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Behind the brand: the designer who is making luxury sustainable

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Edward Mongzar is a fashion designer whose label is committed to creating luxury but sustainable fashion. Here he takes us behind the brand and talks about everything from getting inspiration from his mother to the importance of university.

Image courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

A history in fashion:

Edward tells me how he first grew an interest in fashion design, and how he went about the idea for creating his own brand: “As cliché as it sounds, starting my label is also a lot to do with my mum. I always thought skirts were beautiful, but I never saw her wearing them as I was growing up and I always wondered why. Apparently, she thought that they didn’t look good on her. This bothered me, and it got me thinking that clothes are just a piece of fabric and I thought, "what is life if we can’t direct a piece of cloth to make it look good on us"? That was, I think, the moment that planted the seed for my interest in fashion.”

Edward studied MA Fashion Design at Birmingham City University, graduating in 2014. He loved fashion but wasn’t happy with how things in the industry were being run in terms of ethical production: “I had previously worked for a high street brand and spent some time working for a couturier, during which time I saw a side of fashion that I didn’t really like.

“I loved the job and the process, but I didn’t agree with how things were done, and what it cost certain people in the supply chain. So, I decided to use my experience in the industry and with a desire to be the change I wanted to see, I launched my label Edward Mongzar.”

 

Images courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

The importance of university:

University was incredibly important for Edward in regards to the skills required to launch his brand: “My BA in Fashion Design allowed me to get to grips with the core of design and to learn and hone some of the important skills I required when designing; I specialised in pattern making, and everything I have learned from there has been vital for me as a designer. My Bachelor’s degree helped me to deal with problems that are technical and require certain expertise. 

“My MA also helped tremendously as I did my dissertation on individual style and cultural identity and how they influence one another. Since my Master’s was all theoretical, I took the time to look at the design and the fashion world from a very different perspective, which in turn helped me to be pragmatic, tow the creative line without losing touch and to always remember that I am designing and making clothes for real people.”

Clothing with a conscience:

The clothing is created with an ethical conscious in mind, and Edward is passionate about making sure every aspect of the clothes he creates are sustainable: “My partner and I do all of the hand marble dyeing for our collection by hand, so we are able to safely say that the dyeing has no negative ethical consequences for any workers.

“We are also able to make sure we are as sustainable as possible as we recycle the water we use to dye and we dry everything in the natural heat of the sun, therefore completely eradicating the need for any kind of electricity or harm to the environment. “

Another way Edward makes sure his brand stays true to its ethos of sustainability is by being selective with his suppliers and manufacturers: “Everything is manufactured in London so we are able to see for ourselves the process and everyone involved in the making our garments. Most importantly, we work exclusively with independent suppliers that have passed a work welfare test.”

Gender equality and supporting women is also important for Edward: “We source our fabrics from suppliers whom we trust have a strong ethical code. All of the other businesses we work with, from those we source our fabrics, those who dye some of our solid colour fabrics and those who produce our garments in London, are all owned by women and employ almost exclusively women and that is something we are really proud of. It wasn’t a conscious choice in the beginning but it’s something we have stuck to and think is important.”

 

Images courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

Beliefs as a designer:

Edward’s signature design style is his stunning hand-marbled fabrics and this fits into the way he runs his brand and the ethos behind it: “My core beliefs as a designer are perfectly represented by the hand marbling that I use. The gentle swirls of the marbling, juxtaposed with the unpredictability of the dye, represent my belief that womenswear should be soft and gentle, as well as freeing and liberating.

“I view the marbling process as a representation of the ideal 'live and let live', with the water and dye acting independently but coming together to create something beautiful. I believe in effortless elegance through simple designs and for my clothes to be honest, have integrity and practicality. I don’t want my clothes to define any woman who wears them; I want the woman wearing the clothes to define them."

He continues: “I want to create pieces that are functional; I am a big believer in ergonomics and though I like to innovate with the crafts I use, I always aim to keep my pieces wearable. I am not claiming to sell art, history or the future; I am just a designer trying to make the best out of my creative ability to make beautiful clothes. I was also lucky enough to have a partner and family who support my vision and they have all really supported the business and helped it grow.”

Image courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

The design process:

Staying true to himself and his brand was incredibly important for Edward when he created his latest collection. He says: “Our story for SS19 is an evolution of the story that we began telling with our very first collection, Marble Mist. Remaining true to the gentle poise and simple elegance we strive for in our collection, we continued to use the artisanal practice of hand marbling to tell a story.

“When marbling, we attempted to capture the subtle nuances and natural flow of the colour swirling on the water; impressing upon the fabric a serene colour effect. All of the fabric for this collection has been hand marble dyed by my partner and I and this has allowed us to have a very close connection with the collection and means that I have been able to add my own personal touch to each and every piece."

 

Images courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

The best thing about being a fashion designer:

Although it can be tough, working in the fashion design industry can also be incredibly rewarding and Edward clearly adores the work that he does. He tells me about the best aspects of his job: “You’re never bored, because everything that you see around you, everyone you meet and every environment you are in has a story to offer. I am constantly kept engaged by what’s happening around me. I can’t help but always wonder what I would do with all the free space in my mind if I weren’t a designer.

“The other amazing thing about being a fashion designer is meeting a wealth of interesting and amazing people from all over the world with different stories and viewpoints. I get to travel a lot for work and that’s something I am incredibly grateful for because I enjoy seeing new places and new cultures."

What does the future hold?

For now, Edward is focused solely on womenswear but he isn’t ruling out branching into menswear in the future. He says: “I have designed menswear in university and for previous employers but for now my concentration is solely on womenswear. My label Edward Mongzar is still very new and it’s just my partner and I, so we want to make sure we establish ourselves in the industry with our womenswear before we think about menswear.

“I enjoy designing menswear but to do so now would be spreading ourselves too thin and we always want to ensure we are making high standard, quality and lasting garments. It’s definitely a long-term goal though and I’m sure in a few years you’ll see Edward Mongzar launching a menswear collection!”

 

Images courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

Words of wisdom:

Finally, Edward has some advice for anyone hoping to get into the fashion industry. He highly recommends studying at university: “Make sure you study some kind of fashion degree or course because all of the techniques and technicalities you learn about during that time will be vital if you do decide to work in fashion. There are things that seem inconsequential at the time, but they make all the difference when you begin working; it’s incredibly helpful to have at least some skill in all aspects they teach you about, from sketching to garment construction and everything in between.”

A final pearl of wisdom from Edward is to get as much experience as you can, from internships to assistant jobs, any work within the industry will be invaluable: He says: “I would highly recommend at least a few good years of experience working in the fashion industry before launching a label. You need this time to see how everything works and to get an idea of what space in the market is.”

Lead Image courtesy of Edward Mongzar 

 




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