GROUNDTRUTH is a new premium bag brand made from a bespoke PET fabric which was developed using post-consumer plastic extracted from the environment. Even the thread is recycled.
Left - RIKR RANGE 24L BACKPACK - £ 256
GROUNDTRUTH was founded by Sophia, Georgia and Nina Scott, three sisters who have experienced a lifetime of intercontinental, and sometimes extreme, travel. Together, Georgia and Sophia have spent over a decade working and living in communities around the world while filming documentaries for their company, Groundtruth Productions, while Nina has spent her career in product development and artisan textiles, pioneering sustainable products and innovative fabrics.
In addition to reducing plastic pollution, GROUNDTRUTH prioritises ethical production methods by partnering with manufacturers who are approved by bluesignâ, an organisation which provides safer and more sustainable working conditions to change the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industries.
The brand’s first range is called ‘RIKR’, with a backpack being the hero product. Made from 120 plastic bottles, it provides the reliability any traveller might need without sacrificing the wellbeing of the environment for its production. It is 100% recycled.
Right - Founders, Sophia, Georgia and Nina Scott
To celebrate their launch there is a pop-up shop at Protein Studios, Shoreditch until Wednesday 11th September.
TheChicGeek says, "I'm banning the word 'sustainable' until further notice, but this bag is really making advances by being 100% recycled. I do wonder what we're going to do when we run out of plastic bottles?! The reason the bag is black is because this is the easiest colour with the least processes, and there has been a lot of thought and care gone into this new brand and product."
Seeing is believing, so in the case of toxic air it can be hard for many people to be motivated enough to protect themselves. Despite appalling figures for air quality in many UK cities, this invisible killer, which speeds up the end of life for many thousands of people each year, doesn’t feel like it is getting the attention it deserves.
Things are starting to change though with awareness growing and cities introducing steps to reduce air pollution. Fashion brands too are seeing an opportunity to tap into this desire for people to protect themselves, both inside and outside, from this silent killer.
During the famous London smogs of the 1950s, people could see how polluted their air was, today, things are very different with micro particles from traffic pollution being sucked into our lungs and causing long term damage.
The death rate for a lifetime of exposure to microscopic PM2.5 particles created by diesel engines, coal burning power stations, wood fires, agriculture and building sites is rising in almost three quarters of London boroughs. Scientists say that tiny particulate pollution is especially dangerous as the specks of dirt can be absorbed deep into the lungs, then seep into the bloodstream contributing to heart and lung disease, cancer and aggravating asthma. London’s air pollution is estimated to be responsible for 9,000 early deaths each year.
Left - Airinum - Urban Air Mask 2.0 - £55
In 2017, the worst locations in the UK for nitrogen dioxide pollution was Kensington and Chelsea, followed by Leeds and Doncaster. Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. It also estimates that seven million people die each year from exposure to such pollution with the majority in low and middle income countries in Asia and Africa, with India being one of the worst culprits.
When Alexander Hjertstrom visited India he was inspired to start his own company to tackle air pollution. ‘Airinum’ founded in 2015 and based in Sweden, specialises in stylish protective face masks. The name is a merger between ‘air’ and ‘inum’, taken from platinum, to signify the highest quality of pure air.
When Hjertstrom moved from Sweden to India his long-gone asthma had started to come back. He realised he was becoming another victim of air pollution. After searching for a means to protect himself, Alex found that wearing an anti-pollution breathing mask was the most effective way. To his surprise, the majority of the masks on the market were very basic and far from perfect in their construction. Their designs were primitive, reminiscent of the masks worn by dentists or miners. Not something you would want to wear everyday.
“The reason the topic has gained interest lately is due to increase knowledge and awareness fuelled by media highlighting some recent studies showing the detrimental impact that poor quality air has on health.” says Hjertstrom, CEO of Airinum.
“WHO listed air pollution as one of the largest health risks we face today, killing more people than Malaria and HIV combined. Once the public start to realise that this is a ticking health bomb, similar to the effect of when people realised the impact of smoking, new measures will be taken.” he says.
“The ‘Airinum Urban Air Mask’ is a high-quality mask designed to effectively clean the air for the wearer. The key thing is our masks offer very high filtration efficiency and thus protection, high comfort with dual exhalation valves and fully face-adjustable straps for a snug fit, and durable & high-quality design with washable & anti-bacterial treated skin and replaceable filters.” says Hjertstrom.
