The Ladybug “s’en fout” – not really!

“Made in Bangladesh” as a synonym of sustainable fashion? Yes, it is possible!

It may sound strange but this is not only possible, it is the reality of a (former) small boutique in London: The Jacksons.

Their boutique in Notting Hill was born in 1998, from the idea of two sisters: former fashion PR Joey and costumer designer Louise Jackson. The shop is full of colored and sustainable pieces but it is when they are introduced to a man who had worked as a VSO in Bangladesh that they created their first jute bag (in 2012). It has become now a glorious design collaboration between The Jacksons’ and the skillful handcraft workers in south-west Bangladesh, creating not only the beautiful and durable hand-crafted jute “word-bags” but also humorous and colorful placemats and beaded purses.

We have grown from a workforce of less than 100 women to over 1000 artisans in South West Bangladesh, an area where there are few job opportunities for them.  We are also working with small communities of artisans in other parts of Bangladesh. All of these teams are predominantly made up of women, who are paid directly giving them independence and status, empowering them to make decisions within the family. This is helping The Jackson’s fulfil a mission close to their hearts – to create as many job opportunities as possible” – they write on their website.

Their sustainable collaboration is in the middle between fair trade and a sustainable project as their mission has many positive aspects:

  • Great attention to handcrafted work
  • Use of natural fibers (such as the juta)
  • Recycling of waste materials
  • Work conditions that protect workers without exploitation
  •  Fair salary that permits a dignified lifestyle
  • No intermediaries but direct payment to the workers
  • Social inclusion of women through work
  • Attention to the resources used and low environmental impact

The juta bag had a huge success and they are very trendy in summertime, which means that they are often copied without having the rights to do it and under completely different conditions. When we want to buy these bags, let’s go for the originals, even if they are not super cheap. Now we know what lies behind the price, so we have no excuses to go for a cheaper version. As conscious consumers we should always ask ourselves the correct question: “Why is it so cheap”?

My bag “Je m’en fous” is a limited editions created exclusively for Wait and See the lovely Milanese shop where they are sold. My Indian dress is a new second hand piece from Girls in the Garage in Milan.

The golden gladiator sandals are old thrifted Miu Miu, Africa ring is handmade in Senegal.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug in a vintage daisy field!

When I saw this little vintage silk dress full of colored daisies on Vinted I madly fell in love. The pattern and the shape were so cute and unusual that I didn’t think twice: I made an offer to buy it. The transaction itself was very pleasant: the French girl who sold it was having a huge clear out with her sisters and she told me the story of this dress that was coming from their grandma’s closet in Normandy. When I received it, it was even nicer than in pictures and the silk was fantastic, I couldn’t be prouder of my vintage find!

It was so easy to style it, because the print made it all: I love when dresses can be so easy because they really go with everything and for every occasion: I wore it for the first time at the office, then I wore it for an aperitivo with my friends and now I am wearing it for a second hand shopping session in Milan on a Saturday morning.

I wanted to re-create a vintage 50s style, even if the dress is a late 70s piece. This is a clear example of the fact that you don’t need to wear clothes of the 50s to create a 50s style: not only the dress is from another era, but also the other pieces that I am wearing here are not pieces from the 50s:

  • The golden chain belt is a vintage piece from the 80s that I found at Bottega Rossa in Milan;
  • The daisy earrings are deadstock pieces from the late 60s that I found at Sabrina Manin Vintage in Milan
  • The Yves Saint Laurent golden sandals are a vintage piece from the late 80s found at Bivio in Milan
  • The green rattan bag is a vintage piece from the 70s found at A rebours Vintage in Milan
  • The handmade turban is a modern handmade piece from Madame Ilary

Could you tell?

Imagination is the only criteria to create the perfect vintage style of your dreams!

women dresses

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug and the demons of fast fashion: some ideas to deal with these pieces in our closet

Warning: very honest post!

