Toxic Threads: The Dark Side of Fashion

Refettorio Felix, Kensington | Wednesday 21st February, 7.00pm


Orsola De Castro (Fashion Revolution), Alex Noble (EMG Initiative), Dianjen Lin (The Sustainable Angle & Post Carbon Fashion) & Sophie Slater (Birdsong) 

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Image by Lea Marcaccini    -

The price of clothing has been decreasing for decades, while the human and environmental costs have grown dramatically. Join the pioneers of the sustainable fashion world this February as we uncover the true cost of our clothing throughout an evening of talks, panel discussions, Q&As, drinks, food and music. Joining us are Orsola De Castro (Fashion Revolution), Alex Noble (EMG Initiative), Sophie Slater (Birdsong) & Dian-Jen Lin (The Sustainable Angle & Post Carbon Fashion). 

The fashion industry has a devastating environmental and social impact on our planet. Pollution, unethical labour practices, deforestation, hydrocide, climate change, and ever-increasing waste generation has been intensified by the phenomenon of fast fashion. While it is crucial that fashion producers transform their business models given the industry’s strong growth trajectory, we, the consumers, hold immense power in our ability to vote with our pounds and demand ethical, just and environmentally-friendly clothing. The apparel sector has a pivotal role to play in the transition to a low-carbon economy and we must start challenging the status quo of unsustainable fashion and take meaningful steps towards a sustainable and ethical system.





7.30PM - TALKS PART 1: 

- ORSOLA DE CASTRO (Fashion Revolution): 'Why We Need a Fashion Revolution'

- SOPHIE SLATER (BIRDSONG): 'Creating Fashion from a Feminist and Holistic Perspective'

- Dian-jen Lin (The Sustainable Angle & Post-Carbon Fashion): 'Post-Carbon Fashion: Regenerative Sustainability Activism'

- ALEX NOBLE (EMG Initiative): 'Harnessing the Power of Creatives to Transform Fashion's Dark Side'


8.30PM - BREAK



10.30PM - END






Fashion Revolution


Bio: Orsola de Castro began up-cycling in 1997 with her original label, From Somewhere, the first to take luxury pre-consumer textile waste and re-make it into new collections. From Somewhere’s collaborations include Robe Di Kappa, Jigsaw, Speedo and Tesco (for which they won Best Fashion Accessory at the 2010 Observer Ethical Awards). In 2006, Orsola and her partner launched Esthetica at London Fashion Week under the British Fashion Council, to showcase labels designing sustainably. Recently, Orsola created Reclaim To Wear, resulting in collaborations with retailers such as Topshop as well as projects with Central Saint Martins and Hong Kong Design Institute. Orsola is associate lecturer for UAL as well as a guest speaker at many international symposiums (including Suzy Menkes’s IHT in 2010 and TEDx at the London Business School in 2013).

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EMG Initiative


Bio: Alex is a Creative Director, fashion designer and artist with a career spanning ten years in the fashion industry, which has seen him collaborate with leading fashion brands, charities and organisations such as MTV, Diesel, Selfridges and Evisu. He has  designed outfits for Florence and the Machine and Lady Gaga, shown his couture designs at London Fashion Week, exhibited internationally as an artist, and is now collaborating with TRAID for the TRAIDremade brand, producing a reclaimed textile street wear collection.

With his ethos of 'Creative input for a positive output', Alex launched the EMG Initiative, repurposing high end 'fashion waste' to create exclusive products that raise money for charity. Ambitious and unconventional with a creative diversity that’s seen his career grow from underground record label artist to a respected name in the creative industry. Never one to do things by half, showing independently at LFW, presenting solo art exhibitions and tackling the fashion industry head on by founding ethical fashion company the EMG Initiative, and now expanding his vision and palette to text as a fiction writer. Hailing from London, Alex Nobles fashion design and multi disciplinary art work has been seen all over the world.

