As the global interest in sustainability grows, a local designer is fighting to revolutionise fashion with her new clothing line. Henley-based Janice Greene launched her debut collection at the Old Fire Station Gallery on Thursday evening, showcasing an innovative range of garments crafted from organic wool, cotton and bamboo. Together with her business partner, Tim Werkhoven, Janice has created ‘Re-Volt.me Fashion’ — a venture to break our addiction to the corrupt, yet ubiquitous, fast fashion industry.
A year since the company was founded, the business duo are at last selling their ethical wares at their Old Fire Station Gallery exhibition, open until Tuesday 28th August. Development of the line began during Janice’s third year at Bucks New University, where she was studying Fashion and Knitwear Design. Using her final project as a backbone, the collection was manufactured and refined over the course of three months. Each woollen piece has been woven by Janice, emphasising the considerable time and care that has gone into its production. This level of consideration is rooted in the heart of the brand — all the materials used are certified with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). Janice explained, “They all have to be organic and ethically made by people that are paid well, because we are trying to minimise the apparel degradation. We would like people to be more aware of what they’re wearing, where it came from, how it’s made and who made it. It’s green fashion.”
Whilst sustainable materials are integral to the company’s mission, fellow director Tim Werkhoven revealed that they proved more difficult to source than anticipated. “One of the things that we learnt is that it’s very difficult to source sustainable material in the UK,” he noted. Despite the added challenge, the entrepreneurs were determined not to negotiate on the ethics of their products. “What you see here, all these garments, whether it’s wool or organic cotton, it’s all sourced from outside the UK,” said Tim. “It’s something that we can’t do anything about ourselves, but we do call on the producers in the UK to become more sustainable because then we’ll buy from them.”
This is the first fashion enterprise for London-based Mr Werkhoven, whose background is in business. However, his passion lies in conservation, inspiring him to do his MBA graduation project on a sustainable fashion company. It seems the perfect partnership for him to realise this idea with Janice Greene, whose matching enthusiasm for the environment is evident in her work. Even the designs were inspired by the beautiful natural surroundings of the town. “Mainly, when I do my project, I go around next to the Henley river,” Janice disclosed. “Anything to do with water or nature, I find it inspirational. A lot of inspiration came from Henley so it’s quite significant to me. I’m a Henley girl now — this is my home.”
The Re-Volt.me Fashion debut line features a range of different attire, effortlessly combining couture with comfort. Particularly popular at the launch evening was a grey jumpsuit made from bamboo. Mayor Glen Lambert was present to celebrate the launch, and was hugely impressed with Janice’s craftsmanship. “I’ve seen her work before — she put together a dress for Anna in 24 hours for the regatta — so I knew that she was a magician of sorts,” he said. “However, I didn’t realise she was actually making the fabrics themselves, not just piecing together fabrics but actually making it. She’s wonderful, and it’s brilliant.”
During their exhibition at the Old Fire Station Gallery, Janice and Tim are offering 25% off on all items. The products will then be available to purchase online via their website, which be continually updated with Janice’s new designs. “It’s going to be a long term project because it’s our mission to change the fashion world,” she declared. “People should buy more sustainable garments and ethical fashion, because we want to end slavery.” With their heart, and Janice’s talent, the dynamic duo are building a strong and radical case for sustainable clothing. As much as reusable cups and stainless steel straws, it’s this brand of slow fashion for which the world is in dire need.
The Re-Volt.me Fashion exhibition is now open at the Old Fire Station Gallery, continuing until Tuesday 28th August.