This disclaimer is very important, because as many of us having started a path towards sustainable fashion, it is hard to confess the horrible truth: we all (mostly) were fast fashion addicts. And the demons of Zara, Mango, H&M etc. are still hanging in our closet.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in my opinion: as we used to live in that world we know very well what it is and we just decided to step away from cheap clothes and materials, homologated fashion, human and resources’ exploitation; why should we be ashamed of this?

Of course I am not happy when I see these pieces staring at me and they really feel like demons in my closet but hey, better stay there than polluting the world in a rubbish dump! This is very important to understand: when we are fed up of fast fashion, the biggest mistake than we can make is to throw it away! As they are mostly made of plastic and polluting fibers, throwing them away is the less sustainable choice to make.

Let me then share some of the alternatives to throwing away our fast fashion pieces:

  1. Just keep them! I know, we don’t like them anymore, they don’t reflect our values and sense of fashion, but we can definitely find a way to style them with other pieces that fit more our personal style. This is basically what I did in these pictures: I took my fast fashion top and culottes (I don’t like them anymore!) and styled them to fit my very own style! I mixed them with vintage pieces (the Valentino headscarf from Humana Vintage, the bag from Lady Fusetti) and handmade pieces (the bag from Anna su Misura, the Japanese handmade sandals, the bangle from a Togolese artist that I met through Mara Seyeyaram). When I look at this outfit I’m quite proud of how I turned these two hated pieces into something that is in line with my style!
  2. Rework them! If you have good sewing skills you can easily create new pieces from your fast fashion clothes: scarves, turbans, new clothes. You can free your imagination and upcycle them the way you like! Upcycling is very trendy at the moment but mostly it is a very sustainable way to get rid of your cheap clothes by giving them a second chance.
  3. If you really don’t want to see them anymore you can still donate them! To friends, family or strangers. There are a lot of charities who will take them to give them to people who need them in your country or abroad. This is a good alternative because not only you are prolonging the life of these clothes without throwing them, but you also know that with them you can help people in need.
  4. Sell them! If you need small money and you think that your pieces may be sold, just go for it! There are so many ways to do it: online with many apps like Vinted, Depop and Ebay where you can easily sell your stuff, or sites like greenchic or maimesso (in case you never worn them), depending on how lazy you are to take pictures, write descriptions etc. You can also sell them live: garage sales and swap parties are always a good option to get rid of these pieces. The only thing when we sell or swap is that we can only hope that those who buy them, will wear them for real and not throw them after a few wears (it’s still a concrete risk).

Which one is your favorite option? I personally make a mix of them, some pieces I keep and re-style them or re-work them (or make them re-worked by someone who has better sewing skills than mine!); other pieces I sell or donate to a couple of charities in Milan that I know.

But please, don’t throw them in the bin!

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug’s weapon against the heat: vintage fashion!

Spending summer in a city far away from the seaside can be very hard sometimes.

Milan is one of the hottest Italian cities in summer and the heat can be unbearable without relief for weeks; the stuffiness is almost constant in July and you need tangible weapons against this heat, especially when you have to go around in the hottest hours of the day.

I found my personal weapon in vintage clothes! When the heat becomes unbearable I say goodbye to synthetics and I only wear cotton and linen fibers as they are a real barrier for the body, especially if they are vintage. The reason is simple: fibers were produced in a different way in the past and the difference is not only visible or touchable, it is very clear in this warm weather. They are less aggressive and it is easy to let the body breathe when wearing them: green light for these pieces then when the season is too hot as they are a true relief compared to the synthetic fibers!

These pictures were taken during one of the hottest days since the beginning of summer: I had some meetings in town and I really needed something easy and fresh to resist the heat of that day!

Then I wore my vintage white linen embroidered blouse from Freja Vintage (I found it on Vinted): this piece is not only fresh and pleasant on the skin, it is also incredibly beautiful! I love the deep embroidery on the neck that makes it really old style and sexy at the same time!

