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Lace it up: Fashion designer Mariana Jungmann talks minimal waste and modern fashion

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Ethical fashion comes in all shapes and sizes. For Fashion Revolution Week we chat to Brazilian fashion designer Mariana Jungmann about how she combines traditional lace with modern laser cutting to create a minimal waste brand.

Georgina Wilson-Powell 25 April 2018

Mariana Jungmann's delicate but deft womenswear gives traditional lace a 21st century tech update. In doing so, this innovative Brazilian designer has created a strong label that celebrates femininity with strength.

Mariana graduated London College of Fashion i 2014, starring in that year's show. A year later she was showing at London Fashion Week under the label, Mariana Jungmann, and her commitment to both stylish clothes and supporting social enterprises back in her native Brazil has seen her win and be nominated for various sustainability awards.

Her rise is proof that modern luxury labels don't need to contribute to textile waste, she designs everything with minimal waste in mind and uses recycled fabrics.

We catch up with her for Fashion Revolution Week to find out more about her unique take on ethical luxury.

Can you explain what Renascença is?

Renascença is a type of hand made lace that is woven by using a hand-sewing needle, ribbon and a special pillow. This very delicate and intricate lace is very traditional and widely practiced in the northeast of Brazil, I grew up seeing this lace in my family's home.

I eventually convinced a lace maker in Sao Paulo to teach me the technique. This particular lace can be used in homewares as well as garments, but for me it is a great source of inspiration and how I develop my laser cuts.

How did you decide to mix lace and laser cutting?

I learnt to make lace about 10 years ago, when I was in London doing my Masters. It was the first time I could experiment with a laser cutter so I did what I knew, I laser cut lace.

It took me an incredible amount of trial and error and it still challenges me every season, however I feel laser cutting the lace makes people more appreciative of the Renascença lace itself. 

Mariana Jungmann4

Lace doesn't need to be...lacey. Mariana Jungmann uses it like armour

Do you think the perception of sustainable fashion is changing?

It has changed a lot. I remember when I first started studying fashion and there were only a very limited number of ethical brands and most of them didn't have a strong and interesting aesthetics. 

Nowadays we have a much wider range of suppliers and fabrics we can use, which gave us designers more space to create something not only beautiful but also sustainable. 

Do you see an upturn in interest in ethical luxury?

I think people have become more aware of the impact their lifestyles are having on the environment. The Internet and the rise in social media have helped expose information on the matter, which spreads quickly! 

I believe this has helped people change the way they shop, becoming more aware and willing to make a conscious decision. You can see this is in a variety of markets including ethical luxury.

What's your take on new eco materials like Tencel and Pinatex?

I love eco materials and I am always searching for new ones. Right now most of my textiles come from Japan. We found a mill there that makes fabrics with recycled polyester, so basically they are giving a second life to all those millions of discarded water bottles.

(Click here for 7 fashion brands that have created collections from plastic water bottles).

How can we use fashion to keep traditional skills alive?

Fashion is a great way to keep traditional skills alive; in certain ways it is a very old school industry.

To make a beautiful and durable piece of clothing it requires a lot of craftsmanship – from tailoring, sewing, embroidery to hand made lace. It is all about the time and energy these very skilled people put into each garment.

How do you incorporate recycling into your ethos?

We do quite a bit of recycling. We work with recycled polyester and donate our offcuts to primary schools and non-profit organisations. This season we are printing our care labels from our offcuts too, this way we not only give things a second life but also working with minimum waste.

Mariana Jungmann ethical fashion designer
“Fashion is a great way to keep traditional skills alive; in certain ways it is a very old school industry”

How can we encourage more people to think about recycling when buying fashion?

The millennials are at the forefront of sustainable fashion, so have become quite smart on the recycling front. They customise, they donate and also they are more open to buy second hand garments. I think people should venture into this more.

(Click here for our expert guide on buying vintage fashion – and finding a bargain).

What do you think of Stella McCartney's approval of people selling her clothes second hand?

I think she is more then right to be totally on board, why not?

We should think about what we buy but also how we discard it and by selling it to someone else is a great way to keep a garment alive and also preserve the environment!

Is the zero waste movement having an impact on fashion design?

Yes it is. You see much more labels thinking about how to produce their garments and the impact it will have in our planet, so following the zero waste movement is a very good way to lower your impact.

Are we going to be able to change fast fashion consumption?

I would say so; if I did I wouldn't be doing what I do. I believe people are getting more conscious about what they buy and whom they buy it from. 

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