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Innovative biodegradable shoes win James Dyson Award’s New Zealand competition

Filed by Lucire staff/September 17, 2020/0.44


Lucire is the first fashion partner of UN Environment.

The New Zealand winner of the James Dyson Award is in the fashion sector: Rik Oithuis, a Massey University student, conceived his Voronui Runners, shoes that can be composted at the end of their life.
   Despite many labels trying to do the right thing by the environment—many of which have been profiled by this magazine, a UN Environment partner since 2003—92 million tonnes of textile waste is created each year. As detailed in Lucire, Abigail Beall at the BBC points out that this is ‘equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes’ arriving at a landfill every second. Only 12 per cent of the material for clothing is recycled, says Beall. Footwear is one of the culprits in the sector, with the James Dyson Foundation noting that since 1950, the amount of footwear globally has increased from 7,000 million to 23,000 million, with most shoes ending up in landfill. The average pair takes over 50 years to decompose, with footwear representing 1·4 per cent of global climate impacts. The footwear industry’s waste is increasing tenfold, note Theodoros Staikos and Shahin Rahimifard in their research.
   This makes Oithuis’s concept of a biodegradable shoe all the more important to our planet. He says, ‘Currently, footwear materials focus on performance, which is important, especially in runners. However, what isn’t being considered is what happens to the product once it’s no longer of use. The use of adhesives prevents the separation and treatment of materials at the end of the product’s life cycle. I was inspired to design a sneaker using only biodegradable materials with no adhesives—leading the future of sustainable footwear.’
   Oithuis developed a gelatine- and glycerine-based recipe for biodegradable foam, adding natural ingredients to strengthen the material, compress it, and make it more water-resistant. He then 3-D-printed a Voronoi structure using a biodegradable filament to form the skeleton of the sole and mid-sole. The upper was made from a merino wool fabric with 3-D-printed details. The heel and toe caps were inserted with a plant fibre reinforcement, then sewn shut and stitched.
   Runners-up included Massey University students Lisa Newman and Samantha Hughes, who created a hand tool to maintain clean cattle tails and a pædiatric urine sample collection device respectively.
   Rachel Brown, ONZM, founder and CEO of the Sustainable Business Network, Dr Michelle Dickinson, and engineer Sina Cotter Tait judged the national competition.
   Oithuis will receive a £2,000 award to develop his design. He, Newman and Hughes will go on to the international stage, where a top 20 will be selected by Dyson engineers. Sir James Dyson will select the international and sustainability winners from that group. The former will get a £30,000 prize and £5,000 going to their university, and the latter will receive £30,000. Winners will be announced on November 19.

 


New Zealand labels Ketz-ke and By Mishco show off designer masks

Filed by Lucire staff/August 31, 2020/23.12


Top and above: By Mishco’s limited-edition masks have proven to be strong sellers. Below left: Ketz-ke’s bold mask designs.

New Zealand label Ketz-ke, featured in Lucire KSA’s September 2020 issue, has, like numerous other fashion labels, created designer masks. Masks—as predicted in Victoria Whisker’s recent story—have become a fashion item, and Ketz-ke’s more than qualify, with their bold designs. They’re retailing at three for NZ$36·50.
   They’re not alone. A new label set up in August reached a milestone when it sold 50 limited-edition masks per hour. By Mishco, founded by Ayla Bligh, set up to provide work for six women made redundant or suffered reduced hours because of COVID-19, sold out of its limited-edition lines within a week.
   Bligh referred to recent statistics that revealed that over 90 per cent of the 11,000 redundancies in New Zealand during the second quarter of 2020 were faced by women. It was her aim to empower women and keeping production local.
   By Mishco has scaled up production of its cotton–linen blend masks to meet demand, and is launching a line of children’s masks. Locals can collect using contactless methods. The company sold through a Facebook group called Chooice and more information can be found at bymishco.co.nz.

 


Putting the brakes on fast fashion

Filed by Jack Yan/August 15, 2020/9.10

Lucire is UN Environment’s first fashion industry partner.

