Women all over the world have at least one purse, shoulder bag, or wallet made from leather. Almost everyone likes the softness and durability of leather, it lasts long and sometimes, most of the time, and it looks even better worn out and tired.
Leather like most fabric is somewhat questionable for reasons of morality. Although what else are we going to do with all the hides from the cows we eat? Might as well do something right. Using leather or hides date back longer than us Homo sapiens. So we can never really call it a ‘new trend’. Leather is produced to make shoes, couches, car seats, jackets, pants, wallets, and bags to name a few. Each piece is crafted into shapes, forms, and sizes. Like most materials in fashion, waste will occur. Its what you do with the waste that matters. From end of the roll, to scraps, to stuff that needs to just be repurposed. It takes a certain kind of artist to be able to create something out of someone else’s nothing.
Jolanta uses overstock leather and handcrafts it into wonderfully artistic hang bags and accessories.
Born in Lithuania, Jolanta made Vancouver her home after a few years of traveling. A self trained leather-worker with a business degree, she quickly realized, “I missed the great choice of well crafted and designed consumer goods, that most importantly, were made within the EU. Most consumer (or high-street) fashion in North America is produced over seas, and has a somewhat uniform look, quality and short life to it.” Not comfortable supporting the actions of our North American ‘fast fashion’ world of quantity over quality, she, “Completely stopped shopping for a long while, till I discovered local B.C. brands and what they do.”
Never having sewn leather before she constructed her first bag in 2009, the end result went over so well she couldn’t help but make more. Taking inspiration from the Old world and history of her heritage.
The more and more I talk to fashion designers I find that the majority of them find inspiration in nature, not unlike Jolanta. “Nature, it’s forms, movements and surfaces, that help to unravel the ergonomics of an item I am building. Nature has so many extremely smart solutions, that make things work and sometimes, the materials themselves dictate what’s going to happen.”
Much like a vulture searching for unwanted remains from upholsters, or garment makers whom discard or throw away perfectly good pieces of leather. As rescued leather is Jolanta’s fabric of choice, she sources out anything that would work with her ideas, from liquidated hides, recycled donated leather garments, but also re-works wool and denim. Thus creating a personalized one of a kind product as she may only come across small pieces of raw material never to be found again.
"I am hoping, that the positive changes in the industry outweigh the negative. Many big mainstream labels have noticed that the indies have achieved success in educating the shopper about fair wages, minimizing waste, even bringing the manufacturing back to the West.They started using sustainable materials to produce their garments, more are becoming cruelty free, or choosing their sub-contractors carefully. I hope, the industry gets educated, and all fashion will be at least more, Eco..."
Living and working in Gastown, she’ll only be a stones throw away from Eco Fashion Week. Which may be part of the reason for them sourcing out such an artist. Both Jolanta and EFW are trying to educated buyers and designers that only we can make a difference in how we purchase and who we support. “EFW are not trying to cover anything up, they work with brands, that are green, rather than ‘Green-wash’ ones that are not. I admire that.”
Jolanta’s repurposed leather works of art can be purchased on her website, at the studio, Bloom market, Make it Vancouver, and local boutiques like: Dream, Favourite Gifts, Blushing Boutique, Two of Hearts Boutique, Poppyhair, and of course EFW’s own ‘The Window’. October 5-7 from 2-9pm.
Come down and join us in welcoming another great designer to the Eco Fashion Weeks Vancouver roster.
Thanks Jola V.Designs for your drive to create a more conscious industry.
Information provided by Jolanta herself and jolavdesigns.com