A colourful fashion blog supporting independents & sustainable fashion in Bristol and beyond since 2011

Friday, 24 April 2020

Fruit Salad - Starting a slow fashion brand

Fruit Salad officially launched in January this year.

This independent Bristol based streetwear brand oozes cuteness and street style vibes with an aim to support slow fashion.

It's super close to No Debutante's heart and it would be, as it's my fashion brand and I'm super proud of it!

The seeds for the now ripe and blooming Fruit Salad were first sown back in 2017, after I had spent a year as a fashion journalist.

Pastel Perfection with Fruit Salad photography(and main image)by Jolanta Valeniece 

Meeting so many inspiring independent designers from Bristol and beyond,  I really wanted to get back to my designer roots (I had previously worked as a designer for high street brands - I know the irony - and for my own fashion label) and I got the bug to start creating again!

The back story is a whole different blog post but I would like to say, the pressure to keep my new fashion baby as sustainable as possible has nearly broken me on several occasions, battling creativity over sustainability has been hard but I like a challenge!

After attending The Festival of Female Entrepreneurs event here in Bristol last autumn I was encouraged to continue on with my creative business idea, whilst holding myself accountable by being as transparent as possible on my fashion journey.

I felt released and inspired to launch my business and four months later I launched the Fruit Salad website on Big Cartel (who, I can honestly say, are the most helpful online platform that I have ever worked with) which is now linked to an Instagram shop (not quite so helpful on the admin front) and have a capsule fashion range of T-shirts, fleeces and beanies, all produced on very small runs.

Super fresh in Fruit Salad pink beanie and t-shirt

What's in a name?

Fruit Salad is fun, colourful, sassy and super cute. The name came from my husband Phil who said my hair looked like Fruit Salad sweets when the pink colour was washing out of my bleached blonde crop, the name stuck and it's super sweet and playful too!

Candy coloured cuteness at Fruit Salad photography by Jolanta Valeniece

The Graphics

The graphics came from pavement chalk drawings I had created with my daughter, I was looking for print ideas and these weird, sea creatures I had randomly drawn caught my imagination.

The Fruit Salad logo came from a hand drawn idea of how I wanted the Fruit Salad logo to look, with the intention to recreate it digitally using an existing font, instead, I kept things DIY and went with the quick sketch. I really like hand drawn graphic art and fanzines and it fitted with the playful Fruit Salad style that was slowly developing.

The prints were all initially created using stencil printing techniques at home and then neatened up for print production.

Time, as you probably know, is not on my side and since I have met so many independent designers who have help manufacturing their brands AND lucky for me, there are some amazing local tailors, makers and independent printers here in Bristol.

With this in mind, I decided I would be beneficial to get some help to put my ideas into production. I had always felt this was a bit of a cop out, probably comparing myself to others rather than just getting on with it BUT I got over myself and got in touch with some Bristol based indies.

Keeping things as local as possible is a first priority to me.

The last day of summer Fruit Salad photo shoot by Jolanta Valeniece

The T-shirts

First stop was Hidden Temple, a local screen printers who I had originally met at The Fashion Front fashion shows here in Bristol. As well as being super friendly and helpful they also take small print orders. This was a must for me as I only wanted to print up an initial small run of t-shirts to reduce possible waste from over-producing.

The Fruit Salad t-shirts are currently made from super soft organic cottons. Always striving to become more sustainable, we are researching possibilities of using recycled fabrics (ideally produced locally) and alternative sustainable ideas for future runs, which is very exciting!

Another priority for the Fruit Salad prints was to use water based inks (not plastic based) on our t-shirts. Using the water based inks we were able to create a light effect in the graphics (that was true to my original samples), which Hidden Temple screen print individually by hand and it's much better for the environment too!

Super cute and cuddly limited edition Fruit Salad fleeces are now available at our online shop

The Fleeces

The fleeces took a year to launch from initial fashion illustration to final product - now that's slow fashion!

As with my prints, I design my own garms and make my patterns and samples. I collaborated with the super talented team from Jokoto Tailoring to adapt my samples; with their amazing ideas and super sewing skills Jokoto helped create my vision. Working with local businesses has been so rewarding and kinda convenient, as they are just up the road!

The sad thing about the super sweet fleeces is that we didn't get to capture them on our amazing models before the lockdown. It's certainly on the to do list when we are all let out to play again! 

