From the beginning it’s been about strong empowered women who shine in our clothing, rather than trying to choose models that fit with a contemporary mainstream sense of aesthetic that does not reflect real life or real women in their incredible diversity. The models that we choose so far have always been our customers, women that work on the Haruka team, our friends, or women that live in this community. These are real women who really wear our clothes, not professional models. An integral part of the Haruka ethos and way of being is to celebrate women. This is reflected in the collections we offer, that are designed to fit all different body shapes. Women from all walks of life and all over the globe come into our shop here in Glastonbury. We could go on, but we think the pictures speak for themselves…
Here is a gallery of every single Haruka model and a sentence or two about who they are. We hope you enjoy this as much as we enjoyed curating it. It was so hard to narrow it down to just one image of everyone.
Above from left to right: My son Haruka and I, in Varanasi – in the early days. I am wearing the Ladak dress in raw silk. In the centre, Liddie Holt modelling the same dress. Finally, a more recent photo in Jaipur looking at veg dye swatches for future collections on my hotel balcony.
Clothes and fabrics are a form of expression and creativity. Textiles are an old, old language. Woven in homes and villages for thousands of years to signify expression and belonging as well as, obviously, for practical use.
I started my journey producing clothing more than fifteen years ago. At the time, I was living in Varanasi (India) a magical place of pilgrimage and prayer, also famous for hand woven silks and other incredible hand loom fabrics. I had made a friend, Kamu, a tailor who had inherited his father’s small shop in an alleyway called Bengali Tola that runs all the way behind the Ghats, parallel to the river Ganga. I started to explore designing and producing the clothes that I could see in my head and really wanted to wear, but could not find either in India or in the shops I knew back in England.
It turned out that other women, upon seeing the clothes I had made for myself, also wanted to wear the earthy, natural, well-tailored but feminine and minimalist, style of clothing that I was developing. So, Kamu and I embarked on making my first collection a reality. I sent it to my friend’s shop in Nottingham. The label I put on them was ‘Jasmine Fish,’ named after a goldfish I once had (don’t ask me why, I really don’t know!)
My vision has always been that the current clothes in the Haruka range fit together with the colours and shapes of those from previous and future years. But not as a totally fixed plan. I source a lot of my fabrics (not all) hunting and gathering in the fabric surplus market in Delhi. This is for a multitude of reasons. I love a good treasure hunt and I love the challenge. But also, I am using up fabrics that have already been created and discarded which means I am using what is already there. Re using and recycling. It also means I never know what I am going to find so it keeps me creating and it means the pieces that I make from these fabrics are all limited-edition pieces. They will not be made again. I design them to last.
Above from left to right: An Indian market scene, taken whilst hunting and gathering fabrics. In the centre, our new cotton knitted jersey, finally made it to the cutting table after being commissioned especially for Haruka. Lastly, Dot in the “My Bubble Dress”; one of the designs in our new transeasonal collection available now. https://haruka.co.uk/product-category/new-in/
Above from left to right: Ghanshayam, my friend and pattern cutter, working on the first sample of the Boho Dress, which is currently available in Hawthorn Red and Moss Green. https://haruka.co.uk/product/boho-maxi-dress-cotton-hawthorn-red/
In the centre, a shot of the factory where I make the Haruka bags. In this picture I am working with the pattern cutter there to lay the pattern on the fabric for each individual bag. Finally, Ambika modelling the final outcome, one of our classic Haruka bags in a Tribal design. The production of which…. is a whole other story!
To be honest, I rarely know what is ‘in fashion’ from season to season. Haruka takes inspiration from women’s bodies and women’s stories; tribal style and the hand feel and drape of the fabrics I find. They have their own story to reveal, just as the women who wear my clothes do. I want the clothes that I design to encourage and inspire women to express themselves.
Above from left to right: the Moss Green cotton jersey on the cutting table in the small family run factory I work with in Rajasthan. In the centre, Gabby wearing one of the designs from this fabric; the swirl top. And finally Dot wearing the Blue Butterfly Trouser with Dorje Waistcoat in Desert Nomad. This is made from one of the fabrics I sourced in the Delhi surplus markets. I have a small amount of this fabric left in India; and will make a few more pieces but after that, there will never be any more as I will never be able to get that exact fabric again. That’s one of the reasons my clothing is unique.
The soul of Haruka clothing is to Unfold Your Own Myth.
Thanks and Praises
LINKS TO THE NEW COLLECTION:
Last week we had a photoshoot of the Haruka New Collection for the website. The shoot focused on our new jersey fabric. A thick, knitted cotton. We have three colours; heather, indigo blue, and moss green. The weave is a marl, so it’s not a flat colour. We all love the gentle colour palette – Amanda says it reminds her of Scottish highland landscapes. Nature is always a big inspiration. It’s the first time we’ve used this fabric and it took two years to get it from concept to production to the shop floor! Now it’s finally here, this fabric is super high quality and will last a long time. We love the softness and the gorgeous earthy colours. It washes brilliantly, Wendy can testify to this – she has only taken her jersey bubble dress of to wash! It’s snuggley fabric (and a big bonus – it doesn’t need ironing! It’s amazing for that – it made the photo shoot so easy). I think it’s clear that all of us at Haruka are very excited.
The styles are gorgeous – we have brought back the swirl top with an exaggerated cowl to go over the head. And the most exciting – the Haruka bubble dress is back in a new form!
