Do you ever put on a matching underwear set and you suddenly feel like you have your life together and you’re ready to face the day? That’s how I feel in Organic Basics. Read on to find out more about this ethical fashion brand producing underwear and basics for people passionate about simple, sustainable design.
“We think that the fashion industry is a real dirty bastard, but fortunately, there’s a better way of doing things.”
Organic Basics was started in 2015 in Copenhagen, by four Danish friends. The brand’s goal is to minimize the impact our fabrics have on the environment, the factory workers, and on the human body; so they put sustainability at the heart of everything they do, both environmentally and socio-economically.
The bras and t-shirts are all made of 95% premium long fibre organic cotton. The remaining 5% elastane is for stretch and to stay well fitted all day long. The organic cotton, certified by GOTS and harvested in Turkey, provides a super soft and comfortable sensation. All Organic Basics products are produced in local European factories which comply with strict sustainable guidelines and work constantly to counteract waste and pollution.
The Scandinavian style of the designs, all ‘basics’ which never conform to trends and seasonal collections, means that they are made to last and work with everything in your wardrobe. What’s more, the packaging is minimalist, beautiful, and eco-friendly too. The waste of packaging materials is enormous and it will stay around for a long time, polluting the world, so this brand refuses to contribute to more plastic ending up in our ocean and nature by sending you 100% recycled and biodegradable packaging which you will want to reuse all over again. Plus, Organic Basics encourages you to wash less and wash better to battle the epidemic of negative environmental impact through at-home laundering.
“Sustainable fashion is not just a trend, it’s how we’re going to build our future.”
I am wearing the black triangle bra (£30), and the black organic cotton t-shirt (£28), both kindly gifted by the Organic Basics brand. If you fancy investing in some high quality, ethically made, 100% organic underwear like this, you can use my exclusive Organic Basics discount code! To get 15% off your order, simply head over to organicbasics.com and enter the code: urbanityxOB15
August is set to be a seriously busy month before I go back to university; I’m working at the renowned Craft Scotland summer show throughout the Edinburgh festival, an exhibition of some of Scotland’s most exciting and talented designer-makers, plus lots of freelance client work, and I’ve been building a brand new website for this blog (launching very soon, keep your eyes peeled!).
So, I needed a little bit of ‘treat yo self’ time, and that meant some pampering in the form of fresh new nails from Chamomile Sanctuary Spa, and a slick new haircut from Hair By JFK, to pump myself up for a hectic few weeks, and to review two of Edinburgh’s most prominent hair and beauty salons.
Since I first got my hair cut short, it’s been fairly low maintenance, but one thing that has really got on my nerves is how quickly short hair grows, especially at the back and sides (see the before photo!). The lovely James at established Edinburgh hairdressers Hair By JFK suggested a super-short, sharp haircut while keeping it long and full of volume on top, and I was thrilled with the results; a style that will last longer while I don’t have time for regular trips to the salon. I also got some fab product recommendations, including a volumizing cream called Upload by Schwarzkopf, and I invested in some new Bleach London dyes and shampoos for when I eventually grow my hair out and experiment with colour again. After years of damaged hair (FYI- skinny does not equal pretty!), it feels great to be growing healthy new hair from scratch, and get it maintained by some fab Edinburgh based hairdressers!
After years of success in Bruntsfield, the award-winning Hair by JFK has just opened its second branch in Edinburgh’s South Clerk Street. I was really impressed by the new salon, which has been designed to fit the brand, filled with their zebra motif as well as bold green walls, vibrant plants and neon lighting to add some uniqueness to the clean, contemporary space. Like the Bruntsfield salon, the new South Clerk Street salon is also dog-friendly and the Hair by JFK team are delighted to welcome in their client’s furry friends. Plus, they use cruelty-free hair products! Find out more at hairbyjfk.com
Now, it’s time to talk nails. I am a big fan of Shellac nails, but they never seem to last the full 2-3 weeks for me, and maintenance can be a chore. That’s where ‘The GelBottle’ comes in. The latest in nail technology, The GelBottle was born with high quality and innovation in mind. The brand offers an array of more than 360 unique colours of gel polishes that are rich, highly pigmented, chip-resistant and offer extreme long lasting shine. They are also completely vegan and cruelty free!
Chamomile Sanctuary on Alva Street in the West End is the first salon in Edinburgh to have therapists trained to use The GelBottle. My experience at the salon was absolutely fantastic, and the treatment lasted me a full 21 days, including a week in the Highlands where i went swimmig in the sea, kayaking around the islands and cycling through the hills; safe to say I’m impressed. Find out more at chamomilesancturary.com
Where are your favourite places to get your hair and nails done in Edinburgh? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @urbanityblog!
There has a lot of conversation in the blogosphere lately about whether or not bloggers should stick to a singular, focused niche, or cover a wide range of topics, in order to achieve ‘success’ as a blogger.
First of all, what is a blog niche?
If you have been following me since the beginning (hi mum), you will have noticed that Urbanity has changed drastically over the past four years. When I started out, I just wanted to be a blogger, so I wrote about everything under the sun that vaguely related to my life, including mental health, food, beauty, style, as well as any blogger event I could get my hands on an invite to. As my writing, social media skills and photography, improved, I narrowed my blog posts down to simply fashion, and then in the past year, ethical and sustainable fashion; this is my niche and is now what I define my ‘brand’ as.
Here are some examples of the most popular blog niches that most sites you visit or Instagram accounts you follow will define themselves as:
But there are also dozens more really niche categories within these umbrellas, including:
– Street style or celebrity style
– Cruelty-free and organic beauty
– Travelling on a tight budget
– Vegan or gluten-free food
– Zero waste lifestyle
– Parenting while running a business
There are lots of different pros and cons of having a specific, niche blog vs. a more wide umbrella of topics covered, whether on a blog or an Instagram feed with a theme. These can vary hugely from person to person, but in general, they can be summarised as follows:
-You can become an expert in your field; people in your niche or industry will come to you as a source of knowledge, and you can become a thought leader and niche influencer.
