Hilary Alexander OBE hardly needs an introduction. She is the former Fashion Director of The Daily Telegraph in the UK, the editor-at-large of Hello Fashion Monthly and style contributor for Fenwick’s London despite having retired. She has appeared on BBC2’s Style Challenge, The Weakest Link, Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Next Top Model. She has twice been awarded ‘Journalist of the Year’ at the British Fashion Awards. Diane Von Furstenberg once famously called her an “incredible force” in the fashion industry.
Hilary Alexander kindly took the time from her busy schedule to check out the brands that exhibited at this year’s SOURCE Brand Preview and here shares with us her five favourite brands.
SOURCE Brand Preview is the largest digital fashion showcase featuring over 140 of the latest and best sustainable brands from around the world. The event happened online over two days – 2-3rd March 2016. Visit our website to discover all the brands who exhibited.
Hilary Alexander has chosen the five following brands because of the “intriguing and exciting blend of contemporary viewpoints mixed with ancient handcrafts/folklore/artisan input/indigenous materials.”
She also looked for excellence in photography with a website that felt like an exciting place to visit which reflected the nature and aesthetic of each individual brand.
“I would happily wear any of these pieces!” she told us.
Hilary Alexander’s Top 5 Brand Picks
ABURY brings together exciting designers with traditional artisans from remote and inspiring cultures. The designer is embedded in a craft culture for roughly two months to learn and share ideas from one another and to create a collection together, bringing the best of heritage knowledge and wisdom to high design.
The new collection is from Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, handmade in Ecuador. It is called “A Non-Existent Tribe” – as Pam is from Zimbabwe but spent time learning the traditions and sharing her own knowledge with artisans in the Andes of Ecuador. The models used in the lookbook are from Kazakstan and Croatia, while the brand is based in Berlin. Together they create a new form of style tribe!
ABURY shares its profits with the ABURY Foundation and through the Foundation gives back the production time in education time to the respective communities. So far ABURY has created a school in Morocco where 40 women and 32 children go to school every day.
ABURY’s customer is a self-conscious and confident, stylish city woman. She loves to travel and explore cultures. She thinks about her social and environmental responsibility and is well educated on a high income.
American brand Callina creates timeless knitwear for “women who seek quality, strive for perfection and never settle.” Callina’s collection includes pullovers, cardigans, capes, vest, and accessories.
Callina partners with master artisans, each collection incorporating handcrafted details and distinctive designs to help preserve traditional techniques in communities where these exquisite skills have been passed down for generations.
Callina uses alpaca fibers from the region of Puno, Peru. These are delightfully soft and luxurious fibres created to high quality standards. Alpaca are gentle on the land, highly efficient animals when it comes to grazing and resilient animals that can tolerate extreme temperatures and difficult conditions. They also offer a natural palette of 15 beautiful colours.
The brand is committed to giving back to the community by donating school supplies and funds to local communities. Callina supports a local boarding school in the remote region of Puno, where the children of the alpaca shepherds can stay and study.
Kaligarh means artisan in Nepali and was established to create opportunities for craft communities in the Himalayas. Most small-scale artisans work independently, in their homes or in small workshops tucked away in the alleys of the old towns of the Kathmandu Valley.
Kaligarh’s designs pay tribute to the art and artisans of the Himalayan region, both ancient and contemporary. Its jewellery and furniture plays with motifs and designs inherited from generations past, re-crafting them into new forms. Each Kaligarh piece is entirely handmade, even the the chain and the clasp – making each piece extra special.
The Aaran and Thoka Collections offer contemporary pieces that fit in well in boutiques and curated websites. The Puraniya Collection offers a diverse range that showcases some of the finest Himalayan craftsmanship, including the fading art of repoussé, which works well in boutiques as well as museum shops.
Kaligarh has been featured on the pages of Vogue India and Condé Nast Traveller and is stocked in specialist boutiques around the world.
4) MA RA MI
MA RA MI offers exclusive designs using traditional crafts from different countries and cultures. The brand was created by designer Andra Clitan in her desire to go beyond borders and create a fusion between Romanian traditional art and costumes with different cultures from all over the world.
Andra seeks to preserve cultural clothing and techniques while transforming them into innovative designs – a powerful hallmark of originality, manifested in shape, texture, ornamentation and chromatics.
MA RA MI uses felt production, hand weaved fabrics, different types of embroideries from Transylvania, Romania providing much-needed work for a significant number of house wives living in remote villages. The brand has also used a range of other cultural fabrics and techniques such as handwoven “pina”, “abaca” fabrics made in the Philippines by local communities.
5) The Autonomous Collections
The Autonomous Collections is a London based brand with bold aesthetic that is both wearable and considered. Kim Stevenson, the brand’s founder and designer, is from Geelong, Australia and takes inspiration from combining rural and city life in a way that represents the value of handicraft, but also aesthetically appeals to exciting new directions in style and youth culture.
Kim Stevenson says “I look at techniques common in indigenous people throught the world, combine this with a city environment and make those techniques fresh, exciting and new. It is important to me to find the fine line of creativity and wearable at the same time.”
Everything is handmade in the UK using organic and recycled materials and using scraps and off-cuts to make interesting textures, thus minimising waste through design.