A creative fashion revolution
Orsola de Castro, co-founder and Creative Director of Fashion Revolution and Visiting Fellow at UAL Central St Martin’s, talks about creativity as a force for change in an industry that has enormous social and environmental impact on the world’s resources.
Decades before Vogue Australia hired its first sustainable fashion Editor and Elle dedicated an entire issue to sustainability, de Castro was at the cutting edge of sustainable practice. A pioneering designer, de Castro applied her creative skills to give textiles deemed waste a new lease of life. Through innovative design techniques, she took industry offcuts from the fine textile mills of Europe which would otherwise end up in landfill and redesigned them for the luxury fashion market.
Then, in 1997 alongside her partner and husband Filippo Ricci, she launched her groundbreaking label From Somewhere, and in its 20-year lifespan enjoyed collaborations with international brands Speedo, Topshop and Robe di Kappa. It was the first label to address the fashion industry’s rubbish by reclaiming and up-cycling as a design solution to an environmental problem.
In 2006, de Castro was invited to curate the British Fashion Council’s Estethica, a platform for Britain’s pioneering designers who consciously put sustainable materials and transparent supply chains at the heart of their product designs. Through Estethica, de Castro and social entrepreneur Carrie Sommers met and struck a partnership in the face of the Rana Plaza disaster. It was one of the largest industrial accidents Bangladesh had ever seen – a nine storey building collapsed taking with it 1,134 garment workers.
“Carrie called me up one day and said do you want to start a fashion revolution?” recalls de Castro “Of course I said yes”. The global awareness campaign #whomadeyourclothes was born.
“Creativity is at the heart of everything I do,” says de Castro and she sees no distinction between applying the skill to designing, campaigning and mentoring the next generation of designers.