Ümran Aysan has swiftly become one of my favourite ethical fashion designers! This London-based Turkish designer is the embodiment of ethical luxury: slow and conscious production of magnificent refined garments through the preservation of traditional craftsmanship. This brand promotes sustainability and transparency throughout the entire design and development process, taking into consideration environmental concerns and social responsibility.
Ümran Aysan had been a graphic designer for 10 years when she realised that she wanted to design for fashion. She gave up her day job to study fashion design and got involved in full fashion design and product development life cycle. In an interview with Mayshad Woman Magazine Aysan shared her turning point to ethical fashion, “the more I got involved in product development the more I started questioning the ethics of fashion manufacturing and fashion consumption. It eventually became apparent to me that this production and consumption cycle cannot be sustained neither socially nor environmentally. I had an irresistible urge to contribute to fixing this.”
Many of her pieces, such as the cotton kaftan dress worn in these photos (and a silk kimono which I wore in a previous post), are embellished with large detailed handmade needle lace trims handwoven in Turkey by local artisans. Needle lace is a type of lace created using a needle and thread to stitch up hundreds of small stitches to form the lace itself. The type of needle lace used by this designer is an ancient technique which originated in Turkey, and is dear to Aysan’s heritage. This technique has no fixed patterns and the makers improvise according to their imagination and self expression. This lace type is highly durable and will not unravel if one or more loops are broken.
Aysan’s quest towards a fairer world strives to ensure the improvement and livelihood of artisan communities, as well as passing down artisanal heritage to next generations.
“Artefacts of craftsmanship, especially those made by traditional methods, inspire me. I find them real and timeless. They have stories that speak to you. They show you the bond between the people and the nature. Yet, these traditional methods are disappearing. There is simply not enough demand for them to survive. They need to continue evolving in terms of aesthetics and usage as they had done so for many centuries. Unfortunately today’s pace of change is too quick for them to adapt. I wanted to show their uniqueness to the rest of the world by incorporating them in modern items.Ancient Caria, located in today’s Aegean Region had a big influence on me. I spiritually grew up there. It has such a wonderful climate. Land is so fertile. Living is almost effortless. It’s been a great source of inspiration for me. Starting with resort wear was a natural medium for me to create exciting products with least environmental and most social impact, and, very importantly, have those products enjoyed and appreciated by their consumers. This journey helped me realise that fashion design is tool to I express my creativity, while sustainability and resort wear are the means I contribute to environmental and social well-being.”
– Ümran Aysan, Mayshad Woman Magazine
The gorgeous kaftan dress I am wearing in the photos is made using organic cotton fibre sourced from certified organic cotton mills in India, the fabric is then made in Turkey. It features a relaxed silhouette, side slits, two hidden side pockets, a V-neck front and back, and is edged with hand-made detailed traditional needle lace. This beauty retails at £380 and can be purchased HERE.
I absolutely love the print on this dress – the mixture of blue and white evokes the feeling of waves crashing on the shore. The light weight relaxed fit is both comfortable and flattering, even for us shorties! (I am 5’2 and the kaftan falls right on my knees). I can’t wait to wear this laid-back timeless kaftan for seaside getaways over and over again!
Ümran Aysan has been awarded the Positive Luxury “Butterfly Mark”, a mark that helps consumers identify brands that take on social and environmental commitments. To read more about Ümran Aysan’s positive actions towards a fairer luxury industry click HERE.
Photos were taken in Imerovigli, Santorini.
Umran Aysan sent me this piece for review and the product is genuinely loved! Help support brands that support the environment to make it a social norm to shop ethically. .