In the study...

Welcome to the new <br> STUDY 34

Welcome to the new
STUDY 34

Welcome back to STUDY 34 - it looks a little different to the last time you visited.

As a small business, being agile is key, and while the function of STUDY 34 may have changed slightly, what it stands for has not, and never will.

 

I believe it is our duty to treat our planet and all people on it respectfully.

I believe in the value, importance and power of the individual voice.

I believe in the people who seek a better way of doing things – often against the majority.

And I believe that a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle should be available to all.

 

For those who believe what I believe, STUDY 34 exists for YOU.

It is a place for those who, through their purchases, seek to empower and not exploit. 

Who want to celebrate diversity and individuality. 

And who want to access clothing that matches their values and beliefs simply and easily.

 

My mission is to continue to provide you with the inspiring stories behind brands, insights into the people bringing these clothes to life and information that is key to working towards a more responsible and sustainable fashion industry. 

At STUDY 34, I am championing a new style: one centred on knowledge and appreciation.

I hope you’re ready to discover and learn alongside me.

 

 

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Give Positive Luxury this Christmas

Give Positive Luxury this Christmas

Christmas: the annual gifting dilemma. What you want is something that fits your budget, is sure to please and has an awesome story behind it. I have three solutions at three price points and what links them is something special: Positive Luxury’s butterfly mark.

 

 

Positive Luxury’s stringent process evaluates brands across five areas:

  • Governance
  • Social framework
  • Environmental framework
  • Philanthropy
  • Innovation

To put it simply, to be on their books you need to care about people and the planet, not just your profits.

Positive Luxury represents 160 brands, ranging from the very small to the well known, and there really is something for everyone.

I’ve chosen three of my favourites to help you out this December. To kick things off, I’ll start with the usual Christmas suspect: skincare. 

Seascape Island Apothecary

Seascape Island Apothecary peppermint lip balm, £10

Seascape Island Apothecary are based in Hampshire and all their products are produced with ingredients from local producers on the island of Jersey.

What I love about this brand is the information they give you on all the ingredients. Their peppermint lip balm (pictured above) contains beeswax, peppermint oil, honey and jojoba seed oil.

Francois De Luyer’s apiary provides the beeswax for Seascape Island products

Peppermint oil has a “natural cooling effect” and also relieves skin irritations and inflammations. Beeswax has “antioxidant properties” and remains “biologically active when added to balms”, softening the skin and locking in moisture. Honey is a “natural healing agent with antiseptic and antibacterial properties”, to name just a few of its powers. And jojoba seed oil helps your skin heal.

That’s what I’d call a MEGA balm and I definitely haven’t come across something with so much authenticity for a tenner in a while. 

Penrose products

Penrose Products alpaca wool pillow, £49

Having been to Peru in October and fallen in love with the alpaca, finding a brand that uses this fibre in the UK is exciting. Based in Retford, Nottinghamshire, the team of only seven at Penrose manage everything, from paddock to product (all alpaca fibre is from the UK). 

All their bedding items are handmade and one of the company’s many visions is to raise awareness of textile manufacturing skills to the UK while developing a sustainable business centred around quality.

Penrose alpacas

Some interesting alpaca facts for you:

  • The fibre is unrivalled in its ability to regulate body temperature for a perfect night’s sleep.
  • Alpacas are comparatively carbon neutral animals – ten alpacas to one cow in terms of carbon footprint.
  • Due to its hollow nature, the fibre has excellent wicking properties, drawing moisture away from the body.

And one final note: all stitching on Penrose duvets goes right to the edge, so no floppy corners on your covers this Christmas.

Robe de Voyage

Okay, we’ve officially moved into pricier territory – but this robe is worth it. Robe de Voyage is new to the block, having only launched this year.

The fabric printing process in Delhi

The fabric used for this garment is woven in Bihar, East India. The founder, RCA graduate Jessica Linklater, says “India is a great place to find things”, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Khadi (handwoven cloth) suppliers proved hard to come by initially, but eventually a small community of traditional weavers was located, supported by NGOs who make sure they are paid fairly for their work.

The printing of the fabric in Delhi didn’t come without compromise. Jessica had to pay double in order to print small quantities while mixing the colours for printing in situ herself. 

She says of the development process, “It’s slow and variable because we are relying on eyes, hands and the weather. It’s quite temperamental so to be on the safe side, one has to allow six months”.

But boy are they worth the wait.

