Lapidarium was founded as a contemporary womenswear label by fashion designers Marta Gos and Martyna Sobczak who met after graduating from Fashion Design Technology Menswear at London College of Fashion. The label’s bold designs and signature hand-printed textiles are created for spirited and independent women who object to socially created norms.
Responsible craftsmanship lies at the heart of the emerging fashion brand: Lapidarium’s collections are all made in fair and healthy ways in the UK, with certified organic fabrics, recycled and upcycled materials supplied by Italian, French, and UK mills. All clothing can be purchased directly through the designers: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dörte: What is your design inspiration? What inspires you at the moment?
Marta/Martyna: Our textiles and fabrics choices are always inspired by texture, feeling and colour that work with each theme of each collection. We start with a general idea about the collection, but textiles and materials are the main part of it. We are inspired by modern art, fauna and flora or political and economic situation around us… Every collection is different. We are also inspired by women, how they look, smell, behave, what they like or dislike. We studied menswear though at London College of Fashion, so we put a few menswear approaches into a silhouette and form of some garments. We would like to come back to menswear design in the near future as well.
What different kind of materials do you use and what are your criteria for choosing them?
We are really into recycled qualities like post-consumer waste polyamide yarns. We also use fabrics that are organic: organic bamboos, hemp blends, and cotton. We use small and big mills that source yarns from the UK and Europe and produce fabrics locally. We want to ensure that we offer a fabric range that supports ‘domestic' textile production as well. We also experiment with fabrics ourselves, creating handmade pieces that, of course, cannot be transformed into a large-scale production, but also it is not our aim.
Where do you produce your clothing and what is the relationship with your producers like?
Regarding production, it is all made in the UK, with local seamstresses and production houses based in the North-East London. On garment and textile prints we work with lovely printing studio based in South of London Fairbairn & Wolf Studio. We love working with people who are passionate about their work and share the same values and aesthetics as ours. We also support our best local printers Dot Studio, with whom we work on all paper printed materials and special projects.
You advocate the making of "positive products". What is your vision for the future of fashion?
Our vision for the future, in general, is not very optimistic. If we continue
exploiting the environment and our brothers and sisters then there will be nothing left to save and develop. Fashion has never before been so cheap and so fast-paced. The rise of new technologies, biotechnology, resourceful and smart management of production and waste might help to create better solutions for the current situation. Products will be positive when we will start seeing them as not only a purchase, a need for a moment, but when we will start thinking of how, where and why they have been made. We need to think of products in terms of their entire lifecycle. Waste should be regenerated into a positive notion, as something needed and as part of the fashion cycle. Something which can actually have a new beginning. Also, any fashion business depends on the people behind it. Poverty and exploitation of the human workforce behind fashion affects the stability of the industry itself. In general, the whole supply chain needs to be re-evaluated and managed properly.
Your latest S/S '17 collection MANIFA comes as a protest against a proposed stricter abortion law in Poland initiated by the current government. Could you give insights into the current political climate in Poland and the state of women's rights?
Unfortunately, the current political situation in Poland is very unstable. A controversial proposal to ban abortion appears to have collapsed when politicians from the ruling Law and Justice party backed away from it. A parliamentary committee urged MPs to vote it down following mass protests called Black Monday, which we also took part in. Tens of thousands of people boycotted on the 3rd of October to protest against the proposals. If the new law was implemented, it would force women to give birth regardless of threats to life and health. The proposal would also force victims of sexual violence to give birth. The notion of denying someone their bodily autonomy for purely personal, moralistic views or views connected with a specific faith or politics of power, seems lacking in empathy. This ban and also statements in the media from some of the politicians show a complete disregard towards women and their rights as citizens in Poland.
How are these themes reflected in your collection?
We started working on the S/S '17 collection around six months ago and our research and inspiration came mainly from observing a growing opposition among women against the abortion ban. We are two women designers and for us, this was a very personal project. When the abortion ban proposal started to be real, it sparked a massive women's movement. For us, it was amazing to see all these women fighting together for one cause, which is the protection of their bodies, and most importantly, the right to have a choice. The idea behind the collection from the point of view of the silhouette, print and embroidery was racing - a 'male-only' considered sport. Our inspiration were women like racing drivers Desiré Wilson and Lella Lombardi. The shapes are voluminous or bodycon. There are oversized lightweight coats and bomber jackets, but the feminine journey is shown through details such as subtle fabric gatherings or high waisted and curved lines. There is a lot of contrasting, vivacious colour block combinations, especially in the jersey pieces. The metal trimmings are intertwined to add a sport-luxe, playful element. We collaborated with a talented graphic designer from Poland, Edgar Bak, on embroidered and printed badges, which we translate from Polish as MANIFA: feminist protest or MOJE CIALO, MOJ WYBOR: My body, my choice.
Who are your three favourite mindful fashion brands?
If we think about brands connected to the 'fashion world', we love Stella McCartney, Christopher Ræburn and Fonnesbech. These three brands share the same approach to ours, and they produce beautifully made and desired clothes. We also love small artisans or companies like Patagonia, which create their own, strict path into a sustainable fashion future.
Thank you for the interview!