People in Asia, most notably Japan, have been wearing personal pollution masks for many years, but, will Airinum be able to get the rest of the world to?
“The rest of the world is slowly but steadily getting convinced.” says Hjertstrom. “We sell to NY, Paris, Milan and even Stockholm, today.” he says. “As the product become less ‘must use personal protection equipment’ and more of an lifestyle accessory (or necessity), the barrier gets lower and the acceptance level increases. With celebrities around the world using the Airinum masks of course helps, as it destigmatised the mask from ‘weird’ to something cool instead.”
Right - Airinum - 3 additional filters cost - £12 - The working life of a filter depends on many factors such as the pollution level in your surroundings. On average Airinum filters last 100 hours but they advise to change every second week for hygienic reasons
The Mayor of London has recently introduced his ULEZ - Ultra Low Emission Zone - clean air zone in Central London and the British government has put off the majority of urban drivers from buying diesel cars, but what can we do as individuals and will pollution masks become the latest fashion accessory?
“Recently catwalks in Tokyo, Seoul and Paris all had models wearing masks. This shows how this item is slowly becoming part of the everyday fashion outfit, just like a pair of sunglasses.” says Hjertstrom.
When Stella McCartney unveiled her new flagship Bond Street store, last year, it was the first to offer its customers and staff cleaned air. The first indoor commercial space to do so, the ‘Airlabs’ filter is designed to protect both shoppers and store workers from gas pollutants present inside and outside of the store, in particular nitrogen dioxide from diesel fumes on busy Bond Street.
A unique installation of custom-made filters into the store’s ventilation system cleans more than 1800 m3/h of air with very low energy consumption due to the filter’s innovative structure. it removes 95 per cent of the air pollutants and harmful gases and particulate matter inside through a hidden ventilation system with a nano carbon filter.
Sophie Power co-founded Airlabs in 2014 after realising the dangers of air pollution posed to babies and children when she was pregnant with her first child. Sophie became acutely aware of the fact that in the UK, especially in cities, we breathe high levels of nitrogen dioxide, primarily from diesel fumes, as well as other harmful pollutants. The levels we breathe here cause stunted growth of lungs in our children – a study in East London of 8 and 9 year olds showed their lungs were 5-10% permanently smaller when exposed to poor quality air. The younger the child, the more they are affected and most affected are those in the womb.
More than 2 million Londoners live in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, including more than 400,000 children under the age of 18. More than 50 per cent of London’s toxic air is caused by vehicles. On realising the extent of pollution in London, Sophie left her job in finance to co-found Airlabs together with Professor Matthew Johnson, a Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen.
Today, Airlabs is comprised of a team of atmospheric chemists, airflow engineers and sensor developers based in London and Copenhagen dedicated to clean air solutions. They say better air quality can significantly increase workplace productivity as well as health outcomes, offering potentially revolutionary opportunities for hospitals, schools, office buildings, professional drivers and shops.
"Science is catching up with the reality, which is that the impact of air pollution on people's health is much worse than previously thought. Epidemiological studies take many years, in particular for health effects that develop over many years of exposure. More and more results from these studies are becoming available, feeding into the media news cycle. This has led to a growing public awareness of the issue. A challenge remains how to find out when you are exposed and at what level." says Marc Ottolini, CEO Airlabs.
"That's why we are working on small but highly accurate air quality sensors, with the aim of having one on every corner of the street. When you buy food, a label will tell you what's in it. We need something similar for the air that we breathe. People have the right to know.” says Ottolini.
"Our technology is generating a lot of interest within the retail sector and we have been approached by a number of retailers from shopping centres to stores looking for a clean air solution." he says.
Things are getting worse before they get better. The risk of dying from long-term exposure to London’s polluted air has risen for a second year running. The rate of fatalities linked to breathing in killer particles went up from 6.4 per cent to 6.5 per cent in 2017 according to computer modelled estimates from government body Public Health England. That followed a jump from 5.6 per cent the previous year.
The facts seem to be clearer than the majority of air most of us are forced to breathe in on a daily basis. There’s a helpless feeling of not knowing exactly what we are breathing in and when, and while we could wait for others to sort it out, it seems that we should be taking things into our own hands. Could anti-pollution masks become as common place as SPF and cycle helmets? People in Asia have been wearing masks for many years and we’ve often looked at them skeptically, but now it’s making more sense to follow their lead. If a brand or designer can make this a desirable and ‘cool’ trend, we could start to see many more masks on our streets.
