating the wearers’ life experiences.”
Very delicate sheer fabrics were selected to showcase the specific design features of the weak areas, highlighted via the light boxes.
Saida has always rejected fast fashion with its transient value and inherent wastefulness. Her methodology reflects on the past, the present and the future, with one of her main objectives being ‘emotional durability’. “Having investigated the fashion life cycle holistically, I found a strong personal interest in the way we feel about the clothes we connect with and treasure. I think it is important for a designer to consider a garment’s life once it is in the user’s hands.”
Garments from Saida Bruce’s ‘Trace-in-Time’ collection.
Although the ‘Trace-in-Time’ collection is conceptual, Saida would like to develop the idea into a more commercial range of menswear, for those who ”wear their clothes to death!”
Last year, Saida spent a month immersed in the Sri Lankan garment industry, a major source of apparel for numerous well known UK high street retailers. As part of a collaborative project with The British Fashion Council and the London College of Fashion, Saida and fellow students undertook research to see what really goes on behind the scenes. She “witnessed positive changes in terms of sustainability, within manufacturing, from the factories themselves, to their corporate social responsibility which meant offering acceptable working conditions, welfare and adequate wage packages.”
One example of sustainable fashion flourishing in Sri Lanka and showing commercial success is that of the From Somewhere collaboration with Tesco. Using surplus fabrics from a Sri Lankan factory, the initiative has created a stylish, sustainable and easily affordable range of clothing.
Using materials that would otherwise end up in landfill is another trick of this young designer, who manages to take charity bag rejects and turn them into garments with the ‘wow’ factor. Whether it’s customising hemp and bamboo t-shirts to create cutting-edge streetwear or sewing delicate recycled silks to make glamorous evening dresses, Saida is gifted at tailoring creations for conscious fashion consumers. She has been commissioned to make one-off pieces but, I warn you, she now has a waiting list. (I’m proud to own a stunning bespoke Saida Bruce dress that makes an appearance 3 or 4 times a year for worthy events – I can assure you it’s worth the wait!)
Since 2008, Saida has coordinated the Sustainable Fashion area at the London Green Fair. As well as teaching youngsters dressmaking skills for life and running workshops on the likes of customizing and screen printing, she arranges the ethical fashion shows each year, with a host of sustainable labels.
The next London Green Fair takes place 4-5 June 2011 in Regents Park. Click here for more information.