Earlier in the year I received an unexpected email from some of the team behind Islington Square. Located directly between Angel and Highbury & Islington stations, the Islington Square project has seen parts of north London’s old postal sorting office converted into a new social space, featuring everything from pedestrian squares, plant shops, plantbased food and art spaces.
As part of this new approach to the building, the team were also planning to incorporate a marketplace to support emerging ethical and sustainable brands. Eager to avoid greenwashing and provide support to independent makers, they reached out to me for curation and guidance as they worked on creating a thoughtful edit of conscious creations, resulting in a thriving little market for ‘The Canvas’ space.
The marketplace opened last week, and will be open 10am – 6pm Friday to Sunday until December, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about the brands that ended up coming together to take part. Each brand is owned and run by wonderful people who I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the summer, so I thought now would be a lovely chance to share their work. Small scale, independent and creatively minded ventures are always the kind of models I prefer to support , so why not take the chance to share eh?
Here’s who is involved:
Ally Bee is a contemporary luxury knitwear brand that is ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’® certified, which is a globally recognised measure of safer, more sustainable products made for the circular economy (products are assessed on material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.)
Each collection is lovingly crafted from natural fibre yarns that are sustainably sourced in Britain. Their signature jumpers and accessories are made in small batches in the Scottish Borders, while limited-edition statement hand-knits are produced by an artisanal women’s knitting hub in India. I’ve known of this brand for a few years now, and they consistently work to grow and ensure they have a light impact on the earth in all areas of operation.
Charlotte Dunn Design
Charlotte Dunn Design was created to combine two important passions: sleep and the environment. Good sleep is vital to health and wellbeing, and yet it is often overlooked and undervalued in contemporary culture. Charlotte Dunn Design’s capsule collection of luxury sleepwear seeks to encourage mindfulness and acts of self-care in daily life.
The collection is produced using GOTS-certified materials which are organic and produced using closed-loop processes. The result is a collection of sustainably made items for wearers to treasure for many years to come. Each collection is made in small batches under ethical conditions, where workers are treated well and paid fairly.
Frank Horn is an East London-based brand offering a selection of goods that are handmade in London with vegetable-tanned leather and produced in small batches.
Frank Horn was founded by Uzo Okwuosa, a self-taught artisan, in 2015 after he was inspired by a trip to Nigeria. Each design emphasises timelessness, durability and functionality, whilst also offering a bespoke service. Uzo himself is an open-hearted soul, passionate about his craft and dedicated to creativity and quality. He truly embodies what it means to be an artisan in a modern-day context.
Glow & See
Glow’s unisex range of light-reflective and adaptable accessories are designed for conscious city-dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Uniquely poised at the intersection of athleisure and traditional safety-wear, their pieces are stylish, functional and sustainable, while also promoting road safety at night and social impact simultaneously.
Founded by conscious stylist and all-round-lovely-human Comet Chukura, Glow’s range of snoods, beanies and headbands are made from wool with a unique glassfibre yarn woven into it, making them quick-wicking, breathable and light-responsive, to keep you safe during the darker months and uniquely stylish too.
Glow knows each of their makers personally, as they work with women who have faced socio-economic barriers due to factors such as mental/physical health, race, class, or immigration status. These women handcraft every Glow item, receive a fair wage and increased empowerment and confidence.
Ryley is an activewear brand that recycles waste products into new responsible designs, that are created to be as long-lasting as possible. Their designs focus on functionality, sustainability and transcending trends, whilst they also offer a Repair and Recycle service to promote circular economy principles.
Ryley was founded by Robyn Yeang, a fitness professional with a background in fashion design. Ryley was inspired both by the women Yeang has trained with and her father’s eco-architecture practice, resulting in practical, functional and beautiful creations.
shado is an online and print publication working at the intersection of arts, activism and academia to spotlight those at the frontline of social change. shado believes that those with lived experience of an issue or injustice are best placed to discuss and advocate for meaningful change in that space, shado is a platform for such people.
Alongside the magazine, shado will also be selling bangles from their I AM WOMXN collaboration with Article 22. Each bangle is ethically made in Laos from locally sourced bomb shrapnel that has been recycled into jewellery, and a portion of each sale is donated to Mines Advisory Group to continue clearing the 80 million unexploded bombs contaminating land in Laos.
market photo by Kensington Leverne