Planning the photo shoot firstly involved choosing models. Amanda has never used professional models for Haruka – only ever been friends, and women from the community. There’s this way that Haruka is an ever-growing family of women supporting each other and it means that there’s always a lot of gorgeous women of all ages to invite to model the clothes. There has never been a temptation to pigeon hole the Haruka look into one age group or body type – diversity is key! Amanda chose Dot and Gabby as the models this time, because they are polar opposite in many ways. Opposite age groups, different ethnicity, but they are both really funky women, and then it turns out they have the same birthday! Part of doing the shoot is to show that Haruka clothes are for all women.
Before the shoot day Amanda is always there putting the outfits together for a week beforehand, trying out combinations and colour matches. Dot came in to try on the clothes before the photo shoot to check for sizing, and she really reminded Amanda of what her job is as a designer. Dot looked so amazing in the clothes when she came for her trial, that Amanda remembered why she does what she does, and felt inspired all over again by her designs.
The photo shoot team was Amanda, Sophie Harrison helping, Luana was doing the hair and makeup, Gabby – model and DJ, and Dimitrius, photographer and artist. Dot was modelling, she is a seamstress so really understands textiles. Sophie Jenna was working in the shop downstairs but popping up to help with the shoot, and as a team of creatives and artists the day was full of fun and laughter and music – we hope it comes across how much fun we were having. We try to make the Haruka photo shoot a fun day with lots of work hard play hard and we try to show that in the photos.
Amanda and Sophie were styling the shoot but the models too, were choosing how to style their own outfits, and adding accessories that they feel suits the clothing or represents themselves. Individuality is celebrated! With the photo shoot, and with the Haruka brand in general, it feels really important to empower women to be themselves, to enjoy their bodies and their personalities and really own being who they are. The photo shoots we do for the clothes are an opportunity to be creative and to celebrate women! We really want to embrace the diversity of women who wear Haruka and celebrate each other and our differences!
If you have any photos of yourself in your favourite Haruka outfit, please send them to us at [email protected] as we would love to see them and share them on our social platforms!
Thank you for reading
Unfold your own myth
Sophie Jenna and Amanda x
My ethical clothing brand, Haruka, has always been slow fashion, even before that was a concept. I believe in trans-seasonal clothes that can layer and last. Slow fashion is about really valuing clothing and having fun, finding your own expression through textile and colour, shape and style.
Clothes – like cars, technology, and so many other products in this consumerist society, are no longer designed to be cherished, to last or to be repaired. If you want to embrace a more ethical approach, then here are my ideas for making slow fashion part of your life.
One: Focus on what you love:
Slow fashion is not about never having new stuff; it is about having things that last and that are an investment; something to keep and love. Rather than feeling guilty about wanting new clothes, focus on what you’d really love to wear.
Buying from a smaller, independent designer or vintage shop that has things you love is so much more heart warming (and like finding treasure) than buying from a high street giant. Buying a beautiful hand woven textile or shawl gives me so much aesthetic and textural stimulation!
Two: Style over fashion
I love, and often use, the words ‘Unfold Your Own Myth’. This is one of the guiding concepts behind the Haruka label: Be yourself, unfold yourself, create your own story. Be strong in your power and your path. Whether that expression comes through as elegant, or quirky, earthy or funky, it’s about individual expression and empowerment rather than the corporate driven shallow tides of high street fashion. I want to provide tools to empower each woman to find what feels good for her, as she naturally is.
Gianni Versace said “Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live.” Slow fashion is about embracing your personal style, more than that, it is about embracing your own spirit, self and what you believe is important in the world right now.
Three: Shop new and old
Slow fashion is about unearthing amazing pieces that you love. I love mixing beautiful slow fashion pieces alongside clothes bought second hand in charity shops (which, by the way, used to be so much more exciting before they, too, became filled with high street fast fashion AND before there were so many of them as the advent of supermarkets put many of our village food and hardware shops out of business). Slow fashion is about reusing and recycling including bringing new life to vintage or pre-loved clothes .
Charity shops not your thing? The younger generation is now heading to Depop for a more ethical and affordable shopping fix. The exponential growth of Depop ( https://www.depop.com/ ) is an indication of a growing trend towards re-usage and upcycling.
Four: Shop independent
The seasons and the time scales of fast fashion on the high street are insane! How on earth would I fit anything like that into my life? And why would I want to?
The high street is designed to make you shop, to make you believe that constant change and consumption is the only option. Independents have a whole different perspective.
I have had a shop in Glastonbury for over ten years now, run by myself and an incredible team of women. To me, slow fashion is about having some sense of community and connection. This brings value, significance and context to things. A community of women supporting women has always been a big part of the Haruka vibe.
My shop – like so many other independents – is filled not only with clothes but with soul, beauty and sisterhood. Buying clothes should be a delight, not a fast paced chore. If you want to love your clothes, and keep them for years, seek out independent shops that share your thrill in finding a gem.
If you aren’t lucky enough to live near Glastonbury or somewhere with quirky independents, then look online. Try Etsy, an incredible platform to find special things that people all over the world have put heart, care and attention into designing, making, producing, photographing, curating and selling.
Five: Shop quality
Greenpeace states that by ‘doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces emissions over the year by 24%’. ( Black Friday: Greenpeace calls timeout for fast fashion ) Slow fashion has a strong environmental as well as ethical imperative. Rejecting the fast fashion mentality also means focusing on quality: buying clothes that are designed to last, that are made in fabrics that will wash and wear in.
To me slow fashion is a way of life: I love the clothes I wear, I buy things that express my personal style, I mix old and new, sourced in independent shops that nurture my soul and I buy great quality, beautiful garments that I’m going to love for years.
And the by product? A wardrobe of treasures, a slower pace of consumption and waste, and a more true sense of identity and self expression.
Thank you for reading
One love, Amanda X