Birdsong London | Let Ethical Fashion Fly
No sweatshops, no Photoshop.
Sometimes a brand drops into your consciousness for all the right reasons, at a time when perhaps it is most needed. Fashion to restore faith? Maybe.
Birdsong London was set up by co-founders Sarah and Sophie in 2014, with a mission to sell things made by women at the charities they worked with who struggled for income, funding and the ability to get their products out there. Using friends and activists as models (in non-airbrushed images) and backing up their feminist approach by blogging on fashion and sisterhood, they have carved out a new space in the industry.
This autumn sees the first mainline collection from Birdsong Studios, created by teams of exceptional women throughout London. Designed in-house by Susanna Wen, hand-cut, sewn, and finished by migrant women in Limehouse, Poplar and Shoreditch or hand-knitted by women in Enfield and Kingston, the collection sees tailoring, bold prints and ruffles share the rack with cosy jumpers, T-shirts and socks – and yes, it even jumps on the scrunchie comeback wagon (as predicted by Man Repeller earlier this year).
Unashamedly building on themes of strength in the feminine, subtle subversion and sissy power, hints of clever are conscious but not self-conscious. The season’s bespoke floral print is used on ready-to-wear pieces named after Demeter, the mythical goddess of Ancient Greece who created the poppy upon the loss of her daughter, Persephone.
In the words of Birdsong co-founder, Sophie Slater: “We wanted to create campaigns that would fit in with our feminist values. It’s really important, and we think the time’s really right to get involved in conversation around they way women are sold things, who gets represented, and in what way.”
Previous collections include an underwear collab with London and Paris Fashion Week designer, Clio Peppiatt, who created the artwork for supersoft bamboo knickers which were embroidered by Mona at the Burdett Estate community centre, Poplar.
So, smart, playful and empowering. What’s next for Birdsong London? Hopefully an expansion into working with more projects. The brand is poised to hook up with other women’s charities in the UK. Currently their seamstresses are managed by Anjum in the Heba workshop on London’s Brick Lane, sweatshirts and tees are handpainted by a group of migrant women at Mohila Creations in Tower Hamlets, and knits are created at the Bradbury Centre in Kingston and by a Knit & Natter group in Enfield. By collaborating with a network of makers, Birdsong want to invest more energy in building relationships and getting stories and voices heard.
In the meantime this collection is dedicated to, “All the women - workers, wearers and beyond - who came together to create it. To all the women of our past, and the women whose futures we work towards".
© All images courtesy of Birdsong London.