Orsola de Castro was born in Rome Italy in 1966. She was the founder of From Somewhere, a company that made clothing from pieces of luxury material that had been recycled.
In 1997, she and her partner, Filippo Ricci, open an Estethica, an initiative in collaboration with the British Fashion Council which aims to showcase existing eco-fashion brands to become more resonant in the fashion world. She was working with several brands that recycled luxury collections for Jigsaw, Robe DiKappa, Tesco and Speedo.
She also started From Somewhere in 1997. Initially, She only adorned the items, such as knitting with interesting details around a hole in a cashmere cardigan, or she turns the old clothes into something that looked new again. At that time she felt funny about taking something that was not used and would be discarded and after upcycling, she could sell it back in some of the best stores in the world.
In 2001, she went to Miles, a factory in Vicenza, Italy, which made knitwear for designers such as Yves St Laurent, Chloe, and Karl Lagerfeld, and she saw much leftover fabric on the floor. She stunned and realized with that amount of garbage she could make interesting collections from the scratches.
The concept of fast fashion is very new at that time. When she moved to London from Italy in the 1980s, if you can’t afford to buy something, you will wait for that, but she says it’s not about having five dollars in your pocket and having to spend it, like now. Fashion is more democratic now, but she doesn’t like fast fashion because it’s a waste. Clothing must be made ethically and recycled in the right way so not to produce accumulated waste.
She took the concept of up-cycling – renewing things into superior values - to the high street. She designed two collections for Tesco with other eco designers by taking food scraps from a factory in Sri Lanka where Tesco produced her clothes and recycled the fabric. All of these clothes are made at Cooperativa Rinascere in Vicenza which helps rehabilitate disabled people and people with mental health problems.
The tailors who worked in them used to work for high-end fashion houses before they got sick and it was difficult for them to re-enter their profession. There was even one person who had clinical depression and was denied custody for her daughter because of this a few years ago.
Orsola de Castro and Her Design at the Oscar
In March 2010, she designed a beautiful Oscar Dress for Livia Firth, the wife of Colin Firth’s actor. She felt very happy to be part of the process. When film producer Livia Firth wore a dress from Somewhere at the Venice Biennale last September, it was the night Colin won the best actor.
She was told that the atmosphere at Cooperativa was like a soccer match. She was very excited because she made the dress and the dress became the center of attention at the event.
Tips from Orsola de Castro
Buy clothes because you really want them, don’t buy temporarily and will keep changing it all the time.
When you buy, always think that you will give it to someone else. That way you will buy high-quality product with the classic style.
Take the time to learn to sew and repair if your clothes are damaged. Sewing machines are very interesting objects and someone can be very creative with these clothes.
At home, her partner cut a plastic bottle and placed it inside the reservoir in the restroom. This bottle collects water and every day they can save about one liter of water.
Always support ethical fashion labels. She is a big fan of Christopher Raeburn, who makes clothes from recycled military uniforms and parachutes.
She also likes Nina Dolcetti shoes, Junky Styling and all the labels she shows in Estethica. This is important to show the public that ethical modes can compete with mainstream brands.
Those are the tips from the Orsola de Castro so you can be stylish without damaging the earth because if anyone can use the waste from fashion industry we don’t need to be the victim of fast fashion.