Ethical fashion might have only hit the headlines in the UK more recently but Finnish designer Camilla Norrback has been incorporating organic fabrics into her collections since 2002. Camilla effortlessly combines eco-principles with inspired contemporary and aesthetically pleasing chic design, that screams "Wear me!" rather than "I'm a hippy!" Her ecoluxury collections prove that ethically sourced materials that are not harmful to people or the planet, can be of incredibly high quality and exceedingly luxurious. Her spring/summer 2007 range has sense of 1970s nostalgia, elegance and glamour and Camillas' autumn/winter 2007 collection is inspired by female pioneers throughout the ages, where, "old meets new in shapes and colours, female meets male." The garments are classic, with rich muted colours and intricate structures. The theme for the autumn/winter season is visions, working towards new goals and evolving in harmony with others.
Dawn Mellowship delves deeper into the inspiration behind Camilla Norrback's fashion statements and passion for eco-fashion, taking the opportunity to talk to the lady behind ecoluxury.
What is your background in fashion?
“I started sewing when I was twelve years old, and immediately fell in love! I got my first sewing machine when I turned thirteen. And since then I have created my own clothes, and in a way this is just continue my childhood dream.”
How and why did you become interested in ethical fashion?
“The deeper questions in life have always been important to me. In my work, I strive to contribute to the world in the best way I can. Also, having grown up in a small town in Finland close to nature, I have learned to the importance of taking care of our environment. Our lifestyle has a great impact today.”
How did your ecoluxury range come about?
"Actually, when I first started using organic fabrics in 2002, the environment wasn’t so 'hot' in the fashion press, so I sort of toned down the ecological parts of my work. My brand had a little bit of an identity crisis in 2003 and 2004, but as I was working on my autumn/winter 2006 collection I came up with the word ecoluxury. Suddenly everything fell in to place. I feel that it corresponds so well to my work and that people really appreciate what I’m doing both in way of designs and in the way I work."
What does 'ecoluxury' mean to you?
“It means not compromising with the design or the way of doing business, that people are most important, including those who produce the fabric and garments as well as the wearer. I strive to do my best in both senses – I need to fulfil my artistic needs, but not at the expense of other people.”
Are your products certified as ethical and what quantity of the fabrics is ethical?
“I work with three types of certification regarding fabrics, organic (which I of course prefer),
Oeko-Tex certified fabrics, and finally product controlled fabrics. I have personally visited the factories we work with to see how they work and to ensure that their standards are high. For me it’s important having a close relationship with everyone involved in the process of making a Camilla Norrback garment.”
What sort of fabrics do you use?
“I love all-natural fibres like cotton, wool, silk and linen. We mainly use organic fabrics such as organic cotton and wool, and Oeko-certified fabrics where we are unable to get organic. Silk usually falls in the third category, product-controlled. This means we get as much information as possible about the fabric, how it has been dyed, worker conditions etc. If we can’t find a fabric with any of those three certifications, we always chose the next best choice, such as a fabric that has been locally manufactured or a material with an historical background such as the Harris Tweed we are using in our coats this season."
What are you aiming for with your summer ‘07 and winter ’07 collections?
“To give people collections filled with great design and as much organic luxurious materials as possible!”
Where do you get the inspiration from for your designs?
“Mainly from the fabrics themselves. But also from movies, music and what is going on in society in general.”
What are your three favourite pieces from your spring/summer ’07 collection?
“Oh that’s hard to say… but I would go for the lace dress Moa in organic cotton, the silk balloon dress and the jeans in organic cotton with bow pockets.”
Who is your favourite fashion designer and why?
“I would have to say that I liked Phoebe Philo’s work for Chloe, Burberry and Prada.”
Do you have any favourite ethical labels, if so who are they are why do you like them?
“I like the philosophy behind Edun. They are really trying to change the fashion industry.”
Where do you go from here?
“I want to continue my work, making more clothes produced in a good way from the best materials. I really want to change the fashion industry and make it more human and caring! Not least, I will of course continue developing my collections and my design!”