Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Interview: Kira Heuer at Bib & Sola

In the second of my series of quick interviews, I've spoken to Kira Heuer, founder of Bib & Sola. You may remember Bib & Sola (meaning 'drink and comfort' in Latin) from a post I did a month or so ago featuring their pop-up shop, Imbue. Purveyors of beautiful things, they stock a selection of very carefully edited products, including the beautiful hand-blown Murano glass carafe you see pictured below, as well as a few of our very own pieces from the AW12 collection.

Kira (pictured above with Oliver Proudlock of Made in Chelsea on the left, at the Imbue launch) took time out of her busy schedule to chat to me about her thoughts on Bib & Sola and the water plight that means so much to her:

The philosophy behind Bib & Sola places a lot of influence behind raising awareness of the increasing rarity of water. What inspired you to raise awareness about this? 
It began with a story in National Geographic, something struck me about a group of women water bearers and I wanted to know more. The next thing I knew, I was deep in documentaries and reading anything I could get my hands on.

Do you think that fashion with a greater cause is the way forward? 
I think awareness is the way forward in all industries. The fashion world has such an incredible influence on so many levels.  I don't think we need to stand on our pedestal and preach, I think it is more in creating a thoughtfulness.  Aesthetics that inspire a thoughtfulness to connect a bit more to bringing a sense of balance. 

Your first range of products is a collection of Venetian hand-blown glass water carafes. What was it that made you choose these as your launch product? 
The glass vessels are an old world tradition in drinking, harnessing civility in that you have your own personal drinking carafe. As you drink from your water set, you are connected to something bigger then you. I also wanted to work with hand blown glass, Murano glass in particular, as it represents an art form that I covet. Such a beautiful artisanal tradition with a relevant history. 

How are you hoping Bib & Sola will evolve in the future?  
There are great plans for the future; we are working with some collaborators at the moment, as well as gifting, hotel and restaurant talks.  We are also looking to work with well known artists to do their own work on the carafes and presenting them as limited editions - using the carafes as the blank canvas to connect aesthetics with ethics. 

In an economic environment where people are looking for ways to cut costs on their personal spending, how would you encourage consumers to invest in luxury products with a conscience? 
I think you bring up a great point when you ask this question, invest being the operative word.  We need to take a breath and purchase from a place which becomes special to you.  Something that will last and become part of a lineage. As for conscious purchases, ask questions.  Find out where it was made, what the products do to the environment, the people producing the products.  These questions will lead to more questions - awareness is key. Try to respect and support the ones spending the time to do right and give them power.  Fair trade is always a great empowerment on all levels.

What is your ultimate aim for the Bib & Sola brand? 
To become a well-known brand for water awareness using art, design and editorial as the elements to drive the voice. 

What can we expect to see from Bib & Sola over the next year? 
We are getting great responses from our blog so we decided to expand our editorial side.  We will be taking on contributing writers and developing our "water stories".  We will also be working with well known artists… but I don't want to give too much away!

How would you encourage fashion conscious consumers to consider the ethical implications of their habits? 
I think we need to move away from shock and guilt, find ways to inspire each other to be part of something that has the ability to strengthen rather then weaken.  Create ways to come together, play off each other and try to make it fun.  The subject matter can be quite daunting for some so the only way we can gain positive momentum and change is through collaborations, inspiration and enjoyment for what you are part of. 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own business in the art/design world? 
Learn how to chase, find ways to get in front of people and ask questions.  Make the questions clever, make an impression. Just this alone can open up many different opportunities. Think outside of the box, tell your story, give people a reason to want to be a part of your plight. 

In an industry where art and design items are often sold privately for millions of pounds, where do you think ethical design fits in? 
I think it is not about the price tag, it is about thoughtfulness behind the object.  The story, the materials, the reason the designer felt compelled to create it.  These object d'art are part of our world and are relevant to those that collect.  Yet, the ethical side of it is just as relevant and the worthiness of where and how it was made should be a considered an important factor as to creating a higher worth. Wouldn't that be nice…

Authentic Venetian hand-blown glass is quite a rare find these days. What is it about glass that appealed to you as a medium to work with? 
My grandmother used to take me to Venice when I was a little girl, I was fascinated by the glass blowers and could watch them for hours.  The lineage behind the Murano glass is of another world that I want to support and sustain. It becomes quite difficult for these artisanal glass blowing factories to stay strong due to other ways of manufacturing and it is important that we keep them going! They have a quality you can not find anywhere else. It is in their blood from generations past.  There is something very sacred about this.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Philippa Long at Wolf & Badger

My friend and fellow Dalston dweller, Philippa Long held her A/W 2012 launch last Thursday at Wolf & Badger in Notting Hill.  Her new collection is rich yet delicate and, thanks in part to the weather finally perking up, the party was great fun, too.

Pip (pictured among her guests in one of her pieces, top image) is completely committed, like me, to British manufacture and ethical processes. She's passionate about using high quality fabrics and finishes to create beautiful timeless designs.  She was born and brought up in West Sussex and studied fashion at the University of Brighton. She launched her eponymous label this year.

I asked Pip to give me a few words on the new collection and this is what she had to say:
"This season I have drawn my inspiration from traditional African wax prints, sourced from my local market in East London, and influenced by the shapes, folds and fabric combinations I've seen being compiled by the West Indian market goers.  With the colourful scenes of the market stalls in mind, I've created this Autumn Winter collection.

To find out more about Philippa you can visit her website here or see her pieces for yourself at Wolf & Badger on Ledbury Road in Notting Hill.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

New crush: Celia B

I love it when I meet people randomly.  I complimented someone on their necklace the other day and that person turned out to be Celia, a lovely Spanish girl who makes accessories, bright dresses and hand-knitted & crocheted clothes and other pieces for her own label, Celia B.  I am now the proud owner of one of the aforementioned necklaces and if you know me, you will see me wearing it for the rest of the (rainy) summer. I absolutely love it. They're available to buy here.

Celia has gone from designing accessories for Zara to working in China for a knitwear company part-time and running her label the rest of the time.  She recently hosted her very own solo pop-up store in Shanghai, where she currently lives.  Everything she does is bright, sunny and fun. She is currently working on a website, launching here soon, but in the meantime you can keep up to date with her (and her creations) on her blog.
[All images by Celia B]

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Interview: 5 minutes with Amy Hall

Ella Catliff set up her blog La Petite Anglaise while she was interning in Paris, in order to record her exploits and thoughts on fashion in the capital.  Now that she's back in London she covers all the fashion weeks and blogs about anything in the industry that catches her eye.

She interviewed me a couple of weeks ago and you can read what I had to say here.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Summer sale - 30% off selected items

It's summer sale time.  We have selected items available with 30% off from our online store and Wolf & Badger on Ledbury Road in Notting Hill, while stock lasts.  Bargains include the Paris cardigan, down from £500 to £350 and the Seoul sweater (which was recently featured in the Times) down from £285 to £199.50.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Where it all began, part 11

Since starting this series of posts I've had all of my family, on both sides, looking out for knit-relevant photos from days of yore.

My aunt sent this one to me a few days ago (thank you, Kath!). It shows my uncle James, aged 8, skidding across a frozen pond in Bedford Park. He's sporting a rather nifty hand-knitted balaclava, which was apparently made lovingly for him by my great grandmother, Florence Violet (what a brilliant name).