I wore a pair of large silky handmade black trousers from Madame Ilary (my passe-partout trousers!) and my super Marni fluffy orange sandals (best sample sale find ever!), perfect piece to add color and jap style to a simple outfit!

I completed the outfit with a vintage Cartier shoulder bag from Gray Vintage and my favorite vintage pendant necklace from Live In Vintage in Milan. Rings are vintage + eye ring from Crazy Pig Designs in London.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug brings back the frock coat (tailcoat) and makes it feminine

When I showed how to style a vintage frock coat (tailcoat) on Instagram for the first time, I received a lot of comments that made me realize how incredible this piece still is in the current common imagination, although it is very rare to see it worn, except for specific ceremonies, and almost uniquely by men.

Nevertheless I feel that this is such an iconic piece also for women, especially when we think of Marlene Dietrich who used to wear it with a top hat and who made this type of coat wearable also by women who wanted to re-create her masculine style in the same feminine way.

But if we look at the story of this piece we can see that it was not a glamourous piece at all! The frock coat (which is originally from the French redingote) was born at the end of the 18th century for a typical countryside wear: it was in leather or wool and was inspired from military coats, with more or less the same shape that we know nowadays and it was conceived as a comfortable and functional piece. It was Lord Brummel (the first real dandy) who started using in as a glamourous piece, in navy blue with a large white tie at the beginning of the 19th century.

It starts its “career” as an elegant menswear piece only during the 19th century when it starts being worn by elegant men, at night, in black and with a white shirt changing a little bit its shape (shorter tails, tighter waist and collar). During the 20th century, especially after the Second World War it becomes the perfect piece for ceremonies and gala events even if mostly considered as a typical male jacket.

This is the reason why it is very hard to find a vintage frock jacket for women or at least that can fit a women body. This is also the reason why I have looked for it for so many years before finding my perfect frock coat. As I said on Instagram some time ago, it happened by chance and thanks to the precious help of Madame Ilary who found this perfect piece for me some time ago!

I know that it may feel hard to wear but believe me, it is not if you style it just like you would do with a normal blazer.

I am showing here two different alternatives to wear a vintage frock jacket:

  1. The easiest way, with a vintage Levi’s 501, a white tee and a pair of lovely handmade flats (from Le Funky Mama)
  2. The more difficult way (but really lovely in my humble opinion!), with a gingham black and white circle skirt (and its amazing tulle petticoat…what a piece! Both handmade from Madame Ilary), a white printed tee and a pair of statement sandals (these beige mules with feathers are gently provided by Madame Ilary herself).

Which one would you “dare” to wear?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug’s pleasure and pain: the leather dilemma!

When you start your journey towards a more conscious and sustainable way of dressing and buying clothes there will be many obstacles on the way! From the things that you like but you know they are not sustainable at all (this may happen a lot at the beginning, especially when you start your detox from Zara!) to the fabrics that you adore but you have to be very careful of, starting also a new path of knowledge and information regarding different textiles and their production (this type of obstacle usually starts later in your path when you become more sensitive to these topics).

The latter is the case that I want to share today, in particular my very huge obstacle regarding real leather.

When we discuss real leather the topic is so huge and complex that it is easy to be confused and honestly sometimes I still am! The factors to be considered are so many: terminology for example. Leather, real leather, faux leather, vegan leather, PU etc. but are we sure that we really know what we are talking about? Is vegan leather sustainable because it does not kill animals to be produced? Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, with an high environmental impact during the production and the disposal phase, then we cannot really say that it is a sustainable alternative to real leather. But it can also be made from innovative and sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste, and recycled plastic even if the prices for these pieces are often not really affordable due to the high production costs. Moreover, vegan leather is not very durable.

Other factors; transparency and environmental impact of the production cycle, use of water and other polluting chemical materials, animal exploitation etc. All these factors have to be considered to define some type of leather as sustainable.

