Equa Blog - News, Views and Ethical Styling...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Fabric of the Week- Lyocell

Lyocell is a man-made fiber of natural origin. It is considered natural because it’s made from the cellulose in wood pulp which is harvested from sustainably farmed trees, such as beech and eucalyptus. The pulp is dissolved and spun into a fiber which can then be dyed and blended with other fibers such as cotton, silk, linen and wool.
Eucalyptus Tree
The spinning process has minimal impact on the environment and virtually all the chemicals used in the production process are recycled, leaving minimal by-product. The resulting fiber is both biodegradable and recyclable, making Lyocell a relatively eco-friendly fabric.
Beech Tree
Lyocell is also known under the brand names Tencel or Modal.


As it is a man-made fibre the diameter and length of the fibres can be varied which allow it to mimic other fabrics. The fibres can be very fine and long producing fabric that resembles silk, it can also be made with a cotton like feel to the fabric.

Lyocell is a very versatile fabric, it dyes easily, is resistant to wrinkling and is very durable. It is also soft and drapes well making it perfect for those wardrobe staple, jersey dresses...

..such as the Rianne De Witte Flora Dress. This dress drapes beautifully and has a silky sheen to it.

More Lyocell items from Equa:
Rhianne De Witte Starfish Dress

Monday, 26 July 2010

Holiday Wardrobe

How many times have you arrived home after a holiday and realised that half of what you lugged around in your suitcase never got worn?  To avoid over packing or arriving at your destination and finding nothing you’ve packed goes together requires some self regulation. Here’s Equa’s guide to making your holiday wardrobe work for you:

To start, identify key pieces that can be worn different ways for multiple occasions and build your holiday wardrobe around them. For example a dress that works as a beach cover up could, with a fabulous pair of earrings and a change of shoes, see you to the bar in the evening. Select lightweight accessories such as scarves, belts and jewellery will help you to give your key items different looks.
Next concentrate on separates you can mix and match to create multiple outfits. Lay your packing out and make sure that every pair of bottoms goes with a top from at least two other outfits. This will ensure you have variety without adding extra weight to your bag. Tip: It helps if you choose colours that complement each other.

Choose pieces that are comfortable as well as stylish. A jersey dress will come out of your suitcase looking fresh. Who wants to do ironing whilst they are on holiday!

This organic cotton jersey Hanni Dress by Jackpot is a gorgeous colour that will look fantastic when your skin has a summer glow.

Make sure you have a pair of comfortable flats. There is nothing worse than a day out in shoes that pinch or rub. And break them in before you go away!

The Sole Pumps by Beyond Skin have flexible soles made from natural latex and soft padded insoles for extra comfort.
If you will be baring skin prepare before you go with Whish Sugar Scrub. It’s free from chemical nasties such as parabens and sulphates. Organic brown sugar rasberry seed and bamboo powder exfoliate dull skin. Organic shea butter and organic aloe moisturise,  organic avocado oil and vitamin E will renew your skin. Plus it smells good enough to eat!

Pack your cosmetic goodies in a Saffron Winds Wash Bag. They are made from recycled food sacks by fair trade organisations in Cambodia.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Fabric of the Week- Linen

True linen is a fabric made from the stem of the flax plant...who would have known that flax was such a beautiful plant!

Flax fibre is not only used to make linen but also paper and rope. The seeds of the flax plant are also used to make linseed oil which is reputed to have many health benefits

The fibres from the flax plant being woven into a fabric dates back to the ancient Egyptians. It was considered a noble fabric, and was a luxury worn by the Pharaohs. In the mummification process approximately 375 meters of hand woven linen bandages were used per body.

Linen is quite an expensive material to produce because flax fibres are quite brittle and have a tendency to break, consequently the process of separating the fibre from the woody stem has to be done by hand.


Linen has a very distinctive quality and texture. It is known for feeling cool to the touch as well as being highly absorbent, naturally removing perspiration. Linen is quite a stiff fabric, which means it does not cling to the skin and has a billowy effect, however it does soften the more it is washed.

Linen fibres do not have much elasticity, explaining why it wrinkles so easily. Nevertheless the tendency to wrinkle is often considered part of the fabric's "charm", and a lot of modern linen garments are designed to be air dried and worn without the need for ironing.

Linen is a very elegant textile and has a distinct Riviera feel to it....

These Jackpot Alba Organic Linen Trousers are perfect and airy for those balmy summer evenings.

The Jackpot Perla Linen Dress, seen here in dark pink rose, also has that distinctive linen texture that sits loosely on the body without clinging.

More Linen items from Equa:

Monday, 19 July 2010

Designer Interview - Bibico

Welcome to a new section in the Equa blog. Once a month we will be featuring an interview with one of the amazing designers that supply Equa with our beautiful ethical clothing. For our very first interview we feel privileged to have Nieves Ruiz from Bibico.  

Bibico is a design-led fair trade company that loves simple, easy-to-wear clothes that make you look and feel delightful. Each garment is stitched or knitted by women who work in co-operatives that are certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation.

Image:Bibico, Autumn Winter 2010

In a nutshell what was your initial motivation for becoming involved in ethical fashion?

