PURE London is the UK’s biggest fashion buying event. Held in Earls Court Two and Olympia in west London on the 7th, 8th and 9th of August, this year’s Pure London showcased a vast variety of womenswear, footwear and accessories brands. Companies and buyers alike travelled for miles, even crossing borders and sometimes continents to attend this 3 day event. Africa Fashion Guide went to check out the turn out and especially the African companies attending, including LaLesso, Chichia and Johari.
This year the event was split across two venues with Earls Court Two housing the new ‘Spirit Young Fashion’ and Olympia the womenswear, footwear and accessories. In the Spirit building and new to the show was Johari, a social enterprise based in Nairobi and Edinburgh. They exhibited a new exciting, ultra feminine and elegant womenswear collection designed by Julia Smith, featuring full circle skirts, ruffles and high waists in clean block colours and with print detailing. As well as this, a jewellery range and new children’s range, aptly named ‘Seedlings’, all of which are produced in a small workshop of 16 women in Nairobi. As Johari is relatively small and a social enterprise, getting a stand at a show this big was a considerable financial risk for them, however the stand looked great and attracted a lot of attention, particularly for its ethics and social goals. We really hope it paid off for them and will lead to the Johari collection being available in many more boutiques throughout the UK, not just because of the beautiful designs but also so that the project in Kenya can grow to benefit as many people as possible.
Another Kenyan company showing in the Olympia arena was LaLesso. Returning to Pure this year with a gorgeous new, higher end collection of luxurious silk and viscose pieces in a very on trend S/S12 colour palette of neutrals and fluorescents (as shown in sneak peak pictures in earlier blog) showing subtle 80s influences. And also showcasing their new jewellery collection by renowned Irish jewellery designer Jennifer Kinear.
As winner of the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Innovation Pure Award Chichia got a place on the EFF stand in the Olympia building and a special mention as part of the ‘Spotlight on Ethical Fashion’ talk given by Tamsin Lejeune, managing director of EFF, and Alex Smith, fashion consultant, on the Spirit stage. An exciting and new opportunity for Chichia, especially to showcase the newest collection that was finished only days before the show (see blog on new Chichia collection).
In the Accessories section, Kazuri Beads stood out with their beautiful and distinctive hand painted ceramic beads. The beads which are made into gorgeous striking necklaces, bracelets and earrings are made in Nairobi by a group of around 300 local artisans. Kazuri’s founding aim was to reduce unemployment in an area outside of Nairobi known as Karen., and the company s a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), an organisation which represents Fair Traders and whose mission is to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through Fair Trade principles.
In Footwear two companies particularly stood out for me. First DuSud, the footwear collection of highly renowned South African fashion designer Errol Arrendz. This was their first year at Pure and their first move to bring the DuSud shoe collection to the European market, and we wish them all the best. The collection includes fiery and bright colours and big impact shapes, I especially loved the wooden wedge platforms – check them out here.
The second footwear company that caught my eye was Laidback London who were exhibiting their collection of unique, high quality leather sandals and accessories produced in Kenya. The company was formed in 2002 as a small project working with Kenyan artisans, training them in new skills and providing them with fair wages. By securing a sustainable market, Laidback London hope to help break the cycle of poverty and empower the people that create their products. The sandals are made using locally sourced leathers which are dyed and cut by hand giving each pair a truly authentic, handmade feel.
The interesting thing about the African fashion what was spotted at Pure London is their connection to sustainability. This highlights the strong relationship of African fashion and textiles to ethical fashion. This seems to be one way of creating awareness and above all sustainable business. So the presence of the Ethical Fashion Forum at Pure sat well alongside these brands.
Overall Pure never fails to impress and to give a full overview of the marketplace. We will continue to bring you updates and reports of fashion tradeshows and list the African and Ethical brands there to highlight the relevance of these brands there AND to show the growth of these area in the global fashion and textiles industry.