Matching my collection in pastel pinks

Reducing waste

As well as working on very small runs, I also use up as much of the fabric scraps leftover from the larger cut pattern pieces to use on the fleeces cuffs, neck and waistbands.

Using this technique has resulted in there being no more than two fleeces the same, I love to experiment and mixing up different colourways using just one pattern, it's a way to create new style variations without using extra fabric.

Going forward, I hope to use as many upcycled fabrics and/or panels as possible in the next collection and look into incorporating this idea into the beanies design too.

Fresh embroideries by The Live Ink Co - right photo courtesy of The Live Ink Co. 

The beanies and embroideries

The final part of production for the fleeces was to add the Fruit Salad logo embroidery.

The Live Ink Co were recommended to me by Sam Witts from Hidden Temple and are also based in Bristol!

I really wanted to add a beanie to the collection that fitted in with the current Fruit Salad colours of pastel pink & lilacs, purple and sapphire blue. Live Ink Co kitted us out and the amazing embroideries, of both the logo on the fleeces and the Octo graphic on the beanies were so slick.

All of these independent businesses run from small shop outlets in Bristol, its impressive what and who you can find to help just on your doorstep! Support independent, support local!

I am so excited to share my lil' slow fashion baby with you but realise I have along way to go to become more sustainable. The fun will be figuring out how I can do this and learning more from the following sustainable & ethical fashion activists.

The lovely Eloise and Hannah from Jokoto Tailoring with the fleeces they made for Fruit Salad clothing
They made your clothes! 

Fashion Revolution 

In the light of Fashion Revolution Week  (20-26 April), I am sharing #whomademyclothes

in remembrance of the shocking Rana Plaza disaster that killed 1134 fashion workers in Bangladesh in 2013.

Fashion Revolution Week encourages the fashion industry no matter how big or small the business to show transparency in their supply chain with their  #whomademyclothes campaign. Read this digital activism guide to find out how you too can get involved in Fashion Rev week and beyond.

Labour Behind the label

Founders of the #sixitemschallenge Label Behind the label have launched a new campaign this week encouraging all brands to be responsible for every single person from their supply chain, not just their direct employees, focusing on those who are shockingly still working, often in terrible conditions, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Labour Behind the Label need your help to make this change. Please sign their petition and join them in supporting garment workers. The big brands must put their workers before their profits!

Sustainable Fashion week

I have to mention this inspiring event that was supposed to be taking place right now in Bristol before covid-19 put a stop to everything. I was looking forward to attending and speaking at the very first event which will now take place in Bristol this Autumn. Find out more in my Bristol24/7 article Sustainable fashion week slows down fast fashion

Covid-19 may have put a stop to many things but it cannot put a stop to all of us supporting sustainable and slow fashion ethics.

Support independent, support local, support slow fashion, support garment workers. Stay safe and stay sustainable!

Super fresh Fruit Salad threads now available on the Fruit Salad online shop

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

How to complete Labour Behind the Labels - Six items Challenge

As you are probably aware the Labour Behind the Label #sixitemschallenge is now over! I successfully completed it and I am really proud of myself! 

It is with mixed emotions that I write this blog post today. We are going to cover a fair few points from supporting slow fashion, fashion challenge tips, styling ideas, supporting garment workers and saving the planet, so strap in!  

Am I glad the Six Items Challenge is over? Well, kind of..

To my surprise I wasn't completely desperate to ditch my six chosen items that I'd been wearing for the past six weeks. They had become part of my routine, my style, I knew where I was with them, like old friends! I actually miss wearing them every day! 

Although, I had been looking forward to rediscovering my existing (and rather overflowing) wardrobe,  I suddenly became overwhelmed by the amount of choice. What the hell was I going to wear when the challenge ended? How can I possibly choose? Surely, it will have to be a showstopper outfit after all this time? Oooohhh, the pressure! 

When the time came, we were in lockdown and the weather was hot, so a simple shorts and t-shirt combo was chosen! Just wearing something other than the usual six items was kinda liberating and being able to show off some skin was a bonus; since all of my six items consisted of long sleeve tops and trousers and had been covering me up all warm and cosy for six weeks! 

The post challenge outfit a Fruit Salad t-shirt & denim shorts

Over the past few weeks I have started to appreciate what I already have, by taking time and really thinking about how I can update, re-discover and restyle my lovely clothes, and I'll be honest, there is a mountain to get through, it's a new fashion challenge in itself! As luck would have it (let's keep things positive here), I've gotta a little bit of extra time on my hands....

