Sweltering California weather - check. A-Game required regardless - check. Style-led, wearable and breathable fashion - check. For a day of home-based meetings in Los Angeles this elegant embroidered 'Louise' dress by RIXO - complete with cape-sleeves and oriental hand-embroidered floral detail - was perfect.
RIXO was founded by London College of Fashion alumni (and best friends) Henrietta Rix and Orlagh McCloskey. The two friends found their symbiosis in 2015, and have since been focused on vintage-inspired distinctly British womenswear. What to expect? Think contemporary pieces with signature details, including intricate hand painted original prints and devil-is-in-the-detail trim. Think anti-mass production and pro-timeless design. Working with a minimal waste approach when it comes to fabrics, using excess materials for sample creation is one of the ways the pair avoids cutting into new resource just for the sake of it. Pulling from a throwback vintage feel and a current contemporary vibe, the designers work closely with their skilled English factories (North London to be exact) and oversee the construction process, citing a personal and trust-based relationship as one of the most crucial links in a transparent and caring design process.
"All RIXO garments are designed so that they can be worn in a variety of ways for a variety of occasions without compromising style," states Henrietta Rix, "This is more beneficial and cost effective for the customer requiring them to buy less and extending the product's lifecycle with seasonless pieces they LOVE!"
This beautiful dress retails at £295 and can be found at Wolf & Badger - the UK's leading retail boutique for showcasing the world's best independent brands (online and in stores across London), all of whom are known to have a strong design aesthetic.
Shopping through independent boutiques is one of the many ways that I personally try to shop sustainably. How? Well, more often than not these boutiques tend to stock independent brands making quality-focused collections, using handmade techniques, offering limited runs. More often than not these designers can tell an enquiring customer how their clothing was made, where and under what conditions. For anyone keen to find designers creating clothing this way, Wolf and Badger is a good place to start. According to Creative Director Henry Graham, design-led quality fashion and strong values need not be mutually exclusive. Home to brands such as sustainable bag brand Le Suri (PETA vegan approved materials), and No 13, an ethical luxury jewellery brand, creating stunning handmade pieces from recycled silver in collaboration with aboriginal Sami artisans (residing near the Arctic Circle) and donating a percentage of the profits to conversation group, the National Wildlife Federation. Wolf and Badger's conscious brands extend to other categories, including beauty. "All of our beauty products are made from natural ingredients and are free from chemicals, many are entirely organic," states Graham. "We don't sell exotic skins and only sell fur if it is a by product of the meat industry."
Exotic skins, like python, alligator and crocodile have been utilised in the fashion industry - particularly the luxury sector - for many years and whilst owning only a small percentage of the market (3-4%), some skins, particularly python, have historically raised concerns around black market illegal trades, wildlife conservation and sustainability in addition to animal welfare concerns. This spotlight is said to have trigged the recent move by luxury group KERING to join forces with the International Trade Center (ITC) and the Boa and Python Specialist Group of IUCN to form the Python Conservation Partnership with a focus on researching and providing recommendations around improving sustainability, transparency, animal welfare and local livelihoods for the python skin trade. Whilst for some this is promising news, for others, the best outcome would be a move entirely away for exotic skins altogether, which makes Wolf and Badger's stance not only refreshing but also industry-leading.