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

Monday, 18 October 2010

Designer Interview - Aura Que

For this month's designer interview I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Laura Queening from the gorgeous fair trade accessories label Aura Que. 

In a previous post I mentioned just how much I love these bags with their hand knitted banana yarn panels..

Image: Aura Que AW10 collection, Large Zip Handbag
 In a nutshell what was your initial motivation for becoming involved in ethical fashion?

During my final year at Cordwainers at London College of Fashion, I wanted to work with small producer groups in a more personal and ethical way. So I sourced fair trade producers in Nepal, a place that I loved after my gap year teaching English in a rural village there.

After I graduated in 2007, I was involved in the LCF Shared Talent Fair Trade Project in Johannesburg, South Africa and designed a collection of recycled leather handbags for the Oxfam Boutique. Then I decided that I wanted to create my own brand with my links in Nepal, launching AURA QUE for Autumn/Winter 2008.

What does ethical fashion mean to you?

For me, it means that considerations are made during the design and production process, to work with producers that are treated fairly, enabling them to support their families and also to source materials that are more sustainable where possible. In developing countries like Nepal, fair employment helps people to help themselves.

With AURA QUE, it is not possible at the moment to get a perfectly ethical supply chain, but every material and manufacturer is carefully considered with regards to ethics, design and cost. The social fair trade aspect is of primary concern to me – working directly with all my producers, and using handmade local materials and production that create more employment opportunities.

What challenges do you face as an ethical label?

I am working with some fantastic Nepalese people and producer groups and as with most labels, it is a constant challenge to meet production deadlines and maintain quality control. When working on new designs, it is a joint effort between myself and the sample makers Kumar and Arjun, working out the best way to make the product with the factory’s technical equipment and skills.

What are the inspirations behind this season's collection?

The new A/W Collection incorporates the signature AURA QUE look combining leather with textured handknitted panels, with inspiration from various pieces of formal menswear and details drawn from leather braces, high collars and jackets. I also wanted to get a very asymmetric but practical look this season with many of the bags having versatile handles and straps.

Image: Aura Que AW10 Collection, Bucket Handbag

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

There is a lot out there now! Not only with some great new independent designer labels, but also ethical collections on the high street. It is also about caring for your clothing and accessories so they last longer, as well as investing long term in quality products.

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

When I was travelling through Spain and Morocco in 2001, I bought a bleached denim jacket which I still wear nine years later, though it’s acquired a few rips on the elbows along the way…

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

Aah I could never decide, I think I went from wanting to be an air hostess, to a doctor, bio chemist, architect and then handbag designer…I’m glad I am doing what I am doing now!

Tell us something you are really excited about...

I am really excited to be going back to Nepal soon, to work on my new A/W 2011 collection – I spend about 4 or 5 months of the year out there - I love it!

What's next for your label?

AURA QUE is gaining momentum with the leather/knit bags and accessories – and we are looking to create a classic leather range, and eventually launch a unisex range – all a work in progress!

Thank you Laura!

To view Equa's collection of Aura Que bags click here >>

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