I don’t think there will ever be a time when finding people who are recycling materials in interesting and innovative ways won’t make me excited. I love the idea of upcycled fashion not just for its sustainability, but also for the excitement of seeing the varying ways designers reimagine one thing to become another, it’s a kind of talent that blows me away. House of Lonali, who have recently made their foray into the UK market, are another incredible upcycling team to add to this category, diverting textiles from landfill by creating beautiful, ethical products with them instead.
Based between Sri Lanka and London, Lonali believe that consumption should be approached thoughtfully, and work to provide uncompromising style that doesn’t cost the earth. They lovingly source and upcycle unwanted textiles from large manufacturers, transforming them instead into original clothes and lifestyle products. Designer Lonali Rodrigo sources the fabrics herself for each line, looking for quality textiles and interesting prints with a contemporary metropolitan aesthetic. They also work closely with the artisans in regional South East Asia to hand-make their pieces, providing fair income in good working conditions, as well as preserving traditional skills.
Lonali’s designs have won several awards and consistent media attention within Sri Lanka, and their expansion to bring their philosophy and aesthetic to London, a bustling hub of diverse culture and fashion, has been a really exciting move for them. I met with Anna, the London side of the business, in a small coffee shop in West London, where she told me a little more about Lonali’s history. Whilst they have only launched in London in recent months, their momentum is growing fast due to the quality of the products and the unique designs themselves, and the people behind the brand are incredibly passionate, thoughtful and curious.
Lonali’s current portfolio includes clothing, clutches, bags, shoes and notebooks, all handmade from upcycled materials. If you happen to be in Sri Lanka you can buy these things from their store, otherwise you’ll find them at Portobello Road Market in London every weekend. (You can also currently find their shoes for sale on their website, more will be coming soon there). Alongside their clothing and shoes I was lucky enough to see how they converted textile into notebooks, and it is really stunning. It seems shocking that such an interesting piece of fabric was simply going to be thrown into landfill, but this once again demonstrates how silly a throwaway wasteful culture can really be. These fabrics are given a new lease of life, and the products they become are designed to be beautiful, durable and wonderfully well made, the perfect blend that slow fashion should strive for.
When it comes to brands manufacturing within Asia, it’s also nice to find someone that actually started in Sri Lanka with a Sri Lankan designer. Along the way Anna joined the story, bringing in the UK expertise and a set of feet on the ground to run operations on this side of the pond, but it’s always refreshing to put your money into the pockets of the right people, as opposed to another white billionaire who has no connection to their workers or supply chains. It’s a healthy way to support the Sri Lankan economy, boost artisans in the area and support sustainable creation, my favourite combo.
So if you’re interested in unique textiles, good design and supporting artisan craftsmanship in Sri Lanka, House of Lonali may just be the ones for you. On your next weekend trip to Notting Hill look out for them on Portobello road, who knows what interesting textiles you might find transformed for their next life.