Monday, 25 June 2007

Portrait of an ethical fashion designer - Linda Loudermilk

Profile of Linda Loudermilk

Inspired and awed by nature designer Linda Loudermilk creates stylish, elegant and beautifully tailored items, with sustainable fabrics that any self-respecting fashionista would give her right arm to be seen in. You can forget tree hugger hippy hemp. Bamboo pointelles and soya blends go into producing refined clothes that revere nature and bring Linda’s luxury eco line to the forefront. Luscious fabrics are cleverly crafted out of organic cotton, recycled plastic, reclaimed antique lace, sea cell® (seaweed based), soy, sasawashi (a Japanese anti-bacterial leaf) and other sustainable ingredients.

Linda Loudermilk studied Shakespeare and costume design at Oxford University before practising as a sculptor. Opposed to living a hermit like artist existence Linda embarked upon a course at the Colorado Art Institute in Denver and aired her skills in Paris with a couture collection. After returning to US shores Linda launched a range of organic T-shirts, leading her to realise the true potential of sustainable fabrics and to develop her contemporary ‘eco-fashions’.

Some of Hollywood’s best-dressed including Debra Messing, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Fonda and Farah Fawcett are snapping up Linda’s fashion lines without substituting style for substance.

Linda’s avante-garde flagship store will be located on the LA strip, habitat of Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu, only this store will be ‘green’ down to it’s very foundations.

An Interview with Linda

When and why did you become passionate about nature and eco-sustainability?

"I had an experience with a disease in my life that wasn’t going away and it was an experience with my connection with nature that gave me inspiration to heal this disease. It was on a very personal basis. That was before I was even designing and really when that happened I just realised that that connection was what was going to heal me. As time went on I realised how much that connection gave me strength and it was key to my survival. It’s key now, it is my spiritual world, it’s where I get information from. It’s where I find clarity, freedom and the truth, all of what I would want out of being a physical and a spiritual being.

Nature has turned out to be a catalyst for everything that I do. It’s my goal to take this passion and turn it into something that is good commercially, that is strong business that also feeds our ego so we look good walking down the street. God gave us an ego so why not use it for the good, strut it, feel proud of ourselves and trust that we are making the right decisions for ourselves and the world that we are in."

How do you manage to sustain green fashion without compromising on style?

"When I first started out I was designing in Paris on a couture level. I did a show at the Trocadero in Paris and it was stunning. I should have been on top of the world but I went back to my hotel room and cried. I thought, "why am I not happy?" It’s because what I was doing wasn’t feeding my soul. I packed up everything and came back to the states where I knew I had core support and networking. At the beginning I started out with organic cotton T-shirts as that is all there was.

You can make organic cotton luxury, but there are also luxury fabrics that have not hit the market place because there hasn’t been a designer that was able to do that. They have been scared to take a risk on say a corn fabric or even bamboo. The more I talked about these ideas the more I convinced producers to create fabrics that they hadn't wanted to create before because it was too expensive and they didn’t have anyone to take it to the marketplace. I said, "I’ll do it, lets put it out there, lets tell the story." My passion is about using a fabric and telling the story of the fabric and how it’s made, so that people will understand the value."

What are your favourite eco-fabrics?

"My favourite one each season is the new one. Right now we are doing a lot of experimenting with Ingeo [made from non GM corn] . It’s a lot of fun to see what a fabric can do. Once a manufacturer is making enough leads for me to take the message out to the public then we order these in and start our experimenting. Bamboo is a staple favourite fabric because it can feel like silk."

What are your favourite fashion pieces from your own collections and why?

"I love the more costume pieces that’s what comes out of me naturally. I can do that with my eyes closed. Each season it’s something different, the wildest costume piece I create. The pragmatist in me loves the Caterpillar pants which have no pockets, they are just made out of Bamboo jersey. You can wear it for days, you can wear it in a business meeting or for just sitting in the grass. It is that versatile. I also love the Slick Head top.

My passion is to tell the story. Sasawashi is from the remote hills of Japan it was first used to roll sushi and it’s anti-bacterial. Then they used it in the Suji screens. I took a chance on the fabric, which you can do if you are willing to tell the story behind it and represent the people who have worked so hard to create a fabric that respects the planet."

Do you have any other favourite designers? If so who are they and why?
"Alexander McQueen. Whenever I am looking around to pick out a favourite piece of the season, nine times out of ten it is one of his. The fluidity of his lines and expression of the human experience through his garments is really good."

What charities are you passionate about?

"The Children’s Health and Environmental Coalition (CHEC). It was started by James and Nancy Chuda who lost their young child to cancer. They were convinced that it was from environmental toxins. The charity is about 15 years old and we have been doing a lot with them."

What is your favourite holiday location and why?

"It’s not a city but wherever I am I love to lay down under the Christmas tree and midnight and look up at the lights in the silence. I am really able to absorb the holiday spirit."

Who is your favourite musician / group?

"I like a variety of music. I love native American music and sounds. I also love Outkast, anything off, silly and raw. I was a rocker for a long time. The glory of the angry side of us remains with you."

What is your favourite film?

"Pirates of the Caribbean right now because I love Johnny Depp. He almost died here on sunset. His expressions, how he translates his character and expressions of life is fantastic."

Who is your favourite author?

"Neale Donald Walsch and Ellen DeGenevres, I love her simple silly books. It’s that balance between intensity and simplicity."

Who inspires you the most?

"Street people."

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

"This mission. Changing the world one sexy little number at a time, building a fresh new environmental platform."

What is your favourite aspect of nature?

"The oddest ones, a knot in a tree or a drip down the wall, the energy of the oddities of nature invigorate me."

Which of these terms best describes you and why: humanist / realist / spiritual being?

"All of them. I have lived through the intensity of all three and after the intensity is the calm and I am able to be in all of those with a beautiful calm that I am very fortunate to have. What a gift that is."

If you could have anything in the world your heart desired what would you choose?

"Right now I am really passionate about this platform. I feel like it will change the way that people choose products if they understand that there is an environmental platform for luxury goods."

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