Ada Zanditon and Ecover

Since graduating from London College of Fashion with a first class honours degree and debuting at London Fashion Week last year, Ada Zanditon has fast become one of the hottest new talents in fashion, with Noel Fielding's other half (Dee Plume from Robots in Disguise), Patrick Wolf and Groove Armada all admiring her work.

Photo: Paul Persky

But most importantly, Ada Zanditon has made a name for herself without comprise. The designer is as renowned for her ethical and environmental principles as she is for her cutting edge collections. Her eco creds go deeper than simply producing locally made clothes out of responsibly sourced fabrics: Ada has used her work to highlight the dire state of bee and bat populations as well as the erosion of the coral reefs.

We caught up with her to ask her about her work, and about her involvement with environmentally friendly cleaning products company, Ecover, which has just launched its most ecological laundry range to date.

Ada, tell us about you and how you came to be interested in ethical fashion

Since the age of six I had ambitions to become a fashion designer. I have also always been interested in conservation and global issues. Even at a young age I had a distinct interest in both and read Vogue and National Geographic with equal passion.

My epiphany happened when I listened to eco-fashion pioneer Katharine Hamnett, talking about the impact of the fashion industry on biodiversity. From this, I realised there was a synergy between my two areas of interest. I knew that my future was to create desirable innovative fashion that benefits people and planet.

How would you describe your signature style, and why do you think you're so hot at the moment?

I don't know about the last part of the question.... hopefully being sustainable means cool steady growth as a brand rather than being flash in the pan. I would describe my signature style as sculptural, elegant, desirable fashion, embellished with my unique illustrations, geometrically cut, clean modern lines, combined with texture and intricate detailing.

Photo: Paul Persky

How do you work to achieve eco-fashion status?

I consider everything from start to finish of creating a garment and love sourcing new sustainable fabrics. Tencel and Fairtrade Organic Cotton are my current favourites as they are machine washable and the process from seed to growth, weaving, dying and spinning is all done sustainably. I ensure that waste is kept to an absolute minimum, finding ways to use the leftover pieces.

All of my clothes are manufactured in London, I like to be able to jump on the bus and travel a short distance to talk face-to-face with the people producing the clothing. As an ethical brand, it is important to see manufacturing conditions and know who your suppliers are.

In my studio, I recycle, use an eco-printer and energy saving light bulbs, and even grow tomatoes – I make the best effort I can to do as much as possible.

What is the impact of fashion on the environment and what can people do to minimise it?

There are several different ways that fashion has an impact on the environment. The way materials are produced, materials and clothes are transported and the amount of waste that is produced are just three examples.

We can all do very simple things too like washing at 30 degrees – it really saves energy and washing clothes has a very big impact. I think developing a sense and confidence in your personal style and wherever possible getting the best quality for what you can afford rather than buying the cheapest things in bulk.

Ada, what are your eco-fashion tips – what should you look for and how can you switch to eco-fashion

The eco-fashion sector has grown quickly and there is an eclectic mix of interesting, independent designers in the UK who focus on sustainability. Check out www.youngbritishdesigners.com for a list of independent, UK designer brands to find ethical and ecological brands.

The easiest way to switch to eco-fashion is to look at what you wear already and then find the ethical or ecological alternative. This way you will achieve your style ecologically.

 

Explain how choosing to wash ecologically is the missing link in eco-fashion

One of the biggest impacts after purchase is how clothes are cared for. We live in a world where people are constantly washing their clothes more than necessary and the chemicals used in laundry products are entering the water system. That is why I have professionally used Ecover's laundry range to look after my clothes since the start of my business in 2008. Not only do they work brilliantly but they are kinder to the environment.

I use the Ecover Non-Bio Powder for coloured tencel fabrics as the powder is suitable for whites and colours and it doesn't contain any harmful optical brighteners. For sheer fabrics I like to hand wash using Ecover Delicate. It is gentle yet effective and not only does a fantastic job in caring for and cleaning fabrics, but I also know that there are no harmful chemicals which will pollute the water system. For me there is no compromise, we don't need to use harsh and unpleasant chemicals to clean our clothes.

How did the partnership with Ecover come about?

Ecover has supported my fashion events in the past and with the launch of the new laundry range, it was the perfect fit to work with an eco-fashion designer to encourage people to think about how they care for their clothes.

Ecover is ecological from start to finish, from sourcing ingredients to methods of production, and taking into account impact of the products after use; these are all things that I have to consider from start to completion of every garment. Choosing an ecological product for the care of your clothes is an easy choice to make and knowing that you are contributing and making a difference feels good too.

What natural household cleaners would we find in your kitchen cupboards?

I actually do use all Ecover cleaning products – I find they are the most effective, ecological cleaning brand and there really is a product for every household job. I love the every day products like the washing up liquid and have recently started using the hand soap.

For me, it's not just about caring for the environment but also about me, I do not want to surround myself with chemicals used in non-eco cleaning products – we don't need to use these chemicals in our homes.

 

And any beauty products in your bathroom?

I am totally addicted to Burt's Bees – I love and use all their products especially the day cream, lip balm – a classic! And the grapefruit shampoo.

How do you see eco fashion evolving in the next decade?

Hopefully, to the point where it is just called fashion and we view everything else as non-ethical / non-sustainable fashion. At some point it should just be expected and normal, and the customer buys the product because it is what they want and need. The fact that it is ethically sourced and manufactured is just ordinary.

Check out Big Green Smile's Laundry department for a full range of environmentally friendly washing products including Ecover's ecological washing powders and liquids.

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