However, the tanning sector is starting important changes to make its production more transparent and sustainable also by introducing new quality certifications, thanks to the more conscious consumers who are really careful when it comes to sustainability, even in fashion (the tanning sector is one of the most polluting within the fashion industry).

While I try to understand how to deal with leather (because, hey I am a huge soft real leather fan!) I decided to go for the most sustainable, durable, charming and affordable leather that I know: the vintage one! The quality of this leather is excellent and makes it last for many decades ahead, it does not require new production and then it has a lower environmental impact.

I am wearing here very soft 80s vintage grey leather trousers from Roby Dagger at Remira Market and two second hand pieces: red and white striped shirt from Ambroeus in Milan and Ash sneakers from VInted.

(Leather!) round bag is and old Ottod’Ame piece from their store in Florence some years ago.

How do you deal with leather?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug dedicated outfit for (a quick) Milanese spring

We always complain that spring and autumn don’t exist anymore! It is true: we quickly go from summer to winter and the opposite and, even if I love spring and autumn because I can wear my best outfits, I realize I have a really short time to wear my favorite clothes combos, one of which is ankle boots and bare legs!

Before getting deeper into this topic, allow me a short disclaimer: I said ANKLE boots, because I am almost completely against knee boots with bare legs (except some very specific cases)!!!

For me ankle boots and bare legs, especially with dresses mean basically boho-chic style; it must not be necessarily a hippy style but it’s just a vibe that I love to maintain in my outfits and basically it’s only in spring and autumn that I can handle to wear ankle boots with bare legs: not too warm to need sandals but also not too cold to need tights (I hat tights too!).

This is a typical spring/autumn outfit that I would wear, totally sustainable (as usual!).

The starting point of the outfit is this wonderful 70s floral dress that can be worn loose or with a belt (as I did today; the belt is vintage from ND Second): it is from Notre Monde Vintage, a vintage boutique that I discovered lately with my great pleasure!

As the main color was navy blue, I decided to add all navy blue pieces: a 70s vintage spring coat from Humana Vintage and a huge touch of velvet, one of my favorite fabrics that I can wear basically in winter or in spring/summer as it is not a summer fabric at all. First piece, a very old handmade turban created by Madame Ilary for me many years ago with a beautiful vintage button as a decoration. Second one, a pair of handcrafted (in Italy) velvet ankle boots by Madame Cosette.

Have you noticed my tattoed hands? It is an incredible henna work by Laura (mehndi.la on Instagram) that I would have loved to last forever (speaking of boho vibes…)

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug is a vintage market enthusiast: why should we all be?

A few weeks ago I was getting dressed to meet some friends to visit an exhibit in Milan (Tina Modotti’s exhibition at Mudec Museum) and I suddenly realized that most of the pieces of my outfit were coming from a vintage market (one in particular actually, the Remira Market in Milan!).

It made me think that I definitely buy a lot of my stuff at vintage and second hand markets. So I listed a couple of reason for which I think we should all buy there:

  1. Because there are no massive marketing trends imposed by marketing gurus: in vintage and second hand what is “trendy” now really doesn’t matter!
  2. Because no one can tell me what to wear: I hate when in shops I receive non-requested advices on how I should dress; what I should wear and what they think it fits me better. In markets I am completely in charge of my own choices!
  3. Because I can free my imagination: with vintage and second hand pieces I can really imagine all kind of possible outfits, it could never fully happen with new clothes!
  4. Because I can find pieces that reflects my own personal style: I am a vintage gal, that’s my style. Period!
  5. Because they are circular and sustainable: it should be number one but also quite obvious I think; re-using and recycling clothes is almost the only possible choice in a polluted world also because of the fashion industry. Re-loving clothes is the most sustainable choice ever!
  6. Because I meet a lot of lovely people: I spend most of my time in markets chatting with vintage sellers about our common passion for vintage; also I know that they researched and curated those vintage pieces for me to find them and love them as they did before me!
  7. Because they inspire me: during the long times without markets I felt many times a deep lack of inspiration; I realized later that meeting people, seeing new clothes and outfits was one of my main sources of inspiration. Creativity is at the top when you meet other creative people!

