Twin Talks: Azur – Luxury Sustainability from the South of France

07.01.2020 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

Images courtesy of Andreas Lumineau

Late last year graphic design & textile design duo Lisa Favreau and Lisa Guedel-Dolle launched their luxury sustainable brand from the coast of Marseille, France. Dubbed AZUR, the brand prides itself in the design and production of high quality fashionable clothing and accessories using processes and techniques which are ethically and environmentally compatible. Each piece is made from a mix of natural fibres, antique 20th century textiles and luxury materials sourced in France. Textiles and buttons are naturally dyed with with plants, labels are made in Italy from recycled plastic bottles & packaging is crafted from recycled & recyclable textiles. The scale of production is closely monitored to match demand and to ensure that each garment pockets its own unique story with fabrics that hold their own history. Twin sat down with the design duo, to find out some more about their process. 

What sparked the idea of launching a sustainable brand ?

During the past years we were less and less comfortable with the fact that what we were doing was often too far from our beliefs. We thought that we could use our creative skills and energy for a more positive purpose. Step by step the project started to take shape in our minds.

Long before turning into a clothing project, Azur was first and foremost a strong desire to change the way we were working and creating, to go towards more sustainable practices. At first we didn’t know if it was going to turn into objects, furniture or pieces of clothing. Making truly ethical and eco-conscious clothing ended up being the most challenging of them all. 

Why did you decide on naming the brand Azur ? 

Azur is the color that is often described as the color of the sky on a clear day.

We were deeply touched by the way Paul Virilio, a french philosopher, evokes nature and colours while talking about l’azur:

«L’azur c’est l’épaisseur optique de l’atmosphère, la grande lentille du globe terrestre, sa brillante rétine. De l’outremer à l’outre-ciel, l’horizon départage la transparence de l’opacité. De la matière-terre à l’espace-lumière, il n’y a qu’un pas, celui du bond ou de l’envol capables de nous affranchir un instant de la gravité.» 

Paul Virilio in La vitesse de la libération.

We also liked that Azur is a much-used word in south of France for any kind of brand or business. It gives the brand a déjà vu feeling while remaining quite mysterious and poetic. 

How long did it take to create an entire collection using completely sustainable techniques and materials? 

To avoid overproduction and enhance existing raw materials, we source high quality natural antique fabrics woven in France in early 20th century. Fabrics and buttons are naturally hand-dyed with dye plants by us in our studio, using no chemicals or heavy metal. Our 100% cotton thread and natural corozo buttons are made by the last French sewing thread mill and the last button manufacturer in France. Except our labels which are made in Italy from recycled plastic bottles, we avoid any plastic. The lining of our clothes is made of cotton without glue and our packaging is made in France with recycled and recyclable materials. Each piece is sewn in Marseille by our prototypist or a garment workshop run by a mother and daughter. Our silk pieces are hand-pleated in Marseille in an atelier running by two sisters and own by their family since 1937. Everything is made by us, craftsmen or small companies located as close as possible from Marseille.

Every step of the production process is meticulously watched out by the two of us, to be fundamentally respectful of the environment and others.

It took about a year to set up our sourcing and production processes : finding the best materials, the right partners and finally the proper way to combine them all. 

Once all these parameters settled, create an entire collection made in a sustainable way sure takes a longer time than in an ordinary way, but still allows to create a full collection, even in significant quantities. 

What was the most difficult part of the process ? 

Trying to be fundamentally respectful of the environment and people impact a lot our designs and the creative direction of our brand in general. The major part of our creative result is inherent to the artisanal process and the sustainable approach we have set up.

The sourcing of our raw materials is the biggest constraint and restricts many of our desires. We have to reverse the usual creative process. First we list what and how we can produce following our ethos, and then, we start the creative process. 

It was important to us to make clothes that you can keep for a long time and make compatible to every wardrobe. We create mainly unisex pieces, with simple cuts but unique details, which can fit most bodies. 

