“Isabel Manns – speaking sustainably”


In an era where the word “sustainable” seems to me in many instances to have been degraded to that of a meaningless advertising slogan it’s a pleasure to say that when it comes to sustainability Isabel Manns is the real deal. 

Driven by a desire to deliver quality at an accessible price-point that conviction is built on transparent sustainable and ethical foundations.

I met Isabel during London Fashion Week at her AW20 presentation to discuss her latest collection and the core values which ensure that every stage of her brands creative process is underpinned by an unequivocally sustainable footprint. 

1.Congratulations on your AW20 collection. What motivated you to create these pieces?

I was on holiday in the Costa Brava in northern Spain on a boat trip and our guide said that Salvador Dali was inspired by this region and the huge rocks I saw there inspired me. That’s how it started and that’s how I started to design the prints.

2. Am I right in saying that you paint your own prints and how does that work as part of the creative process?

Its either paintings that I then put into a photo shop and then put into repeat print or it’s a photograph that I then inflate. I think in this collection everything’s based on painting

3. Which part of the design process do you enjoy most?

The print is definitely one big part of it but I think when I receive the fabric from my printers and I see it in real life that’s the most exciting part.

4. I understand that you studied at Parsons?

It was where I studied print design. If it hadn’t been for Parsons I wouldn’t be here now because the degree allows you not to just learn womenswear but also millinery, shoe design and print design so I got all that experience there. It taught me that things need to be really wearable when you’re on the go there. So quite often in New York I would dress the pieces with trainers or flats while in London I would dress them up and accessorize with heels and so it’s a combination of both. You can dress it up but you can also wear it during the day and make it really casual

5.I know that sustainability is core to the brands DNA. Can you talk me through your sustainable ethos? 

We are using more single fabrics, it’s like a wool and viscose and the sculpture in the middle of the presentation space is every single waste fabric which went into making the collection and which isn’t much. It’s all made in London and so we don’t really have much air miles involved and labels, hand tags and packaging are all made in Britain. The way I design each piece is so that each piece will fit on the fabric roll perfectly so there is little waste and anything left over is made into scarves or such like.

6. I also understand that you are very ethically aware in terms of workers conditions and their rights?

That’s why I want to make it in Britain. I want to know the name of every seamstress and I want to know they’re looked after and that every stage of my production is ethical and so I use family run factories in London

7. Do you feel that the fashion industry is in danger of the sustainability tag becoming just another advertising slogan?

I think that sustainability has become so fashionable that everyone’s now wanting to do it and if you look into it how many people are actually being sustainable and how many people are just saying it? You have to be very transparent if you are sustainable.

8. What does the rest of 2020 hold for you and the brand?

I hope this collection does well with the buyers. For my next collection I want to look into even more sustainable fabrics but one thing that’s hard with this is because it’s such a fashionable thing it is expensive. It’s a price you’ve got to pay but not everyone wants to pay a larger price because its sustainable. So, it’s trying to find those mills that will produce it how I want it and then find buyers.

Huge thanks to Isabel for taking the time during her AW20 presentation to provide such a fascinating insight into her brand and its ethos. Big thanks also to Millie and those legends at Black PR for arranging everything.

Article by : Brian James| Fashion Writer | @brianjamesstyling

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