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“It’s anything but easy to make eco-friendly fashion,” says designer Helen Steele

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Irish designer and artist Helen Steele has spoken about the pressure to create eco-friendly fashion amid the climate crisis.

s Steele, who has dressed big names like Saoirse Ronan and Cara Delevingne, said it’s a topic that’s “constantly on my mind”. She also lashed out at the “Ageist” fashion industry.

The award-winning designer said 50 percent of her products for her main line are made from recycled fabrics, but she’s had some negative experiences in recent years trying to create sustainable products.

“I’ve had really bad burns, especially in the last two years because it’s been trial and error with fabrics and some fabrics shrink by 10 percent and others by 30 percent,” she said.

“So you would make your print and buy the eco fabric and then you have to wash it and it’s at that stage that you really find out what the shrinking is like. So I think there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“I think from my own experience that greenwashing happens on so many levels. There are some fabrics that are made from recycled plastic bottles, for example, but the problem in the industry is that there are places in the world that actually make these plastic bottles – they’re not made from waste bottles. They produce them to incorporate into these fabrics.”

Ms Steele, who is from Maynooth but splits her time between Dublin and Monaghan, works with a company in the Netherlands that is “rigorous” about the materials used.

“I’ve seen the company change in the last five or six years and there’s so much fabric that they just don’t use anymore,” she said.

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“So 80 percent of the fabrics they sell are all recyclable or eco-friendly fabrics made from bamboo or wood pulp. There are some really great things happening in the industry and it really is about time.”

Aside from her main collection, which is sold as costume at Castle Market in Dublin, she also produces a range of casualwear at Dunnes Stores, featuring her signature colorful prints. She was determined that it would go up to a size 24.

“People need affordable clothing and there are many women who would buy the Dunnes collection who just can’t afford to buy sustainably and want to exercise comfortably and be healthy.

There is a lot of clothing that just doesn’t fit them and it is really important that there is sportswear for all shapes and sizes.

“It’s something that’s a strong part of what we do. I find that very passionate. I think the fashion industry is age appropriate and very unfair to anyone who is curvy or plus size or in a wheelchair or with prosthetics.

“We really have a lot of work to do around all of this. Gender specific clothing is also something that will be very important in the years to come.”

Ms. Steele is one of the notable artists who created two original artworks for the Incognito art auction to raise funds for the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

She is among 1,200 artists creating more than 3,200 artworks for €65 each.

Buyers must register on the Incognito website prior to the April 21 event. They find out the artist’s identity afterwards.

https://www.independent.ie/style/its-far-from-easy-producing-eco-friendly-fashion-says-designer-to-the-stars-helen-steele-41551910.html “It’s anything but easy to make eco-friendly fashion,” says designer Helen Steele

Fry Electronics Team

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