Have you ever come across garments, where nothing but a short glimpse while scrolling through social media or walking down the streets was enough for you to pause, go back and look at it in more detail? When I took short notice of the almost fairy-tale looking color-palette of one of Aisling’s (pronounced Ash-Ling) garments, I could not help but to take a closer look! And I can tell you, it was certainly the right choice!
I stumbled across a variety of diverse textures that have appeared to be selected and put together, with such a precise attention to detail and consciousness, into a patchwork of colors textures and materials, that literally took my breath away. You can imagine my excitement, when I learned that Aisling Duffy’s Brand did not only seem to take an amazingly alternative approach to design but was also ethical and conscious business!
Here at NoKill we love to get to know independent designers’ whose garments show that an ethical approach to fashion does not have to compromise one’s creative horizon. Aisling Duffy certainly lets her clothes speak for themselves in this matter and in order to find out a little more about the Aisling Duffy brand and the inspirations behind her one-of-a-kind pieces we have asked her a few questions!
Have you always wanted to pursue a career in fashion and what has inspired your sustainable and unique approach to it?
I have always been interested in fashion and clothes for as long as I can remember. I began my career working in the textile industry as a print designer and segued into fashion a few years later. I found that I work really well on my own and always wanted to do something that I had a bit more creative control over.
I think I may have a unique approach to what I do because I entered the fashion industry in slightly different way then had I come from a traditional fashion background. It made me think a bit differently about what I was doing. I think it has always been a bit of ‘figure it out as I go’ for me. The textile element has always been very important part to me. Working with found fabrics, upcycled garments, second-hand materials has allowed me to create work in a sustainable way. In my personal life I try to make ethical choices and live in a way that causes the least harm or suffering to others and I always wanted to reflect those ethics in my business.
What would you say is the most valuable thing you have learned from your experience so far?
To be patient and to know what risks are worth taking.
What do you think are common misunderstandings about sustainable fashion?
I think it is often thought that shopping sustainably is expensive and that you need to buy from new sustainable brands but shopping second hand, at flea markets or car boots, swapping with friends and reusing what you already have are all ways of creating a sustainable wardrobe.
Tell us about your newest collection! What inspired it?
Summer 2021 is my newest full Collection of work. Following on from Winter 2020 I designed sleeveless ribbon tie baby doll dresses handmade with patchworked fabrics. I also designed some ruffle side bags and mini ruffle bags. Everything is handmade with no over production. Later mid-Summer I will be releasing more accessories and I hope to get my custom made-to-order section live on my website soon.
I find I am inspired by what I was wearing as a child in the ‘90s and how I was dressing as an alternative music obsessed kid in the early 2000s. I have always been inspired by music and subculture. I want to create the pieces that I would have loved to wear back then but couldn’t find!
What is your go to material when you are creating your garments? (e.g.recycled, upcycled, organic etc.)
90% of the fabrics I use in my collections are upcycled or vintage fabrics. The other 10% consists of my own printed designs which I print on sustainable fabrics. I like to mix the types of fabrics I use in each of my pieces. I might use sequinned fabrics, tulle, satins, hand painted and digitally printed fabrics together in one piece.
How would you describe your own style?
I would say that I have a very eclectic (personal) style. I have a mix of contemporary and vintage in my wardrobe. I like the ability to change between a vintage dress and boots one day to some joggers and a hoodie the next. I love styling and spend a lot of time going through my wardrobe creating outfit ideas from what I have.
If you could dress any person in the world, who would you choose and why?
There are a few that come to mind. Mostly Musicians as I have always loved stage costume and music video performances. I would love to dress Charli XCX or Hayley Williams as I admire them & their unique talent so much.
What do you think ethical businesses like yours can do to spread the word of sustainable fashion? I think one of the most important things you can do is create work that people want. And to show through your work that sustainable fashion is not boring and that it can be expressive, fun and colorful. I try not to let sustainability take centre stage in what I do because I want my work and how it looks to be what attracts people to it initially. I would hope that at some stage being sustainable is a normal practice for fashion labels. But as a side note I think taking part in worldwide events like Fashion Revolution and using your platform, regardless of its size, to spread awareness is a powerful tool too.
Tell us a little more about your design process
I will usually come up with a few ideas about products or garments that I want to create. I then begin by creating a pattern that I think might work and I do a few samples until I am happy with what I have made.
I then will choose my fabrics; I pull together fabrics I think work well together and begin to patchwork them together. This can take a long time and is one of the most time-consuming parts of my process. I make everything myself by hand from my small studio. I work alone which can be challenging and means I am limited by time.
I also design new prints and hand-painted designs for each collection that I incorporate into the patchworked fabrics.
The color palette of your collections is very particular and one of a kind. Are they inspired by anything specific?
I would say they are not inspired by anything in particular but yes color is very important to my work. I spend a long time deciding on color palettes of each piece and trying to make it fluid throughout a collection. This can be super hard especially when working with upcycled fabrics where you only have a small amount of each fabric.
I think color is a fundamental part of my work and creating pieces of work that have distinct color palettes is part of the visual language of my work.
What would you say are the next steps for your business and yourself?
I plan on continuing on growing at a small slow scale for now. I want to get to know my customer and what they want more before making any big steps.
I plan on moving more to a model of monthly website restocks or drops and I would like to incorporate a made-to-order model into my website soon. At some stage I would love to get help with the admin and day-to-day parts of running a business. It can be hard to try managing each part of a business on my own and I would love to have more time to dedicate to creating and making. Other than that, I would love to start doing more Pop-Ups and talks as soon as things start happening again as it provides a great opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and build a strong community.
–Nadine El Garhy
Photo Credits as found on Instagram: @annawphoto