Sunday, 25 April 2010

Exclusive Interview with Nicola Woods from Eco Fashion Label Beautiful Soul

Fashion is a bit like food. Organic food and organic cotton. Fairtrade food and fairtrade clothing. Even local food and local fashion help to reduce climate change by reducing the ‘food miles’ or ‘fashion miles’ of transporting materials around the globe. I caught up with Nicola Woods, founder of Eco Fashion label Beautiful Soul, to find out how and why she wants to make fashion more palatable.

Nicola, can you tell us a bit about your background and involvement in the Eco Fashion industry?

I have a slightly unusual route in to the Fashion Industry. I remember writing to ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ to make me a fashion designer, but life has twists and turns and I found myself caught up in the rat race. The lifestyle it provided seemed to outweigh my lack of passion for my work (Insurance Broking). Something was missing, but I didn’t know how I would cope without the next pay rise. I was stuck in a rut and the security of payday seemed to mist the way. How could I possibly cope without my luxuries.

I had the opportunity to backpack around the world with my best friend and breaking away from the rat race for the first time in my adult life, gave me an insight into living on a budget. I was starting to see life in a different light, with endless opportunities.

Whilst in Tokyo, something happened to me. I was surrounded by the most amazing boutiques. I was like a child in a sweet shop. Mesmerised. Excited. Totally Inspired. Something inside me quite literally *came to life* (hence my love of vintage kimonos).

I realised that I needed to make radical changes. I accepted that everything else would have to be put on hold. I needed the opportunity and guidance to follow my dreams of becoming a fashion designer. I had buried these dreams for too long. I was determined to make this happen. I had found my calling.

I haven’t looked back since. I graduated from the London College of Fashion in 2008, with a BA (Hons) in Fashion: Design and Technology (Creative Pattern Cutter). During my final year, I was involved in a project based around ‘saving the earth’. I was hooked. Fashion with a TRUE meaning, for me, is the only way forward. It makes sense and it adds to my determination.

Fresh from graduating, I won a scholarship through the Centre for Sustainable Fashion and worked as a designer for a South African charity. The work I carried out with Tabeisa, an organisation committed to supporting disadvantaged communities across Africa, sparked a determination to set up my own sustainable fashion label and Beautiful Soul became a reality in November 2008.

Why was the name Beautiful Soul chosen, and what are the main eco credentials of your products?

Beautiful Soul is my nickname given to me by one of my closet friends. I am all or nothing and I thrive on challenge. Beautiful Soul aims to recycle the most 'scrumptious ingredients' from around the world sympathetically, and has made a name for itself with its unique use of vintage Japanese kimonos. The label does not conform to 'throw away fashion' but instead combines luxurious vintage fabrics with sustainable alternatives, such as British wool (sourced from Izzy Lane) and peace silk and organic jacquard (sourced from Tammam). The materials and innovative design combine to give the wearer a truly unique fashion experience.

Silhouettes are considered throughout the design process and a strong emphasis is placed on product longevity, multi function and garment adjustability, offering a versatility determined by our change in body contours. Material remnants feature as fastenings and embellishments, providing a solution to 'zero' waste. Beautiful Soul’s collections are expertly made in London.

What makes Beautiful Soul different from other Eco Fashion brands?

The combination of ingredients.

Where can people buy Beautiful Soul clothing?

You can visit Beautiful Soul’s website for a full list of Stockists:

Current Stockists:
Ascension Boutique:
Beautiful Soul:
Junky Styling:

How do you think the Eco Fashion industry is different in the UK and other countries?

Judging by the feedback from visitors at London Fashion Week, I believe that London is leading the way when it comes to Ethical Fashion. I am proud to contribute to such a positive movement. It’s truly exciting.

What do you think the future holds for Beautiful Soul and the Eco Fashion industry?

It is very early days for Beautiful Soul, but I thrive on challenge and I am extremely driven by my ethos. Change is difficult to influence, as a lone player, but individuals acting as a unified force can make change tangible. Since starting out, I have learnt that there are no rights or wrongs in ethical fashion. The most important thing is to stay true to yourself, keep an open mind and offer transparency. I am at my happiest when I am sharing and believe that this is the most effective way of pushing responsible fashion in to the mainstream.

If readers want to know more about your company or see your next show, where can they find out more information, and who should they contact?

They can visit Beautiful Soul’s website and join our Facebook page (through our homepage) to keep up to date with all our news. There are so many exciting things happening!

Atul Srivastava
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