We are aware that not everything can be produced within our constraints, which can be frustrating sometimes, but which is also really challenging and exciting. 

Do you think the industry in general is on its way to becoming less wasteful?

People are now more aware and concerned about the environmental issues, and big brands have to follow this movement and adapt themselves to the new consumers expectations. Most of the time it’s unfortunately more about their image rather than real commitments.

On an other hand, many independents and emerging fashion brands are really active and aware when it comes to sustainability, and are opening a new path. Through Azur we hope to show in some way that you can make truly eco-conscious and ethical clothes that can also be luxurious.  

No one has the perfect formula, and both makers and designers should work together to build fairer and cleaner making processes.

How many collections can we expect a year from Azur?

We don’t follow the exact same calendar as the fashion industry. We will launch 2 collections per year, and the rest of the time will be punctuated by few drops, according to our desires and fabrics we find.

Where can one buy the products? 

You can buy the collection online on our website at azur.world

In February we will move into an atelier-boutique where you will be able to see and try the collection and unique pieces that will not be available online. The address is 19 rue du Chevalier Roze, 13002 Marseille, France. We’re currently working on supplying to shops internationally for our next few collection. 

Keep up with the brand via instagram on @AzurWorld 

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Disrupting patterns with Filippa K

25.11.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

As the ultimate antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday consumption, over the weekend Filippa K presented the results of their two year sustainable research project ‘Circular Design Speeds’, in collaboration with Mistra Future fashion, at an exhibition at UAL.

2018 has been the year that fashion finally woke up to its responsibilities. And as fast fashion, and the waste produced by the fashion industry more widely, have come under increasing scrutiny, Swedish brand Filippa K has worked to find a solution.

The results of the project are not only exciting from an environmental perspective, but also in terms of style. Both the 100% recycled and recyclable coat and the  biodegradable dress maintain Filippa K’s classic, timeless aesthetic and high quality, while taking the conversation forward. 

Crucially this new research comes from a major fashion brand rather than an experimental and emerging designer. The learnings and results show that when companies choose to put their resources into sustainable innovation, the results can be truly impactful and redirect the standardised path. 

These first creations, as well as the research process, were shown at the ‘Disrupting  Patterns’ exhibition at the University of Arts in London, alongside a series of talks and lectures aimed at sharing the findings of their projects with the larger fashion community.

In order to transform the linear (thinking) production cycle into a circular system we need understandable and simple examples, role models. Upcycling waste into beautifully naturally dyed dresses is just one of many fruitful ways of doing it – hopefully it will plant a seed to transformation,” explained Marie-Louise Hellgren, Designer at Heart & Earth Production at Filippa K.

As the fashion industry is forced to address the mounting crisis that its practice is contributing to, championing brands that embrace cyclical production is no longer a nicety, but a necessity. 

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Bethany Williams AW18

07.01.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

A pioneer of sustainable fashion, Bethany Williams puts a social conscience at the heart of her work; the last collection ‘Breadline’, worked alongside the Vauxhall food bank and Tesco to highlight the poverty crisis hidden in plain sight in the UK. Here the collection was developed around food waste, and Tesco recycled cardboard. The results were not only socially aware and environmentally friendly, but also innovative, avant-garde and sculptural – a hybrid of responsible and covetable which is glaring absent for the most part in the British fashion industry.

Her latest collection ‘Women of Change’ put women’s rehabilitation at the heart of her collection. The designer worked with female prisoners and the San Patrignano drug dependancy program, subverting the gender narrative to bring men into fore of the solution through her designs. Each piece was created from 100% organic or recycled, even down to the buttons which are handmade in the Lake District by Jean Wildish, who plants her own trees for the production of wooden buttons, and handmade in the UK and Italy.

The collection was shown at London Fashion Week Mens through a film, directed by Crack Stevens, along with a live presentation with models from TIH – a new modelling agency that supports young Londoners affected by homelessness.

One of the most exciting designers on the London menswear scene, Bethany Williams is offering a vision for the future which fashion desperately needs. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

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