Spotted by Nicola Formichetti Alex produced pieces for leading fashion editorials, magazine covers and commissions for Mugler and Diesel. This progressed to a longstanding collaboration with Lady Gaga and saw him go on to designing stage and video outfits for Florence Welch, Alison Goldfrapp, Laura Mvula, Kylie Minogue and Paloma Faith among others. MTV invited Alex to create experiential set designs, hold workshops and be a guest editor for their website with Swatch, a position that took him to LA to interview Hollywood actress and singer Juliette Lewis about creative process. He also created sets and environments for exhibitions and Glastonbury, Bestival and Lovebox festivals.

His own experiences lead him to question the negative aspects of the fashion industry, frustrated by its obsolete nature and a personal desire to work on the bigger issues effecting the world. Focusing on waste and exploitative production, Alex searched to find a better balance in his career, Founding the EMG Initiative collaborating with Traid, Childhope, The Rainbow Collective and Fashion Revolution has seen him hold workshops, talks, create collections from waste material and raise funds to obtain birth certificates of garment workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. His artwork moves anachronistically through mythology and science fiction to discuss cultural issues and ideas of existence using a multi disciplinary approach. Moving into story boarding and concept development for directors has taken him back to work for Mugler and introduced him to working for Bjork, collaborating with Warren DuPreez and Nick Thornton Jones on their productions. Now developing his own stories Alex is working on creating diverse narratives using audio, visual and the written word.

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Dian-Jen Lin

The Sustainable Angle & Post Carbon Fashion

Dian-Jen Lin


Bio: Dian-Jen Lin is an interdisciplinary designer with the academic rigour of a researcher, the analytical rationality of a scientist and the aesthetic sensitivity of an artist. With over 6 years of professional experience, she has worked across costume/fashion design, graphic design, filmmaking, photography, contemporary art and silver metalwork. In addition, she has participated in numerous short courses of multifaceted natures to acquire a broad skill set with unconventional intelligence and aptitude for creative communication and innovative thinking. 

As a graduate of one of the best fashion sustainability course — MA Fashion Futures from London College of Fashion, she is also the winner of Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion in 2017. She believes in harnessing the power of fashion to facilitate systematic paradigm shifts. After her studies, she continues to pursue the research in developing carbon positive materials with the Natural History Museum and the impact of design on consumer daily commodities with the Francis Crick Institue. “Design should always be drenched in sustainability and dignity” is the philosophy that has been pushing her trajectory towards ameliorating the status quo by proactive engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration.


Talk Description:  Post-Carbon Fashion is the winning project of Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion in 2017, it advocates a new understanding and approach to sustainability — Regenerative Sustainability Activism, which entails a proactive environmental engagement instead of passive mitigation or offset from an industrial entry point. One great example would be creating a textile that has pollution-purifying or photosynthetic properties. Based on this philosophy, Dian-Jen Lin embarked on her research of creating a post-carbon-emission material that can absorb the excess CO2 in the atmosphere while generating oxygen. Dian-Jen Lin will also share her freelance experiences with The Sustainable Angle and how the future of fashion can prosper based on disruptive yet critical design methodologies and genre-bending collaborations.





Bio: Sophie is co-founder of Birdsong. She is also a facilitator for feminist charity, Fearless Futures.Birdsong is an ethical online marketplace selling fashion made by women's groups. They work on a promise of “no sweatshops & no photoshop”. Sophie met her business partner Sarah in 2014, and they started selling things made by women at the charities they worked with online. They used their friends and activists as models, decided that they didn’t need airbrushing, blogged about feminism, and came up with a catchy slogan for what they do. They got a bunch of grants, customers came flocking, and head knitter Edna was even featured on the BBC. Now they’ve sold in 18 different countries, been featured in press across four continents, and raised a successful crowdfunding campaign. Birdsong wants to revolutionise the way you dress. All their clothes are made by women’s groups with rare skills, creating wearable pieces with a mind to the future. From migrant seamstresses to knitting grannies, Birdsong connects women from worker to wearer.

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