Abigail Beall’s statistics in a recent BBC report about clothing recycling make sobering reading. She writes, ‘Around 85% of all textiles thrown away in the US—roughly 13 million tonnes in 2017—are either dumped into landfill or burned. The average American has been estimated to throw away around 37kg of clothes every year. And globally, an estimated 92 million tonnes of textiles waste is created each year and the equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes ends up on landfill sites every second.’ Her other statistics show that only 12 per cent of the material for clothing gets recycled, and that the fashion industry is responsible for 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and 20 per cent of global waste water.
   Meanwhile, on the consumer end, our need for gratification (at least in the UK) has seen us buy 60 per cent more clothing than we did 15 years ago, and no one wants to wait six months after seeing something on the catwalk.
   Beall says that recycling is difficult because while there may be one dominant material, such as cotton, threads and labels are made from other materials. Jeans are usually made of cotton yarn blended with elastane. This makes them all difficult to recycle, and sorting textiles into different fibres is still usually done manually. Techniques to chemically separate blends without losing either natural or synthetic fibres are not yet scalable.
   And what’s donated to charity shops is now of poor quality, with most reaching Oxfam’s Wastesaver plant unsellable, and six tonnes a week are torn up to be used as cloths or stuffing.
   Many fashion labels are recognizing these difficulties, especially as consumers realize the harm the industry is causing the environment. Some have been choosing recycled materials, including ocean plastics that have been turned into new materials in clothes and shoes—over the years Lucire has devoted plenty of space to these. Others are inventing new, sustainable materials.
   There is some hope that the lockdowns that various countries have had to endure during the COVID-19 crisis might wake populations up to the preciousness of the environment. Many enjoyed watching nature return, something covered in an earlier issue of Lucire KSA. And, with many now opting to work from home—and companies adjusting to the new reality of allowing staff to work remotely—the need to dress up for the office has diminished. Casual clothes are very much the norm in many societies now. In such cases, people might not be quite as willing to push for the latest in attire if it isn’t going to be seen in public, and only in the virtual world. Might we embrace quality over novelty once more?
   Beall shows that the rise in consumption is a relatively recent phenomenon, something within living memory for most consumers. It can only be a good thing for the planet if we reduced our clothing consumption to the levels they were at 15 years ago, and even then labels were making money in the clothing business.
   We weren’t so obsessed with fast fashion, and while retailers like H&M and Zara were making headway around the world with cheaply made garments, there were still enough consumers happy to pay more for quality. Until 2004 there was a difference, too: high-end designer style hadn’t been democratized, not until Karl Lagerfeld began the first of many designer collaborations with H&M, giving rise to what this magazine called ‘accessible luxury’.
   We also weren’t as obsessed with the new. When Lucire was first established, some fashion labels were deeply wary of allowing online media to cover their catwalk shows. They were scared of counterfeiters: the sooner they could see something, the sooner the knock-offs would appear. The designers were used to having the advantage, and old media were willing to comply. Lucire, for its part, never ran the catwalk stories live: internet connections weren’t that great then, and neither was digital photography. By the time the film and prints got to New Zealand, and everything was manually laid out, there was a delay. But as coverage democratized, and as designers themselves delighted in showing every­thing live, often to “influencers” who beamed the shows instantaneously via social media, consumer demands also shifted. In an Instagramming generation, being seen with the latest is more vital than before—yet, again, one hopes that the perspective we’ve gained with the pandemic will put the brakes on that.
   We’re not exactly in Luddite position or pining for a return to the past. We’re excited about the innovations, such as Bionic, a polyester made from recycled shoreline waste that H&M, recognizing the shift, has promoted [Natalia Vodianova modelled one such dress three years ago, shown at top]; and the new sustainable materials that our clothes could be made from. But we would like to see the end of the race to the bottom which fast fashion and the insistence on novelty have driven, where garment workers are paid less and less to satisfy the profits of some brands and the appetites of some consumers.
   If we value good design, ethical sourcing and quality over novelty and low prices, then we may be able to reverse some of these frightening statistics. It might even be unfashionable, as the pandemic affects certain countries worse than others, to flaunt the fact you’ve been able to head out shopping (real or virtual) to get the newest. Influencers will need to find something else to promote.
   Even filmmakers are sensing it. The Michael Winterbottom-directed Steve Coogan–Isla Fisher comedy, Greed [covered earlier in Lucire], is a satirical tale about a thinly disguised version of Sir Philip Green, the head of Arcadia Group, who stood accused by British government committees of plundering British Home Stores while under his company’s control. Sir Philip also did not escape criticism in this magazine.
   Coogan plays Sir Richard ‘Greedy’ McCreadie, who spends his adult life pushing suppliers in Sri Lanka (with India standing in for the country in the film) into a race to the bottom. The last act wraps up the film neatly: namely that for all the lessons that we might have learned, the fictional McGready family ticks on, little changed. No, the outcome isn’t funny, but it is a call to action—it’s Winterbottom exercising pathos. Showing statistics about fast fashion, the income gap, and the single-digit earnings of Asian garment workers takes that one step further. Are we choosing to fund these lifestyles and the fast-fashion machine, or should we opt for the sort of designers often championed by this magazine, who work with Fair Trade, eschew seasons, and emphasize quality?
   With such a film part of our 2019–20 Zeitgeist, then it appears that we should call time on the excesses the industry has created, opening the door to those independent designers, many of whom have appeared in this magazine, who invest heart, creativity, and time to make quality fare.—Jack Yan, Publisher