After working for more than 11 years as a designer for the high street I was sick & tired of the direction that the fashion industry was taking so I decided that I didn’t want to be part of it and I quit my job in London.

After deliberating about other careers and directions I decided to apply my knowledge on the fashion industry combined with the skills of women from underprivileged backgrounds and Bibico was born.

What does ethical fashion mean to you?

It means fashion that gives back......fashion that you wear because you love it and that makes you feel even better because you know that a big percentage of what it takes to make the garment goes directly to the development of the community that make it.

What challenges do you face as an ethical designer?

There are plenty.....I come from 11 years as a designer on the high street so  I can honestly say that as ethical designers we don't have it easy. The biggest challenges are the lead times and the minimum quantities set up for production.

Regarding lead times as ethical fashion=slow fashion things take much longer and it is very hard to compete with the high street. Whilst a normal high street brand brings new items every 2 days an ethical brand takes 4 to 8 months. Everything from the making of the fabric to the stitching of the garments takes much longer and there is not much we can do about it apart from planning ahead of schedule!!

Regarding minimum quantities the consumption of fabrics & clothes is so high that the producers of yarn & trims have set up their own minimums for productions very, very, very high thinking that we are all Arcadia, Gap or Zara so it is never easy to find someone that wants to supply you.

What are your inspirations for this season’s collection?

Warm cosy weekends away in the country side wrapped up with chunky knits over pretty floral & lacy dresses.

What advice would you give anyone looking to make their wardrobe more ethical?

Please come on board and you will be impressed by the long lasting quality of the ethical products. Also look around as there is plenty to choose from including all budgets & styles.

Once you are in, it will be hard to look back at the fast-fashion and you will finally realize that ethical fashion is possible and that it doesn’t cost the earth nor your wallet.

Who are your Style Icons?

I don’t have any really, it is very weird in the fashion world but honestly I believe in pretty nice pieces & I believe in independent unique people that wear what they wear because they love it.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe and where did it come from?

The hand knitted bolero from Bibico’s winter 09 collection. It is the update of the Aran cable in a fashionable, stylish, cute way....I wear it all year round and it is always a key piece in my looks....

It comes from the hills of Nepal where my ladies hand knits all our collections. I do the prototype but they are much better & faster than me so I give all the production to them.

In case you are curious, by  popular demand this piece will be back in our winter 2011 range.

As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an architect or a singer. So I always had the creative side to me but later on in life I realize that my voice was far too masculine & that numbers and calculations were not my cup of tea so that is why I decided to apply my creative side into fashion.

Tell us something you are really excited about…

I am very excited to see the potential of ethical fashion and to realize that thanks to our hard work there are communities improving their lives....... this is what keeps me going....sometimes with all the hard work & all the dramas I forget about it, but every time I go and stay with my ladies I see the changes and the improvements in their communities and there is nothing more exciting that contributing to a better world!!!

Tell us something that really gets on your nerves….

The consumption of fast fashion at ridiculous cheap prices & the lack of a clear message between all the ethical organizations.

What's next for your label?

We are working hard to introduce fairtrade cotton in our collections. Our aim is summer 2011 and by then we will be 100% ethical.

Image: Bibico, Autumn Winter 2010

Thank you Nieves!

To view the current Bibico Collection at Equa click here >>

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Fabric of the Week - Bamboo

Bamboo is one of the most amazing plants on this planet!

It is the fastest growing plant in the world, it can grow up to 1 meter per day. It is a grass, so once cut it will continue to grow without the need for replanting, making it an incredibly sustainable resource. Amazingly, bamboo absorbs more carbon dioxide and breathes out more oxygen than trees. Along with the fact that it grows without the need for pesticides or fertilisers and needs very little water to grow bamboo is one of the most eco-friendly materials available.

Bamboo has been used for centuries in countries such as Japan and China, strips of the material would be used to makes hats and baskets. Being very strong and flexible bamboo was first used in the West as a structural material for corsets and bustles. In recent years technological developments have allowed the bamboo fibre to be spun into yarn. China has patented the process of bamboo textile manufacture, thus having a monopoly on production.

Bamboo clothing can be made from 100% bamboo yarn or blended with other fibres such as cotton and spandex.


Bamboo is naturally thermo-regulating; it is insulating in cold weather but also breathable and light in warm weather. Since most bamboo is grown organically it is hypoallergenic and perfect for sensitive skin.

On top of all of this bamboo is luxuriously soft and comfortable against the skin.

Experience the silky cashmere feel of bamboo in these Bamboo Leggings by Bailey.

The Outsider Slouch Pencil Dress is also made of bamboo, but is a bamboo demin giving the design structure and shape.

More Bamboo items:
Enamore Lady Coco Camisole
Enamore Lady Coco Knickers

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


The Equa Sale has begun. Here are a few of our favourite bargains, catch them whilst you can!  

