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Lately, dreamy imagery of handcrafted carpets in beautiful settings has caught our eyes on Instagram. The sender is SËBOU, a new brand aiming to share untold stories through the craftsmanship of carpets–and soon ceramics. The carpets are designed in Sweden and knitted by eight women from different tribes in the Kenitra region in Morocco.
Make it last asks co-founder Omar Marhri (pictured above with colleague Wadood Suberu) about SËBOU’S visions and where the idea of launching the brand came from.

– It was never really an idea that just came to me, it is been more of a process after taking interest in the art and craftsmanship of carpets from a very early age. For thousands of years, the Moroccan Berbs have been knotting carpets in the same way with the same historic designs and materials. I’m trying to challenge what has been, mixing old with new, Swedish with Moroccan. I became truly inspired by Märta Måås-Fjetterström’s art of weaving.

How did you find your way to the Kenitra region and the women who knot the carpets?

– I have a family house in Kenitra and I’ve spent most of my summers there. As I got older, I started going on quests in Morocco during my stays. I wanted to find the best weaver, and then I finally found the right person who understood my vision and ideas.

What does the design process look like? 

– It starts when I wake up and ends when I go to sleep. I’m constantly thinking and visualizing colors, objects, sounds and blends. When I have and idea, I narrow it down and create the pattern and match it with colors of yarn that I believe will go well together. Later I work with the weaver to start the weaving process.

What have been some of the most valuable experiences from idea to launch? (Please share the difficult ones!)

– Learning how to work creatively, to design and produce products. This entire process is new to me. And to be honest selling online is one of my bigger challenges. I’ve mostly sold products thru face to face meetings.

You mention ceramics on Instagram – what’s in the pipeline for the brand except for the rugs?

– We will be launching our own SËBOU yarn and design handmade ceramics for restaurants and hotels.

What’s SËBOU’S definition of sustainability?

– Sustainability for us is working with a production process where we make everything from scratch. We make our yarn and we blend our own clay for the ceramic. For us it’s making sure the people we work with are adequately payed and the nature from which we create our products is respected. Quality in our product lays in respect for human being and nature.

Discover SËBOU here and follow here.

We’re so exited to see one of our favorite brands BITE Studios available at Net-a-Porter. As part of the mentorship program The Vanguard, BITE Studios is highlighted as a small label with great potential in the luxury fashion sector. The two tier initiative is comprehensive and connects the brands to senior Net-a_porter staff, like the Managing Director and President, in order to further their business, sales and marketing strategy.

If you don’t know BITE Studios since before, it’s a British-Swedish brand founded in 2016 with “a vision to create luxury womenswear that values the environment, all while focusing on the perfect fit to highlight the female body in the most flattering way”.

The images above are from Collection No 4; the autumn/winter collection for 2019. It’s a predominantly black collection, with hints of caramel, tumeric and brown. The prints are inspired by the watercolours of Irene Monat Stern.

Visit BITE Studios here and follow here. Find BITE Studios on Net-a-Porter here.

Once a week or so, I browse the internet for interesting reads on fashion and sustainability. With so much happening within this field; research, innovation, collaborative efforts, product launches; there’s always too little time to keep updated.

The last few weeks though… I’m not feeling as inspired as I usually do during these rounds. I kind of feel, it’s all the same. Not enough effort, no radical change achieved.

I imagine that’s what the two women who prove to be the exceptions of my just-not-enough analysis felt when they went and did something about it:

Rachel Kibbe launched Helpsy as an e-commerce stocking sustainable brands eight years ago. Then, when she got the opportunity, she closed the store and merged her brand into something new: a clothing collection company. With some 1,850 collection containers and retailer collabs with actors such as Bloomingdale’s, Helpsy, collects, deals and diverts used clothing. About half of what Helpsy collects gets reeoffered for sale at second hand shops in native US and overseas (source).

“I came to the belief that sustainability and fashion are essentially oxymorons and the world doesn’t need more clothes, they need scalable solutions for clothing trash,” Kibbe said in an interview with WWD.

Maxine Bédat co-founded Zady, a brand considered to be at the forefront of the ethical fashion movement for a while. Four years after it launched, the brand disappeared. I read that Bédat felt she had to pursue her vision of making fashion more sustainable in another way than producing her own brand. ”We can’t buy ourselves out of the problem. A big part of the sustainability question is just how many garments are being produced, and having to slow that down.”
Bedát has now launched her new gig, the New Standard Institute , which is a non-profit data hub intended to ”’right misinformation wrongs” in the ethical fashion space by supporting research and publishing findings on best practices (did you know the idea of the fashion industry being the second largest polluter in the world is not true?). In other words, Bedát chooses to share what she’s learnt from the Zady journey (and then some) for it to be approachable for others.

Although I do appreciate new brands and product launches that pioneer new ways of doing things–I think they are needed for us all to wake up–I also agree with the more radical approach of Kibbe: “You can create as many small-label collections as you want; that’s not going to solve the environmental problem of most clothes going to the trash.”
Does the world need a new organic cotton dress collection? If nothing else, a question worth considering. It’s a fact that we still produce more clothes than we need. As Anand Giridharadas argues in his book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World from 2018:

”It’s not that starting a new label is always wrong, it’s just that it may not be the best use of one’s creative potential, money or time if addressing the climate crisis is a serious priority.”

That’s it for now. Talk soon.

Images: Unrelated and unknown. 

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