Posted on February 16, 2015
Hatched from the mind of Rebecca Dracup and designed by the hands of Angela Parker, Rana offers a range of ethically made office wear (although I reckon that skirt pictured would be pretty amazing on any day really!).
When Rebecca graduated from uni and started working as a sustainability engineer, she did what we all do and went out in search of a new office-worthy wardrobe. What she found was a hole in the market, a lack of shops and designers selling workwear which was openly ethically and/or sustainably produced. Not to be deterred, she began contacting companies to see if she could at least find out if they could provide her with information regarding the source of their clothing but was met with unclear answers or, in some cases, unreassuring silence. And when most of us would probably throw our hands up in the air and give up, Rebecca decided that this was just not good enough – and she dreamed up her own company.
Enter fashion graduate, Angie, the designer with the know-how and eye to create the fashionable yet socially-conscious clothing range. They met up for the first time less than a year ago and made Rana Clothing come to life.
Rana takes its name from the Rana Plaza, a building in Bangladesh that housed thousands of garment workers that make clothing for what is termed the “fast fashion” industry, that is, where most of our clothing comes from at present. This poorly maintained complex collapsed in 2013, killing more than a thousand workers and injuring thousands more. Spurred on by this image and as a reminder of the unjustly poor conditions many individuals work under, Angie travelled to Sri Lanka in search of fabrics and suitable makers.
After many weeks of exploring, questioning and site-visiting, Angie found a number of local craftspeople who welcomed Rana Clothing’s support and fit the mould in terms of transparency and providing gainful employment to workers in a safe and comfortable environment. Excitingly, Rana’s first collection will showcase garments made from locally made handloom materials (a traditional artisan technique!) by a small garment company just out of Colombo, Maya Dress Designers.
Think this is an admirable achievement? Angie and Rebecca have also connected with a number of local Sri Lankan designers whose clothing they will sell alongside Rana’s collections, one of whom creatively uses the excess fabric from larger companies’ projects that would normally go completely to waste. Also, next in the pipeline is sourcing organically farmed cotton which may see Angie travelling to India to get to the heart of its production. If this is the way things are going, I’m so excited to see what is in store and will wholeheartedly get behind these guys.
Rana Clothing have just launched their crowdfunding campaign here. Environmentally and socially conscious shopping? Designers that care and know who make their garments? This is where we’re heading people, let’s make it the requisite and the everyday, not the exception.
Photos courtesy of Rana Clothing by Daniel Hunt
Special shout out to Juanita’s Wine & Tapas Bar for providing such a lovely backdrop for the models
Posted on February 13, 2015
It’s no secret – I love clothes. So much so that at one stage of my life it wasn’t uncommon to be asked point blank, “So how much time do you spend shopping?” (Honestly, not that much, I’m a targeted shopper, I know what I wants and I gots to have it!). But certainly over the last two years, my views towards the all-hallowed, all-hated, and much-debated word fashion (or fashuuuurn if you must) has changed, back-tracked and evolved.
What things have changed the most? I’ve come to realise that more and more a few key principles are informing my choices, almost subconsciously, emerging from life experiences, travels and integral encounters with amazingly selfless and foresighted people. Travelling through Burma and wandering through a number of textile stores and factories got me asking questions and cemented my views even more.
In essence, less is more. And simplicity is king.
And why? Well, not only does this reflect a maturing sense of style which flits around less and less with the tides of trend and seasonality, but more importantly a desire to live more responsibly and knowledgeably, being aware of where my clothes come from to where they will end up.
This isn’t always easy. I mean, there are so many righteous pillars to uphold. Buying local vs abroad. Supporting the artisan over the multimillion dollar megacompany. Is the cotton organically farmed? Is the way in which the natural fibres of my favourite chambray shirt sustainably farmed? Is the clothing made by children or underpaid individuals? And while we’re at it, let’s talk about ethics and fair trade?
There is much smoke and many mirrors that confuse and hardly help us make our decisions. Companies and labels can easily masquerade as seemingly smaller ones and portray an image of “organic-ness” and wholesomeness, but may not always display transparency in the sourcing of materials or making of their products. And, let’s just be honest, sometimes you just need something and you need it quick, like it’s a lot easier to buy a flat-packed coffee table from Ikea than bang one out of upcycled wood in your own backyard, isn’t it?
So, one of my personal endeavours this year is to scout out local companies that think beyond their money-making capabilities and actively make the principles of fair trade a core part of their business ethic, partly because it’s sometimes really hard to ask all those questions yourself when searching for that new shirt for work, but mostly because their example should lead the way for all businesses out there. Fair trade should be a requirement and the norm, so let’s get behind and support the companies that uphold it.
These photos capture traditional handloom weavers at work in a small workshop on Inle Lake, Burma. They use cotton, silk and even lotus root fibres, which is itself a waning craft as it is highly labour intensive.