 


Life in lockdown highlighted in British Photography Awards’ entries

Filed by Lucire staff/August 8, 2020/11.51







Mert Keçe

It’s no surprise that the pandemic is the subject to many of the entries for the British Photographic Assignment 2020, held by the British Photography Awards.
   The awards are open to UK residents and photographers of British nationality around the world, and are open till January 1, 2021.
   Mert Keçe’s The New Normal is a series featuring brick façades and individuals isolated in their homes. Said Keçe, ‘An ongoing series of photographs I’ve been working on during the pandemic inspired by a photo I’d taken of a stranger a couple days after lockdown was announced. The series aims to explore people adapting their way of life to being stuck indoors all day long because of the pandemic. A big thank you to everyone who participated in modelling for the project.’
   Earlier, photos by Claire Armitage released by the charity-oriented awards showed her teenage children coping with life in lockdown, in contrast to what she was witnessing on social media. The series was called There’s No Place Like Home. ‘Everyone has gone into this lockdown from a different place, but we’ve probably all gone into it in a state of shock in one way or another. I went into it already dealing with a particularly difficult bout of depression and also helping my children trying to deal with a number of challenges of their own, none of which are helped by this current, unknown and unprecedented situation,’ she said.
   ‘It was never meant to be a project, but isn’t that how so many start? I was having a particularly bad day and had switched off social media because whilst I was struggling to get out of bed and make my children food, there were all these people posting their children’s timetables and how wonderful it was to spend time together creating wonderful and amazing projects. As a good friend of mine put it, “If I see one more Mum who’s created the Terracotta Army out of plant pots with a five-year-old, I’ll scream,” because when you feel you are failing badly, everyone else’s “perfect lives” are hard to take, even when you know nothing is that perfect in reality.
   ‘This is also really hard for my children. They are teenagers and their parents are the last people they want to spend all their time with right now, but all of a sudden, they are stuck with us. Or rather, they are stuck in their rooms gaming, watching Netflix, and Facetiming mostly, so apart from dinner, I wanted to find something that gave us a moment of humour and some bonding time (even when they huffed about it); something we could collaborate on and maybe make us smile, even for five minutes. I am trying to find touch points with my teenagers that they will remember and enjoy … hopefully. It’s also about nostalgia for that innocence of toddlers playing hide and seek, who believe you can’t see them, if they can’t see you, this is the most fun.’
