“Hopefully, the more people that start masking up, the sooner our politicians can wake up and create policies that can speed up the cleaning of our air and ultimately our planet as a whole.” says Hjertstrom.
Below - Airlabs technology inside London's famous taxis
Patterned carpet is in the DNA of the British. We’re obsessed with patterns, textures and, ultimately, staying warm! Our Victorian forebears instilled in us a love of Axminster, and, with the second Mary Poppins - Mary Poppins Returns - about to appear on our cinema screens, it feels like the carpet bag is ripe for a comeback.
Left - Made Of Carpet - Voyager Elite - Polaris Red - £169.95
This is an accessory from Arthur Liberty’s time. It’s an item that suits country houses, wood panelling and aspidistras in Art Nouveau planters. They have a richness that celebrates exotic designs while feeling steadfastly domestic.
Right - Made Of Carpet - Sac Voyage - Vintage Navy - £259.95
If you want to get in on the trend early, Made Of Carpet specialise in carpet bags. Based in London, but made in the European Union, they use plush, silky carpets to construct their bags. The tote is ideal as an everyday bag, while the doctor’s style is perfect for weekends away.
Just make like Mary, and fly away!
Below - Mary being magical with her carpet bag
Want to look like a party Dick Van Dyke? Here
Looking online, it appears they’re a sell out. Yes, a sell out! Raf Simons’ AW17 arm-warmers, those accessorises we never knew we needed, and making us think differently about our forearms, aren’t available online anymore.
Left - Raf Simons AW17
That £250 you had burning a hole in your pocket, can be saved, thank god, with a bit of customising and working some magic on leg warmers and socks from eBay.
They do sell ‘arm-warmers’ on eBay, but they all seem a bit too short and tight, and actually designed to keep your arms warm. Duh! So, I started to look at large leg warmers, which you’ll be able to pull over your coat's arms.
It’s just trying to find a pair that is loose enough - the online pictures aren't great, but if it goes over an adult's thigh... - to fit over the arms of a coat that is key, and as seen in the Raf Simons show.
Left - Raf Simons - Knit Sleeves - £244
I went for the black 'Referee' socks, which I'm going to cut the feet out of and then loosely sew around the cut.
They cost me just over £2, including postage, and are a good way to jazz up an old coat, especially with men's fashion weeks coming up.
I think they would look best on a classic long wool coat, in a dark colour, like we saw on the catwalk. I have a perfect one from Jigsaw.
So, at just over a pound an arm, and 100 times cheaper than the originals, get covering those forearms. What have you got to lose?!
From Left - eBay - A selection of Girls/Ladies Referee Socks & Leg-Warmers from around £1.15
Right - Raf Simons AW17
Just as everybody seems to be turning veggie or vegan, so too are our accessorises. M.R.K.T. - Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger - is a Los Angeles-based accessories label established in 2010 by Harvard-trained architect, Tom Pen.
The designs are inspired by modern architecture and produced in materials which are carefully selected with structure, texture, and durability in mind. All of the materials are socially conscious and vegan friendly and feature vegan leather, felt and micro suede.
TheChicGeek featured one in this OOTD - here
Left - Are you a Mad Rabbit or a Kicking Tiger? Carter Backpack
Anyone that gets fired up by that entrepreneurial spirit and decides to launch into the tricky world of menswear deserves a fair hearing. Daniel Gardner, 25, from Kent, has launched Brother & Gent. Moving from media publishing to brand owner, Dan wanted to combine the act of brotherly love with the manners of a gentleman. And, this new men’s accessories brand certainly has lofty aspirations.
Left - Where is all began, Dan's loft
“When I was younger I often wondered how many of these well established and respected menswear brands such as Hackett, Ted Baker, Paul Smith or Charles Tyrwhitt actually started out!? They must have started somewhere, right?.. And I’m sure all would agree there’s no way of creating such a renowned brand name, such a reputation simply overnight... “ says Dan.
Brother & Gent sells men’s accessorises, think ties, bow ties, braces, pins and tie-clips, and while the dandy look is disappearing in menswear, men always like nice things, especially when it comes to gifting. Some of the accessorises are made in England, others in Italy and even some Dan is making himself in his loft. The prices are keen, and, from what I can see, offer great value. Ambition and passion are the two things needed most when starting a business. Watch out Paul Smith!
Right - From Dan’s home county - ’Garden of England' Tie - £36