I am already a big supporter of slow and sustainable fashion but I have still learnt a few things since starting the challenge. Here are the most important things that I have discovered since taking part.

  • A capsule wardrobe helps to minimises stress and time spent choosing what to wear each day
  • Hang up and air your clothes to keep out creases and minimise washing
  •  Re-discover, rethink & restyle your existing wardrobe
  • Appreciate what you already have
  • Try to make and mend where possible
  • Consider who made your clothes and under what circumstances
  • Dress for yourself, no-one else! 

The Six Items Challenge has taught me that you really can style up each and every garment you own in so many different ways. Have fun with it, try out different outfit combos and wear your clothes in new ways.

You don't have to be part of the challenge to get involved....

There are infinite layering combos to try,  a simple tuck in or roll up can update your look in seconds, minimal accessories to maximum decor always add a unique spin and why not try upcycling to recreate new looks using your existing wardrobe? Don't be scared to experiment! 

The last few days of the Six Items Challenge featuring all six garments
 inc long sleeve t-shirt, dungarees, hoodie, trousers, bomber jacket and jumpsuit. 

A challenge within a challenge

It has been a challenge in itself dealing with the life changing pandemic we are all dealing with right now, alongside carrying out the Six Items Challenge. 

It's certainly put things into perspective about what really matters. You may think that this fashion challenge itself is not so important but what it stands for is so important - to support garment workers whilst slowing down on your fashion consumption!

Even more so now that we hear news that fashion giants are still putting extra pressure on Asian garment factories. 

With most factories in lockdown there are reports of fashion corporates, from both the UK & US, cutting off their workforce (rather than offering a living wage to workers on lockdown from coronavirus), cancelling orders (including work already in progress) at the cost of the manufacturers and on top of this demanding discounts (on the already ridiculously low-paid industry) on deliveries and products! Read more in this article by the BBC

The Six Items Challenge isn't about turning your back on fashion, it aims to show us how we can cope with fewer items of clothing and make use of our existing wardrobes; whilst raising awareness and money for the workers that are suffering under awful conditions like these.

Fast fashion can only exist if the garment workers are paid a low wage. If the fast fashion giants reduced the amount of garments that they produced and raised the quality of their garments, they could charge a little more for their products and pay their garment workers fairly. 

Slowing production would also create less demand and pressure on the workers, the quality of the products would go up and garments would last longer. This would reduce the amount we need to consume, plus, you cant buy into something that doesn't exist - Goodbye daily fast fashion drops!

This would also put an end to the shocking amount of waste created from the ridiculous 'wear once' fast fashion situation we currently find ourselves in. We need to create a circular economy that benefits us all and we need to do it now! 

Step away from your shopping apps and slow down with your fashion consumption! 

I feel like a broken record on this one but ask yourself before you buy anything new - Do I need it? How many tops, jeans, pairs of shoes do I already own? Why am I buying it? Chances are you already got it right there in your wardrobe! Slowing down on your fashion consumption will also save you money, reduce fashion waste and save the planet! 

You should also consider who made each fashion item and why it is so cheap? You can bet if it is super cheap it didn't get where it is sustainably or ethically! 

Should you try out the six items challenge?

It's a big fat yes from me! 

Perhaps, it is only for the hardcore and dedicated to do the whole six weeks, it's certainly a shock to the system and this is coming from an already converted sustainable, slow fashion supporter.  Here are a few ways you can join in with the idea behind the challenge and how you can support it. 

  • Select six items of clothing and see how many outfits you can create 
  • Set yourself a challenge, how long can you last wearing just six items? A week, a month?
  • Not that interested in fashion? Why not donate or share the love to raise awareness for Labour Behind the Label and slow fashion articles
  • Hang up your clothes after each wear to reduce the amount that you wash them
  • Learn to make and mend before you buy new

These are simple ways to start your slow fashion journey. Give them a go and please tag @nodebutante or get in touch if you do. I am always here to help advise you at every step! 

Here a few extra points that I always share, make them your fashion mantra! 

  • Only buy new clothes when you need to
  •  Consider pre-loved, vintage, upcycled, sustainably and independently made. 
  • Stop buying into fast fashion 
  • Stop following trends
  • Love your clothes

Thanks to everyone for your support throughout the Six Items Challenge and thanks to Labour Behind the Label for opening my eyes a little further into supporting slow fashion. You can always learn and do more! 

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