Valerie Goode (Design Pattern Cut Womenswear at London College of Fashion) launched her ethical womenswear brand Kitty Ferreira, after working for a year in mainstream fashion in China, and witnessing the pollution created by the industry…
What made you decide to study at London College of Fashion?
I am a born and bred Londoner, so London College of Fashion always had a special appeal to me.
What was the best thing LCF taught you? And did it help you prepare for life after?
I think we’re more commercially and technically minded than our Central Saint Martins cousins, so naturally that helped in the world of fashion business. It certainly helped to lay the foundations of my own business, understanding product development and generally knowing that I’d be doing less designing and more business administrative work.
What’s your favourite thing about London? And your favourite thing to do here?
London is a culturally rich city; so cosmopolitan that no other city in the world comes close. I love that I can easily experience different cultures either through foods, dance or simply meeting people; and then there’s the freedom to express yourself creatively through clothing, and nobody bats an eyelid.
My favourite thing to do in London is to experience dance from different cultures, from belly dancing or Kizomba to Salsa.
What inspired you to move towards ethical fashion?
I studied a continual professional development course at LCF in Supply Chain Management and Marketing which focused on sustainability, and was a real eye-opener. At the time I had been working as a designer for high street suppliers so didn’t think much of it in terms of it affecting my career. It wasn’t until I worked as a Senior Designer in China, a few years later, that it kicked in; witnessing the thick air pollution, I returned to the UK knowing that I needed to do things differently.
I started to look at more natural lifestyles, with my Caribbean late grandmother (whom the label is named after) being the first inspiration. I found she was upcycling long before it became a fashionable term.
What were the greatest challenges you have faced in sustainable fashion? And what have you learnt from them?
The initial challenge was sourcing and setting up my supply chain, as all the contacts I had made throughout my career over the last 10 years had become obsolete.
Secondly, communicating the ethical and sustainable message without sounding like a tree hugging hippy. Fortunately, I had decided quite early on that my brand would juxtapose city-chic with the natural world. I think Lucy Siegle from The Guardian has succinctly described the aesthetic of my brand the best in her latest article: “Goode makes clothes that are for boardroom activists rather than penniless heroes that climb up cooling towers…”
What does the future have in store for Kitty Ferreira?
The brand has won a couple of awards from the Royal College of Art and from Wrap.org.uk, so we’re working through being mentored by them as well as by the team at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. The long term vision is to develop the brand into a rival of non sustainable high street stores.
What advice would you give for any students and alumni interested in focussing more on sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion shouldn’t be about a fad nor trend, rather I approach it as a way of life and mind-set, practiced in a non-contrived manner by an older generation and in particular by those who have not originated from the Western world. From this stand point you see how developments within a capitalist and consumer rich society have created ‘throw- away’ consumers whilst affecting other nations negatively. It’s a very deep subject matter that involves stripping back many layers to find the crux of the problem. The solution is neither clear cut, yet this is where the excitement lies- many innovations in fabric, product development and in supply chain management can be created here.