If you haven't heard of Katharine E Hamnett
before, she is definitely worth looking up. Another Gravitypope Tailored Goods first for this season, Hamnett herself best explains the influence she's had on the fashion industry and the ethical and sustainable motivations that drive her work. (Article taken from http://www.katharinehamnett.com/
.)EIGHTIES FASHION ICON AND ETHICAL CLOTHING INNOVATOR
What was happening in the eighties fashion world?
My clothes became unbelievably successful - beyond my wildest dreams. Menswear, womenswear, jeans, watches and of course, my slogan t-shirts.
Sarah Mower said I was the most copied designer in the world - to the point where I had to consider designing something I would be happy to see copied.
What eighties fashion did you introduce?
I made protest slogan t-shirts a fashion, social and political staple.
I also invented distressed denim, stonewash denim, stretch denim, parachute silk, garment dyeing, the crumpled look, military inspired sportswear, power dressing, leggings, lycra, jump suits, retro revivals and ethical and environmental clothing.
You were a massive influence. Tell us more.
I art directed killer ad campaigns. I discovered photographers such as Ellen von Unwerth, Jurgen Teller and Terry Richardson.
My eighties fashion campaigns were the first for Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, Nadia Auermaan and others.
What drove the need for change?
By 1989 I was bored with success. Something was missing.
Buddhist philosophy talks about the need for 'right' livelihood (making a living without hurting anyone or anything). I thought I wasn't hurting anyone by making clothes but when I did the research I realised I was wrong.
I discovered the fashion industry was responsible for a living environmental nightmare. (See 'Clean Up Or Die Essay') Millions of people in the garment sector were working in conditions of slavery.
I was horrified and felt a moral imperative to do something.
What did you do about this environmental catastrophe?
From 1989 to 2003 I tried to change the industry from within. Forget it.
From 2003 to 2007 I realised consumers care even if industries and politicians don't. Industries must sell but consumers don't have to buy. I decided to raise consumer awareness of issues in the clothing industry.
On return from a 2003 Oxfam visit to Mali, having seen firsthand the devastating human suffering amongst conventional cotton farmers, I knew the solution was organic cotton.
I decided to drive demand for organic cotton clothing and help conventional cotton farmers' trade their way out of poverty.
What does this mean to the person on the street?
My re-launched Katharine E Hamnett menswear and womenswear includes re-issued eighties fashion slogan t-shirts made with organic cotton to the highest ethical and environmental standards in the world. Available from our webstore and selected retailers worldwide.
I have also signed a deal to do ethical and environmental clothing with Tesco because they agreed to sign contracts with the farmers.
Is it working?
It's amazing, and the slogan t-shirts are being worn all over the place: KT Tunstall Live Earth, Bloc Party Live Earth, Lily Cole London Fashion Week, Peaches Geldof and Dirty Pretty Things are all wearing them.
There's an increasing trend for consumer driven ethical and environmental purchasing.
People are realising that how we consume decides the future of the planet and they're doing something about it.
Stay tuned for pictures of the slogan tees that have arrived!