This post was sponsored by WYNAD. All thoughts my own.
When it comes to sustainable fashion, fabrics and fibres can be a bit of a minefield. There are so many to get your head around, and it can be hard to know where to get started when trying to live more consciously. Silk is a particularly interesting one. It can divide opinion, but the synthetic alternatives aren’t exactly great either. While not as unsustainable as fake fur, silk alternatives are usually petroleum based, non-biodegradable and so unbreathable your body will probably hate you, making it hard to decide which is the best option to go with as the situation isn’t exactly black and white.
Enter the humble lotus flower. A longtime symbol of divine purity in Asian culture, and a predominant symbol of harmony throughout history, this plant also provides an alternative to both synthetics and the natural fibres we’ve grown used to. It’s often described as a cross between silk and linen, and yet I’d never heard of it before I was first introduced to WYNAD clothing, one of my favourite ethical and sustainable UK fashion brands. After finally seeing their clothes in person at the London event ‘Ethical Brands for Fashion Revolution’ in April, I was able to get up close and personal with lotus silk for the first time. I can now confidently say it may be the one of the best discoveries I’ve made this year, especially when it comes to being properly equipped for the summer months.
Lotus flowers are used for a variety of purposes; often being harvested for their seeds which are used in industries such as food, medicine and flower arranging. They are generally picked from above the stem, leaving these stems to create waste in lakes. French fabric designer Awen Delavel was one of the first to take a closer look and discover that the stems contained long fibres inside, fibres that create a soft, delicate thread that could be spun into textile material. After embarking upon research and development the first lotus fabric was created; a natural textile that is breathable, wrinkle free, waterproof, naturally stain resistant and soft to the touch. The creation process is hard work, but sustainable, as it’s done entirely by hand, as well as being low waste, as leftover parts of the lotus can be used to make lotus teas, infusions and flour. In fact, lotus silk been identified as potentially the most ecological fabric in the world, and it is the first natural microfibre in the world, so doesn’t contribute to plastics shedding into our waterways either.
When my friends over at WYNAD first told me they were working with lotus flower silk, I was excited but fairly naive. I’ve written about this brand before, as their commitment to gender equality, sustainable fashion and post punk aesthetics is basically my dream combination. They work with Fair Trade accredited production houses across India such as Jacobs Well (Bangalore), Tharangini Block Printing Studios (Bangalore) and Freeset Global (Kolkata), 10% of their profits are donated to female empowerment projects, their dyes are GOTS accredited low impact, they use ancient natural dyeing and printing techniques, and the pieces from their collection are made with GOTS certified organic cotton or, you guessed it, lotus flower silk. WYNAD source their fabric through their partnership with Fairkonnect in Bangalore, India, who specialise in connecting socially aware buyers with ethical and sustainable producers and artisans. The specific lotus flower silk they use is created from raw materials that are collected from a variety of locations, and woven across various Fair Trade Standardised production units in South India.
Basically, their ethical credentials are pretty darn great. But it turns out their lotus silk is even better.
WYNAD’s short sleeve kimono, made with lotus silk
Having profiled WYNAD a few weeks previously, it wasn’t hard to spot Hannah and Rob at the Fashion Revolution event where they launched their first collection fully in April. Not only because Rob is incredibly tall, but because WYNAD stands out in a crowd. Even from across the room it’s impossible not to spot the flashes of pastels, patterns and pure fun straight away. I also immediately noticed how many people were gravitating to the classic black playsuit and the kimonos, which just so happen to be the items made from lotus silk. Keen to see what the fuss was about I made my way over, only to find myself joining everyone else in giving the clothes a stroke too. I fell in love with how incredibly soft, lightweight and delicate the material was, whilst managing to look much more luxurious (and way less cheap) than many a silk alternative I’ve seen elsewhere. Honestly, if you put real silk and lotus silk in front of me, I don’t know if I’d be able to distinguish the two. It has a beautiful sheen to it, moves easily, and still feels durable and strong. I wasn’t surprised to see nearly all of WYNAD’s playsuit sell that day.
WYNAD’s playsuit, made with lotus silk
Having now learned of its background, and seen it for myself, lotus silk is a fabric that makes me excited about the future of sustainable fashion. Not only is it created from waste, it leaves little behind. It’s not petroleum derived, so can return back to the earth at the end of its lifecycle, but it’s also incredibly durable, delicate, and beneficial for the body. It’s both fascinating and encouraging to see new alternatives being released each year from plant materials, and I’m always blown away by the new innovations and ideas we’re able to come up with as better fabric solutions. Here’s to seeing more lotus in our lives going forward.
And if, like me until very recently, you have never seen or felt lotus silk, then you’re in luck this month! If you’re in London between August 9th and August 12th you can visit WYNAD at Compare Ethics’ pop up at Truman Brewery, as part of V for Vegan festival. WYNAD are partners with Compare Ethics, and will be showcasing their designs alongside seven other new brands that also partner with them.
You can find the event information here, just make sure to bring your wallet. Because once you’ve felt lotus silk, you might just find yourself with a strong desire to take something home with you.
To read more about interesting plant based materials check out my sustainable wallet made from banana leaves (still going strong after over a year) or my bag which is ethically made from the Hana Plant in Sri Lanka.