These are just a few of the main reasons for my sustainable choice of buying at vintage and second hand markets, do you think that we should all do that? What is yours?

Outfit details:

  • Vintage black leather trench: Sugarmama Vintage at Remira Market
  • Vintage dress: Vintage Soul at Remira Market
  • Vintage bag: Revintage by Angela at Remira Market
  • Second hand Golden Goose ankle cowboy boots: on Ebay
  • Handmade turban: Madame Ilary
  • Handmade earrings: Made in Camper (in some other market in Milan!)

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug on mixing African prints and vintage

After two weeks of tributes to Africa through its most known fabrics (it’s summer, that period of time when I can use them almost all the time!) here I am to give you a couple of easy tips to wear them with my other big fashion crush: vintage!

I love the combo of African prints and vintage because I think that it represents very well my own personality and taste, then it is not rare that I mix those two things!

I just pay attention to mix them and not just make them crash! What I mean is that African prints are very bold, they are by definition statement pieces and even if I love to mix different African patterns (always do it carefully though!) it is a bit harder to mix them with vintage because vintage pieces are quite bold too!

So my first and most important advice is to mix them with more simple pieces, just to start; when you will get used you can start trying a soft mix of prints and shapes with vintage too!

I strongly recommend to mix African prints with vintage pieces without specific patterns, it’s better to use a one-colour piece, better if the same color is part of the African print pattern.

That’s exactly what I did with this wax + vintage combo: the trousers and the coordinated turban (handmade with love by Madame Ilary with a fabric that I bought in Senegal during my first trip) are basically in red and yellow then I decided to pair them with a red vintage silk shirt (from Maison Retro Vintage). If in doubt, go for plain colors like black or white that can match it all!

A very interesting thing that you can notice here is that I added a second vintage piece, the Gucci vintage Ophidia bag whose tan color can easily adapt bold prints. (Let’s be honest a vintage Gucci bag goes with literally everything!!).

Same thing for the shoes, not vintage (a pair of super comfy sandals from Clark) but again in tan color to keep it safe! Simple and delicate brass earrings are also handmade from Metalica Creazioni.

I hope you liked my combo but I want to hear from you: how would mix African prints and vintage?

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

The Ladybug’s tribute to Africa (and Dakar) pt.2

Last week you found here my personal tribute to Africa and to my granny (who introduced me to this continent and made me love it since I was a kid) through an outfit that expressed all this love.

I prepared another one for you, very similar but with a more specific tribute to my second home, Senegal and Dakar in particular.

Let’s start with another tee from the same black-owned business that I introduced you to last week: Original X Creation. Their tees with African related quotes, graphics and subjects are amazing and it will be hard to pick one if you visit their online store on Afrikrea, my favorite fashion and accessories market-place for everything African-handmade.

I loved this tee because, even if it says “Somewhere in Africa” the image in the background can be only one place in Africa: Dakar! Do you recognize the typical “car rapide”, the colored public buses that I showed you more than once here? I loved this sweet wink to the Dakar lovers (or addicts!) and I also love that I can recognize them when I wear this tee!

I wore it with another skirt-turban combo created by Madame Ilary with this beautiful fabric that I bought in a Dakar market during my last visit, in November 2019 (actually my last trip abroad before the pandemic situation…). With the same fabric Naomi, the talented creator of Dogocolor, made a lovely pair of earrings that I am not wearing here.

Vintage touch: my 2000s yellow squared sandals that I got from Blondie Vintage (I love these sandals so much, their shape and color are so good!).

Big bold hoop earrings (another tribute to African women) are from Gogo Philip, rings are handmade from an amazing Neapolitan jewelry maker (you can find them at Madame Ilary showroom in Milan) and a Senegalese artist in Dakar.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.