Robe de Voyage Long Zanzibar, £275

The timeless colours, perfect length and the unisex appeal of the Long Zanzibar (pictured above) make it my favourite.

What else is there to say, except “Dear Father Christmas…”?

Robe de Voyage packaging

So if you’re shopping last minute this Christmas, take a step back and ask yourself, how much do you know about what you’re buying? If it’s not enough, ask more questions and if in doubt rely on Positive Luxury’s butterfly mark. 

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas.

 

 
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Alpaca: The Ultimate Sustainable Luxury?

Alpaca: The Ultimate Sustainable Luxury?

A country steeped in skill and craftsmanship

Alpaca fibre, often touted as the new luxury, has been on my radar a while, but as a fibre with such foreign roots, it has had to remain a distant thought. A few weeks ago however, I was fortunate enough to be invited to Arequipa, Peru to improve my knowledge of its most prominent export and meet some of the country’s top spinning mills.

A yarn card from Inca Tops, one of Peru’s major spinning mills

It has been a long-term goal of mine to develop a fully sustainable and transparent supply chain. Having witnessed first hand the care and compassion of the Peruvian people towards their land, animals and ancient traditions, my trip certainly ignited a new feeling of hope.

‘Quality begins with people, not things’, a sign in a Peruvian factory I visited

The overwhelming impression I took away from my short trip was Peru’s deep sense of community, something that I think is undervalued in western society today. Leading mills like Michell Group and Inca Tops right down to the smaller players including La Republica del Tejido seek to work with local communities to preserve their knowledge and skills – and they all wanted to shout about it.

Alpaca Fibre

A Suri Alpaca, Arequipa

Peru hosts some 75% of the world’s total alpaca population, of which there are two kinds: the Huacayo and the Suri. The Huacayo, hardwearing and characterised by its fluffiness, is the more common variety, making up approximately 93% of the alpaca population. The rarer Suri (pictured above) makes up the rest and has a dreadlock type fleece with more silky fibres.

Re-creation of a breakdown of an alpaca fleece based on an explanation from Andrés Chaves at Inca Tops.

When an alpaca is sheared (once a year) the fibres are sorted by hand. These are then classified by their thickness and colour in a process that can never be mechanised as ‘the variable characteristics of the fibre can be assessed only by experienced hands and eyes’.

Fleece sorting, Arequipa

The wide range of natural colours afforded by the alpaca (not found among any other natural fibres) encourages less dying, which in turn results in less risk of damage to the environment. It is also non-flammable, has relatively high elasticity and strength, does not felt as readily as other animal fibres, has an excellent drape and natural lustre and is very soft to handle. It’s also easy to launder.

Living in an atmosphere where temperatures can fluctuate as much as 30˚C in one day, the alpaca possesses a high tolerance to temperature change, a quality which is transferred to clothing made with its fibre.

Clearly, this material packs a serious punch. But the animal itself also possesses extraordinary qualities to admire…

Sustainability

If we needed a lesson in a sustainable lifestyle, we might look to the alpaca for inspiration.

Alpaca tops, pre spinning

As one of the oldest domesticated animal species in the world, it was relocated from the more succulent pastures of the lower Andes regions at the time of the Spanish conquest, to higher mountainous areas with altitudes over 4000 metres above sea level. The alpaca was able to adapt to these less favourable living conditions and this adaptability is surely the key to its success:

‘It is precisely the reality of climate change, affecting particularly the habitat of the alpaca, that highlights one of the most interesting aspects of breeding these animals. The Andean glaciers have been shrinking faster and faster in recent decades. Weather cycles are now extremely variable and water resources will end up insufficient for the development of the impoverished high-altitude pastures. This is how the genetic adaptation of the alpaca, with its great capacity to live on poor pastures, its cushioned paws that do not damage the soil, and its peculiar manner of grazing without pulling plants up by the roots, plays an incomparable role in the conservation of these fragile ecosystems. No other animal could be kinder than the alpaca with regard to preserving the habitat of the high mountain regions of the Andes.’ - Alonso Burgos

An alpaca looks after the land it lives on and its breeder looks after the beloved animal it guards. So it is only right that we, as consumers, should treasure and value anything made from this supremely sustainable animal. 

But we should also follow its example, by looking after our own living environment, and adapting to its natural limitations by taking no more from it and putting no more into it than it can naturally sustain.

This article is also available on The Huffington Post UK 

 
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