Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion, an approach which produces clothes that are made to last and are not disposable. “Natascha Bankart” is a new fashion business based in Oundle that focuses on producing sustainable clothing through slow fashion.
In recent years, the fashion industry has been scrutinised for its unsustainable practices, contributing to water pollution, carbon emissions and waste accumulation. Perhaps the best-known business model in the fashion industry is “fast-fashion”, a practice which rapidly produces high volumes of clothing at low cost, and has had some of the worst effects on the environment. With climate change related problems now gaining more attention, sustainability is becoming an issue for consumers.
I sat down with Natascha to find out more about her business.
Natascha moved to Oundle when she joined Year 10 at Prince William School. She has always enjoyed needlework, having come from a creative family.
“I’ve always just liked sewing. My school holidays evolved around “what projects can I do?”. My family bought and renovated a house, and they had old curtains there, so I made a lot of clothes out of old curtains.”
“And I realised that I just love creating looks and fashion, and that’s what I really want to be doing.”
Natascha studied fashion, design, and technology at MMU Manchester. She graduated in 2017 and worked as a pattern cutter in Amsterdam for a year, working for designer brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. Then she started with a designer for a sustainable fashion supplier who mainly worked with organic cotton. Their main client was a German customer, and she designed kids’ clothes, women’s wear and accessories for three years.
Before long, she took the leap to start her own fashion business and create her own designs under her own label, which she markets on her website, nataschabankart.com.
Her business follows the slow fashion business model. She has the fabrics and designs ready, and will create a garment when someone places an order. To start off with she will be making all the garments herself.
Natascha’s clothes are a mixture of ready-to-wear and made-to-measure couture. Customers provide their measurements, so that the clothing is fitted to their sizing and has a more tailored look.
She has been working on her first Autumn/Winter collection and had a fashion show at her home in October. The designs for Natascha’s clothes begin with the fabrics.
For her first collection she has been inspired by fairy tales. “The collection is called ‘Awakening’,” she said. “I love draping, so the designs play around with that, and fairy tale drawings with a bit of Pre-Raphaelite influence.”
Natascha’s mum’s wardrobe from the 80s and 90s, with vintage designs from Laura Ashley, was raided and has been a source, along with some of the more aspirational greats.
“I like the high-end Alexander McQueen, Oscar de la Renta. I love anything where you can see the little details. It makes my heart sing. Vivienne Westwood is also a good one. I love her because she does a lot of draping. I worked as a pattern-cutter, so I do love something that’s cleverly cut.”
Natascha’s clothing line aspires to promote sustainable fashion and allow customers to invest in a garment that will last for more than a mere season and look special.
“I want to create garments for women that they feel comfortable in and can wear knowing that it’s made to fit them. I love the formal side of dressing, but with people used to running around in jogging bottoms now, I’m trying to find the mid-way point between being comfortable and looking put-together.”