Livia Firth taking green to the red carpet

Colin Firth might be our favourite eye candy (that accent is like buttered scone to our ears), but who we admire even more is his arm candy, his wife Livia Firth. She is stunning, she is Italian, and she promotes eco-fashion. One of the most high profile faces of sustainable style, she has made it her mission to make ethical fashion the most stylish fashion proposition around. She started out by commissioning “eco-fashion designers” to create garments for her while she accompanied her husband on the red carpet. And it does take a lot conviction to pass big fashion houses in favour of smaller eco-designers and sometimes even wearing pre-owned clothes! Yes, for the Paris premiere of The King’s Speech, starring her husband Colin Firth, she famously wore an outfit made from one of his old (moth eaten) suits. Redesigned by the edgy, London based recycling brand Junky Styling, she made green look cool.

At the Paris premiere of The King's Speech in an outfit recycled from Colin Firth's old suit

At the Paris premiere of The King’s Speech in an outfit recycled from Colin Firth’s old suit

Later she started to team up with big designers for her Green Carpet Challenge (GCC). When her husband hosted the Met Ball in New York in 2011 – one of US fashion’s biggest nights – she wore a Stella McCartney jumpsuit made with organic silk and covered in reclaimed vintage beads, with a detachable skirt made of hemp. From being an ambassador for eco-fashion to starting a consultancy called Eco Age that works with brands that have sustainable and ethical practices, she also owns a store of the same name in Chiswick, west London. Here she sells everything including candles, cashmere cardigans and Italian leather handbags ‘tanned using a traditional technique based on the bark of the native chestnut tree and the mimosa flower’.

Livia Firth at the Met ball 2011, in a Stella McCartney

Livia Firth at the Met ball 2011, in a Stella McCartney

As part of GCC she also recently teamed up with Net-a-Porter. For this collaboration, Christopher Bailey, Victoria Beckham, Erdem, Christopher Kane and Roland Mouret created special pieces that conform to the GCC’s sustainability criteria, which cover social justice implications and environmental impact throughout production. And for every piece sold, Net-a-Porter will donate a percentage to (RED), which aims to eradicate the transition of HIV from mother to child.

In a reworked wedding dress with a slim black belt, at the Golden Globes 2010

In a reworked wedding dress with a slim black belt, at the Golden Globes 2010

Shopping for clothes that she intends to wear again and again, and recycling pre-owned clothes while styling them reflect herself are some of her sustainability mantras. These is also the essence of Fuffabulous, which is why we love Livia Firth and are always looking forward to what she is up to in the world of sustainable style.

Going green with love

It has been almost three weeks since the Bangladesh tragedy, where more than 1000 workers in a garment factory were killed. This is the not first horrific incident of this kind to have happened in a garment manufacturing unit in the country, but it is the deadliest disaster to hit the garment industry in Bangladesh that is worth $20 billion annually and supplies global retailers.

The cost of cheap fashion is getting unbearably high and this probably might work as the final trigger for the fashion industry to take the measures necessary to avoid any such tragedies in the future. In fact, as this story reports, H&M, C&A, Primark and Inditex, owner of the Zara chain, said they would sign a five-year contract that requires companies to conduct safety inspections, make factory conditions public and cover the costs for repairs. It also calls for them to stop doing business with any factory that refuses to make safety upgrades.

As the debate about ethics in the industry gains further momentum, it would also be the right time to discuss international brands that have adopted ethical and sustainable practices as a core philosophy for their brands. These are brands and designers that are trying to make a positive difference through fashion, and without any compromise on quality or style. Here are our 5 picks:

1. Stella Mc Cartney: “I design clothes that are meant to last. I believe in creating pieces that aren’t going to get burned, that aren’t going to landfills, that aren’t going to damage the environment,” says Stella Mc Cartney. One of the first designers to adopt the ethical and eco-friendly approach to manufacturing fashion, she made sustainable fashion a serious business. And she made it chic. Mc Cartney’s animal-friendly (no leather, no fur) designs and healthy-living attitude extends into her offices and studios in the UK that are powered by wind energy and abroad, they use renewable energy to power their stores and offices and a large part of their operations are run on 100% renewable, green energy. Read more at www.stellamccartney.com.

Fashion designer Stella Mc Cartney

Fashion designer Stella Mc Cartney

2. Edun:  Launched in 2005 by Ali Hewson and her husband, U2 singer Bono, this brand works to bring about positive change through its trading relationship with Africa. In 2009, LVMH bought a significant stake in EDUN and provides essential support, investment and infrastructure. As a 100 percent African “grow-to-sew initiative”, the brand’s sister line E Live has produced 700,000 African made T-shirts. In 2012, Diesel and Edun joined forces to further apparel trade and development in Africa and Diesel+EDUN was born. Learn more about their work at www.edun.com.

EDUN, Made in Africa

EDUN, Made in Africa

3. Toms: Toms ‘one for one’ concept is one of the most popular charitable initiatives take on by a fashion brand. When Toms sells a pair of shoes a pair of shoes is given to an impoverished child, and when Toms sells a pair of eye-wear, part of the profit is used to save or restore the eyesight for people in developing countries. Gives you a good reason to splurge on their signature espadrilles. Read more about their work at www.toms.com.

toms

4. People Tree: Designer collaborations with Thakoon and Bora Aksu are just some of the highlights, People Tree manages to achieve design excellence and embrace a green ethic with style. The company aims to use only organic and Fairtrade cotton, natural dyes, sources locally where possible and chooses recycled products. Their fairtrade initiatives span 20 developing countries. Learn more at www.peopletree.co.uk.

people tree

5. Marks and Spencer: The brand has been a pioneer in the sustainable approach when it comes to the high street. They introduced the ‘Shwopping’ initiative with Oxfam that allows shoppers to donate an unwanted item of clothing that will go on to be re-sold in Oxfam, re-used or recycled, cutting waste while raising funds for the charity. Their sustainable men’s suit uses components such as linings made from recycled PET bottle polyester from a hi-tech processing plant in Japan, recycled polyester zips, reclaimed pocket linings (surplus from their own production lines) and reclaimed stray buttons which would otherwise end up in landfill. Read more at marksandspencer.com/Shwop

A street transformed using 10,000 items of discarded clothing, during the launch of the Marks & Spencer initiative

A street transformed using 10,000 items of discarded clothing, during the launch of the Marks & Spencer initiative