The Beauty of Upcycling with Ellie Misner
Nirvana CPH: How did you start your journey as a sustainable designer?
Ellie Misner: Officially at university, I always made sure I was pattern cutting sustainably with the least amount of fabric waste. But truly over covid, I started up cycling all my random fabric scraps and collections into corsets. Aiming to buy as little fabric as possible and only using what I had.
In my recent work, the collections are focused on sourcing small batch fabrics which aren’t mass produced and making everything in house in London to reduce carbon footprint. I still aim to use a few up-cycled fabrics within the collections and am constantly sourcing second hand shops for upholstery or other larger quantities of fabric that I can use in some way. I use second hand sheets for toiling so I don’t need to waste calico or other fabrics I already own that could work too.
NCPH: Over the last decade or so we’ve seen more brands hone in on sustainability, with some fast fashion brands also sharing more of their own reports on this. In what ways do you think both consumers and brands can be more sustainable?
EM: I don’t think its possible for fast fashion to be sustainable, the entire business model is based on pushing people to constantly buy new cheap clothing.
Consumers can aim to be more sustainable by buying with more intention, wherever they are buying from. Fast fashion can only be sustainable to the consumer if its not bought in order to wear once. I have plenty of pieces from various high street places that I have owned and worn for over 10 years.
NCPH: Your brand has a huge focus on up-cycling materials and turning them into beautiful bespoke corsets, have you faced any challenges in running a business this way?
EM: When I first started my brand this was the focus, it has shifted into full collections. This made using up-cycled fabrics quite difficult as I can’t reproduce items. Which means I have to focus on show pieces that can’t be reproduced, and individual pieces that I can resources the fabric of. The issue with fabric sourcing as a small business is that it can be extremely expensive to source sustainably.
NCPH: In no more than two lines, what does the phrase ‘Make Better Things’ mean to you and your brand?
EM: It means trying, whether that is trying to not be wasteful with paper and scrap fabric or doing what you can with what you have, it isn’t always going to be possible to choose the sustainable option, but if you can you should.
NCPH: Which brands/artists do you think we should be focusing more on when it comes to sustainability within your industry?
EM: I think collectively smaller designers and brands are much more focused on sustainability than houses have been before, but even the huge houses like Burberry are aiming to be carbon positive in the future. There are so many people in this industry who I admire their attitude to sustainability and sustainable practice, Emma Brewin still makes all her amazing hats in house, Western Affair is super transparent about her sustainable and ethical approach with factories. My friend’s brand Urte Kat is very sustainable in the way they make to order, and only produce small quantities of items for drops. There are way too many to name, it’s really great that it’s become so important. There seems to also be a rise in rental companies and small quantity factories which helps out smaller brands and businesses keep sustainable and less wasteful.
NCPH: What trends do you think consumers should have on their radar when it comes to leading a more sustainable life in 2023?
EM: I think fabric manipulation as a way to be sustainable, for my brand that is with pleating or hand sewing drapes. This requires less sampling which uses less fabric/paper and also gives each piece a little unique feature as usually it's impossible to perfectly replicate.
Find out more about Ellie Misner and her Demi Couture SS23 collection online now.
Posted 09 March, 2023 by Jack Cassel-Gerard