Thursday, February 14, 2013


Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large

In fashion, aesthetic usually comes before ethics. We think first about how lovely a dress is before we think about its backstory. There are a very few labels showing at the big four fashion weeks which shout loud about their conscientious credentials, though it has to be said many of them manufacture in specialist and often local factories. Hot NY label Suno stands out from the crowd, precisely because its first function was to provide jobs and hope in response to economic and political instability in Kenya. It was 2008 and Max Osterweis wanted to find a practical solution to the difficulties he was witnessing in his "long time second home". Suno has travelled quite a trajectory since then. Osterweis and his design partner in the venture, Erin Beatty, have set about ramping up the fashionability of their brand, dressing Kate Bosworth and Solange Knowles as well as earning nominations for the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund two years running. If there's anyone destroying the stereotype that ethical fashion must be fusty and irrelevant, then it's Suno.

Can you spy the twinkle of crystal kneepads? (images via
Osterweis and Beatty started out using traditional African kanga prints and manufacturing mostly in Kenya. Since then, they have opened further outposts in Peru and India, employing skilled locals. Crucially, their work looks very at home on the New York catwalk. In their show on the evening Storm Nemo hit there were stripy jumpsuits, embroidered jumpers, crisp shirts, lots of tartan and sparkling evidence of their first collaboration with Swarovski. The most original and dazzling result of the hook-up is a crop top and dirndl skirt set, but there were also chunky gems embellishing black neoprene shift dresses. The look was all about "modern armour", Beatty told Vogue. Swarovski have very kindly given FEAL an exclusive first look at the video they have made, showing how Suno used their gems in the collection. "There is nothing so chic as crystal kneepads" exclaims Beatty. So very true, and all the more exquisite given they were crafted by expert artisans in Suno's Indian workshop.

Swarovski also worked with Creatures of the Wind, another show we loved from New York. Check out their collaboration below...

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