This is possibly the waftiest of wafty dresses I’ve seen all summer. Spotted at a local market in south London, it belongs to a small fairtrade company called Cotton Conscious. The co-founders are husband and wife team Lisa Galibardy and Blue Philpotts who spend half the year in London and half the year in India. Rishikesh is on the banks of the River Ganges in the Himalayas; it’s where the Beatles went in the 1960s to meditate and where the Cotton Consious team ended up by accident. ‘It’s a really beautiful community,’ says Lisa, ‘We didn’t intend to stay but I got sick and we extended the visit, and thank god we did because it’s changed our lives.’
The 42-year-old entrepreneur (and model, in these photos) struggled to find anything to wear in Rishikesh that was practical, stylish and covered-up. Inspired by traditional Indian dress, she started designing her own clothes. ‘I’m always trying to keep it together while I’m travelling, I wanted something that you don’t need to iron, that dries quickly and still looks nice. I guess it was vanity that drove me to it but when people kept asking me about my clothes, we decided it was a good way to help the community.’ Cotton Conscious aim to create sustainable jobs and create a cycle of self-sufficiency in the town – 10% of profits from every sale are donated to charities and Ashrams supporting underprivileged women and children.
And, Cotton Conscious coincident: I was at Graduate Fashion Week yesterday and noticed one of my very stylish university colleagues in one of their jumpsuits. ‘These are hardwearing clothes that we hope people will love and have for a long time,’ adds Lisa. The Khadi scarves are spun on a traditional wheel and patterned cotton dresses and jumpsuits are block printed. ‘I love the littleness of everything In Rishikesh. The man at his sewing machine, the mill where we get our fabric, it really is back to basics…’
Cotton Conscious will be at Northcross Road Market next Saturday, they have literally just started out so what they have is what they have, things are available to buy online and the pair are planning to ‘open the smallest flagship store in the world,’ in Rishikesh this autumn.
There’s a Vogue feature HERE on some other new sustainable fashion brands.