Claire Armitage

 


Hoshinoya smartphone app monitors onsen crowd size

Filed by Lucire staff/July 1, 2020/10.59


Karuizawa, one of the 15 resorts where the new app is first deployed

In response to the coronavirus, Hoshinoya Resorts has rolled out a new smartphone app at 15 properties, which monitors the size of crowds at their popular onsen, public hot springs.
   Onsen, which is one of the highlights of going to a ryokan or resort, allows guests to release themselves from the stress of “stay-home” practices. But overcrowding can compromise the experience. Hoshino’s app will lead to safer and more comfortable use of the springs, as it creates an environment that avoids the occurrence of the “three Cs”: close contact, confined spaces, and crowded places.
   The app detects real-time crowd size via use of distance sensors which communicate with IoT-sensitive devices. The IoT device can count accurate numbers of people, make real-time connections between data and the cloud, adapt to different environments, and help guests stay informed of the optimal hours for onsen visits.
   Though Hoshino provides the download to guests, the information can easily be obtained through a web browser. But the innovative app is a convenience enabling visitors to read QR codes through their smartphones and to be informed in real-time about the perfect moment to immerse oneself in the healing waters.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

 


Maldives plans to open up July 15; Las Vegas says flights continue to increase

Filed by Lucire staff//8.30

We’re not entirely sure about the wisdom of some destinations telling us they are reopening, while COVID-19 is still very much present in our world.
   In a regular analysis by Lucire publisher Jack Yan, where infections as a percentage of tests done are analysed—a figure not adopted by mainstream media—there are some countries still with very high numbers.
   France, one European country opening up, still has a high (and rising) infection rate at 11·90 per cent at the time of writing, three times higher than Germany’s (3·62 per cent) and the UK’s (3·32 per cent). Sweden is on 13·19 per cent, and falling.
   The Maldives, on 4·69 per cent, tells Lucire that they will reopen on the 15th, with resorts and hotels on uninhabited islands accessible, while those on local islands open on August 1.
   Tourists do not need to pay extra, or produce a certificate showing that they are COVID-19-negative prior to entering the country. Those without symptoms will not be required to quarantine. Travellers will need to fill out a health declaration card on the inbound flight or at the airport, and those who have symptoms en route need to inform their Health Protection Agency. They are also advising those who have symptoms, and those who have had contact with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days not to travel there.
   Arrivals must wear masks and be thermal-screened, and physical distancing needs to be maintained.
   Those who arrive with symptoms will be given a PCR test at their own cost, then sent to isolation, either at the resort (if its policy allows) or a state-run facility.
   There is contact tracing and random testing, and a set of restrictions on inter-island travel.
   The other requirement is that travellers must have a confirmed booking with a Ministry of Tourism-registered establishment.
   When departing, tourists will undergo an exit screening, and symptomatic ones will be subject to a PCR test.
   Further updates are on their foreign affairs’ ministry website, www.foreign.gov.mv.
   Given that the Haj is cancelled this year, it is a brave step for the Maldives to open up for tourism again, especially while COVID-19 runs rampant in some countries.


Mark Damon/Las Vegas News Bureau

   Las Vegas, meanwhile, has sent us news that their summer flights continue to increase.
   This is up from 110 a day during the ‘lowest point of travel’ during the pandemic to 280 a day in July. By August, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors’ Authority forecasts the figure will rise to 330. This points to demand as well as ‘renewed confidence in air travel’, says the Authority.
   The US is on a falling national infection rate figure of 7·98 per cent; the state of Nevada is on 5·71 per cent.
   By comparison with other countries where Lucire has a notable readership, New Zealand sits on 0·38 per cent, and Australia on 0·32 per cent. European countries once considered hot spots, Italy and Spain, are on 4·46 and 5·44 per cent respectively.
   Potential travellers are advised to consult with their own country’s health authorities as well as the WHO’s website on COVID-19.

 


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