Kitty Ferreira Is Truly A Sustainable Luxe Brand Inspired By Jamaican & Ghanian Roots
Did you ever think that luxury fashion could be synonomous with onion skins? Well we chatted with, Valerie Goode, the founder of an an elegant sustainable fashion brand using upcycled and hand dyed fabrics with pomegranate and onions skins. Kitty Ferreira is an award winning UK-based label that aims to dispel the ‘hippy’ connotations of ethical and sustainable fashion, by combining city chic with the natural world. Made in London, UK in sustainably sophisticated silhouettes. This Rastafarian uses her Jamaican heritage as way to stay grounded with the earth while creatively making gorgeous pieces!
CHECK OUT THIS INTERVIEW:
When and why did you start Kitty Ferreira? What inspired the name?
Kitty Ferreira UK was started 4 years ago after working in China as a senior womenswear designer, where I witnessed horrendous levels of air pollution caused by mass manufacturing. I came back to the UK vowing to never design fast fashion again, and looked to my family heritage as a source of inspiration- how they use the land, to feed, clothe and heal themselves, this natural respect that I admire. I therefore named my brand after my late grandmother from Trinidad.
How do you define sustainability?
You can be sustainable without being ethical but cannot be ethical without being sustainable, so ethical for me is the real backbone of sustainability. Sustainability pertains to the systems and process you use to do business and ethics is the framework, the ethos behind the processes you employ and so creating, say a new fabric, that involves circular design that at the end of life can be reused and repurposed with minimal damage to the environment, an ethically made fabric would also document who has made it and under what conditions.
How is your brand ethos environmentally and socially responsible?
We source most of our fabrics in the UK, some upcycled and some organic cruelty free silk. The only issue I have with upcycled fabrics ( though it is clearly a sustainable use of textiles), is that I cannot trace the origins, the ethics behind that textile. We also make in the UK- no sweatshop labour and we offer made to order on our products, reducing cabbage ( fabric waste). This latter point we're particularly pushing by encouraging customers to Extend the Lifecycle of Clothing by having garments repaired and altered and at the end of life, rather than buying new.
Does being a woman of color influence your brand? If so how?
Absolutely and in every way. Being also of Jamaican heritage, I look to the Rastafarian faith- a respect for the earth, people and veganism. The colours I employ as a designer are not always so readily available on the high street and though I was born into a capatalist western system, the values my brand is built on is very much born out of a respect for my cultural heritage. I am also Ashanti on my mother's side and so working on my latest collection, using authentic, artisanal Kente fabrics was a real joy. I have also created these silk hair bonnets out of hand dyed ( toxic free), cruelty-free silk- a product that any Afro- haired sister knows to be a staple part of their lifestyle.
Where do you see the future of sustainable fashion?
It's growing in awareness and popularity, from designers incorporating sustainability into their designs to consumers self educating about the negative impact of mainstream fashion on people and planet. As more people begin to vote with their $£( coin), the more these large retail giants will have to take note. Already we're seeing major design houses and fast fashion retailers removing un-ethical fabrics from their product mix such as fur, feathers and mass produced silk. The question is whether they'll be replaced with an increase in man made polyester fabrics that takes hundreds of years to bio-degrade? Either way we are moving forward positively.
What are the plans for the future?
We've just taken on a large meanwhile space to offer training and education on ethical and sustainable fashion production for disadvantaged youths in Lewisham, SE London; where we'll develop a large manufacturing and retail base. It's all very exciting and still very much in its early days, but watch this space!