Boratto Handbag by Matt&Nat.  This vegan handbag comes with an additional chain shoulder strap. It has a pink suedette lining made from 10 recycled plastic bottles. The decorative zip detailing adds some rock chick glamour. Was £150, Now £120

The print on this Lenny Top by Komodo reminds me of a Futurist painting. The loose baby doll shape is perfect for keeping cool in muggy weather.  Was £50, Now £40

Lisa Jeans by Kuyichi. These jeans are slim fitting without being super skinny. The pale grey wash looks great with sorbet colours or summer brights. Were £100, Now £90

Juniper Heels by Terra Plana. Made using recycled quilts, so every colour is a limited edition. I love the surprise element of this - you never know what colour will come out of the box! Recycled memory foam is also used in the inner soles making them some of the most comfortable heels I have ever tried. Were £85, Now £68

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Eco Fabrics

Have you ever wondered what an ‘eco-fabric’ actually is?

There are many variables to consider when classifying a fabric as being an ‘eco-fabric’. This includes everything from how the raw material is grown, the manufacturing process, the chemicals used to dye the fabric to the fabric ultimately being biodegradable or recyclable.

Over the next few weeks Equa will be featuring a different eco-fabric of the week…..


Eco Credentials:
Hemp has been associated with cannabis since the 70’s but it is much more than that. For over a thousand years hemp was in fact the world’s largest agricultural crop, it was even the primary source of protein for both humans and animals. Hemp is now used commercially in a wide variety of products, such as paper, biodegradable plastics, health food, and textiles.

A hemp crop will yield 4 times as much raw fibre as an equivalent sized tree plantation. Hemp is a very hardy plant which can be grown in almost any climate and soil condition, allowing it to be grown on otherwise unusable land. It requires no pesticides or herbicides to grow, even replenishing the soil with nutrients such as nitrogen.

Traditionally hemp produced a coarse woven fabric not suitable for clothing; however recent developments in processing have made it possible to soften the coarse hemp fibres into a soft wearable fabric.

If woven tightly hemp fabric acts as a natural sun screen by repelling 95% of UV rays. It is also a very light and airy fabric while being very strong and durable.

This summer try Equa’s Komodo Cobalt Tunic it is a hemp/cotton mix and has a raw  loosely woven quality, which gives it a natural feel...

                                                                                                  In contrast the Stewart Brown Varley Pleat Dress is made from more tightly woven hemp giving it a fine drape and luxurious finish.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Be A Good Sport!

Sportswear was a big influence on the Spring Summer 2010 catwalks. Here at Equa we love the elegant take on this trend inspired by classic vintage sporting attire. Lacoste sent cable knit sweater dresses and white pleated skirts down the runway accompanied by a soundtrack of thwacking tennis balls. At Hermes outfits were accessorised with leather visors and old fashioned wooden rackets.

To stay in the game with an ethical version, look to pieces such as this Shirt Dress by Outsider. The drop waistline and full skirt perfectly channels the 1920’s tennis dress as worn by Suzanne Lenglen. The natty stripes in this organic cotton dress utilise the natural variation of colour that occurs in cotton plants, so no dyes or bleaches are used in its making.

Named La Divine by the French press, Lenglen was known for her practical style and simple elegance. She famously shocked spectators at Wimbledon by exposing her forearms and mid calves at a time when other female competitors were completely covered.

Unlike many catwalk trends this one is extremenly easy to wear and this organic cotton jersey Oona Tunic Dress by Stewart+Brown is no exception. With a pair of plimsolls it will take you from Frisbee in the park to sipping iced tea (fairtrade of course!) in the shade at your favourite local cafe.

This jaunty Bow Top by Bibico would also make a perfect double with shorts or white linen trousers, sweatband optional!

More of this look:

Friday, 2 July 2010

Jewels of the Jungle

The sun is shining and so too is our Just Trade Semilla jewellery. Fairly traded and made in Peru this beautiful jewellery is so popular this season. The perfect accessory for all summer outfits, effortless and so easy to wear for parties or the park!

Each item is made under the Zoe Project, a fair trade initiative working with women and young people in three of the poorest areas of Lima in Peru. Every piece is created from different seeds found deep in the jungles of South America, which are polished like precious stones to give an almost ceramic like quality.

Each seed has its own story.......

The round, black Choloque seeds used in this bracelet are approximately 12-15 mm in diameter and come from the Amazonian Soapberry Plant. The fruit looks very much like a grape, but the flesh of this fruit when mashed acts as a natural detergent and is still used by villagers in the jungle to do the washing.

The ‘Huayruro’ seed brings with it a long held belief among Peruvians that they have the dual power to attract good fortune and ward off evil spirits. The Zoe project uses the less traditionally recognised reddish orange Huayruro known as “female” and in this necklace the mottled dark red, which is thought to be a hybrid between the “male” and “female”

The smaller black seeds, which make an appearance on the necklaces, come from a ‘Hachira’, a plant which produces large red or yellow flowers. The seeds are also used in jungle villages; people dry them and place them inside dried pumpkins to make baby rattles or musical instruments.

The seeds on the red bracelet come from an Amazonian palm tree, are referred to as either ‘Taguita’ or ‘Coquito’ (small coconut). They have a brown husk which can be peeled away to show their white interior, which is then dyed using textile dyes to the desired colour.

Just Trade works closely with Zoe to develop new products, making use of traditional techniques and local materials to produce contemporary collections of jewellery and accessories.