This article is about my history within the fashion industry and how that lead me to start Zola Amour.
I, like many women have dreamed about being a fashion designer for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of being convinced that this is what I want to do is being in my Dads car and being asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. My unquestioning answer was that I wanted to be a fashion designer, which is probably unsurprising as my mother had previously ran a business designing and making wedding dresses.
During my childhood my Mum was always taking on sewing projects, so I think the desire to create was absorbed into my very being from a young age.
As the years went on I kept pursuing that dream. I studied a btec nd in fashion, clothing and textiles instead of A-levels and then feeling as though I wanted to branch into other areas of the fashion industry, went on to study a BA (Hons) in cordwainers footwear: Product Design and Development at the London College of Fashion. I also continued to make clothing as a hobby all the way through my degree and had a couple of commissions to make wedding dresses.
After my graduation, I gained a job as a footwear designer for a New Zealand company. I was privileged to be sponsored to move to the other side of the world in order work for one of the best companies in the country.
During this time, I was fortunate enough to travel to factories in the Far East on a regular basis to check on production, negotiate prices, source materials etc. It was during these trips that I began to see the devastating effects that mass-production is having on our World.
The first time I flew to China was November 2012. I remember landing at Hong Kong airport in the morning, looking out the window of the aeroplane and thinking to myself...'Wow! It's a misty morning, I wonder when it'll begin to clear?'... The thing is, it didn't clear and would go through gradients of being slightly better and a lot worse.
Upon visiting the factories, it was apparent how much waste is produced from production and for me, thinking about the sheer amount of leather, PU and other offcuts that get thrown away everyday just in China was and still is incredibly shocking! Then I began to think of the way that we consume shoes, most of which are made out of PU and cheaper leather alternatives. All of which are produced from oil and will take an incomprehensible amount of time to biodegrade, if they will biodegrade at all.
They are produced so cheaply and sold for such a low price that they are considered to be disposable - But at what cost?
It goes even deeper than that, every piece of material/ leather/ PU is made using water combined with chemicals, most of which will not be cleaned afterwards and will simply be pumped back into rivers, seas etc.
Following my return to our side of the World in 2014, I spent a little bit of time volunteering at a permaculture farm in the heart of France. My host, Martin, completely changed my perspective on the World. His belief that everything should be grown naturally from the ground and return to the ground when it was finished with, struck a chord with me. I began trying to apply this initiative to my life, by avoiding plastic, recycling everything, reducing my personal consumption and making informed decisions about my day to day shopping habits. However, it was time to return to the real World and to pursue what I thought was my goal...
I gained one years work experience in 2015 at Jimmy Choo. It was during this time that life became a whirlwind of inner contradictions raising many questions about where I fitted into this World. Whilst I loved designing and admired the incredible amount of skill that goes into creating each and every piece of footwear. My contradiction was the drive to make each of those carefully constructed style 'redundant' and 'old fashioned' at the start of each new season. Also, as the high street of the industry follows the designer labels, meaning that everything everyone works so hard to lovingly create, is ultimately designed to be disposed of.
Then, I began to consider the sheer quantity of clothing, shoes and accessories simply thrown into a landfill because they are either no longer a valid style choice, or were so cheaply made that they fall apart in no time at all, made me incredibly uncertain about where I fitted and even if I could continue in a career that morally I disagreed with.
After much research, I realised very quickly that it is incredibly difficult to find natural, stylish and timeless sustainable clothing. In June 2016, Zola was born.
My aim with Zola is to change consumer perspectives. To create sustainable items of clothing ethically that meet strict criteria and carry certifications to ensure that they are natural/ organic and that their environmental impact is a low as possible. Not only that, but I wish to ensure that everything produced, has been carefully designed whilst considering the longevity of use for each piece. Each piece is made out of the best quality organic certified fabrics and finished to the highest standard, to ensure that it will last and be able to be loved for years.
I believe that a change is coming, that people are waking up, wanting better for our world and are consciously choosing to save it, not destroy it.
Join us in being the change...