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

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 >>

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