-The blogosphere is extremely saturated, and lots of bloggers write about exactly the same things. To stand out, it is a good idea to create a unique niche.
-Having a niche for your blog helps to foster a sense of community, as you engage with a smaller and often more enthusiastic group of similar bloggers.
-You can successfully pitch yourself to brands that closely align with your own interests and ethics, proving that your audience is truly engaged with the exact type of product or service that the company is trying to promote and sell.
-A more generic, ‘lifestyle’ category means that you can blog about anything that takes your fancy; whatever is happening in your life or the world in general. People are multi-faceted with lots of different interests and ideas and, that can be reflected in your blog.
-If your blog is too niche, it may limit your ideas for posts, and you might get writer’s block more often because you feel you’ve already ‘covered it all’.
-You may create a blog niche, and related URL and social media handles, centered around your passion in life or main hobby, but if you change your mind or your circumstances change, you might have to totally rebrand later on, which is a lot of hassle.
-You might alienate yourself from brand collaborations if you refuse to share content about anything other than your niche.
My personal opinion is that as a blogger, you are your brand. In essence, this means that if you have a really good grasp of the written word, you put your authentic personality across in your content, and you are confident in what you do, it doesn’t really matter what you write about! Are you blogging about the latest makeup products to bump your blog up in the Google search results and Twitter trending topics, but what you really love is DIY and interiors and you are currently decorating your home? Its ok to switch your niche, because your audience follows you for your voice, which you will bring with you wherever you go.
I think it is also important to take a second to reflect upon your choices in your content creation; are you simply following blogging trends, chasing the ‘numbers game’ and trying to emulate the Insta-famous, or are you being truly honest about what you are passionate about? This is why a blog niche works for me; because ethical fashion is my main interest in my career and my personal life; so it is something I am naturally curious about, thus posting about it comes naturally and doesn’t feel tiresome, or ‘icky’ (trying to chase followers, freebies, events, money, without much thought for ethics) like lifestyle blogging did.
These photos are by the fab photographer Ellie Morag, which she took while we were sipping coffee at Lovecrumbs, for her ‘Creative Conversations’ project. You can read her interview with me about being creative in the modern world here:
I don’t know about you, but I am getting a bit tired of all the ethical fashion brands that produce simple, minimalist basics. Sure, a good organic cotton t-shirt, well-fitting jeans, and comfy loungewear are essentials in everyone’s wardrobe, but what about when you want to dress up for a more formal event, or when you want to make more of a fashion statement? I want to make the case for stylish and sustainable fashion which makes you feel just a little bit more fancy, with some help from the gorgeous lace and tweed collection by Scottish fashion designer Elizabeth Martin.
This blouse and a-line skirt were made to be paired together, although they look great as separates too (I styled the top with high waisted black jeans, and the skirt with an off-the-shoulder top). They can also be worn like I am here- with a bralet and mini shorts underneath, to make more of a statement, or if you want a little more modesty, the two-piece looks just as good with a tank top and black tights or an underskirt. I styled them with bare legs and chunky boots as it was a warm day when I shot this with the help of Alice Cruickshank (aka Twenty Something City).
I would wear this outfit to a wedding or a more formal party, like a big birthday, a fancy dinner, an awards ceremony or launch event. The lace is a Scottish madras lace by Ayshire-based manufacturer MYB Textiles, and the cowl neck collar and waistband is made from Harris Tweed from Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. Overall, I am thrilled to have found a formal, but fun, outfit from a local, sustainable designer! What do you think?
Ethical fashion is finally making it into the mainstream, which despite the cynical view that it’s becoming a faddy trend, I think is a brilliant step towards a fairer fashion industry for everyone. So when John Lewis, one of the biggest and best British retailers, decided to start stocking sustainable fashion brand Armed Angels, I couldn’t help but celebrate.
ARMEDANGELS aims to be the ultimate eco and fair fashion brand. On the human side, they are dedicated to providing safe working conditions, good wages and fair opportunities to all the people throughout their supply chain.
In terms of environmental issues, the ARMEDANGELS is striving to be sustainable without compromising on style. The brand uses eco-friendly textiles in every collection, including organic cotton, mulesing- & chlorine-free virgin wool, recycled polyester, tencel, modal and linen.
But don’t just take their word for it, ARMEDANGELS is a member of certified organisations that regularly audit clothing companies to comply with their guidelines, including GOTS, Fairtrade, PETA and the Fair Wear Foundation.
One thing I really appreciate in a fashion brand is the packaging it arrives in; not just how it looks- which should carry every attention to detail that the garment itself has- but also how it aligns with the ethics of the brand. Nothing irks me more than ordering from an ‘ethical’ company and receiving a product wrapped in layers of toxic plastic. This organic cotton knit dress, adorned with a coral and fuschia brick print, was delivered in a box made from actual grass. The ‘Grassbox’ is a super sustainable alternative to traditional cardboard, and it was even reinforced with 100% recycled plastic packaging too.
I decided to pair this maximalist midi dress with equally bold palm leaf dangly earrings by print design queen Mica Peet, along with some chunky boots and my old oversized denim jacket. Finally, the look was finished off with an accessory from another fabulous ethical fashion brand, Wyatt & Jack, who make upcycled bright and bold bags from old deck chairs and bouncy castles.
Want to check out the ARMEDANGELS designs for yourself? The German ethical fashion brand now stocks a capsule collection of womenswear at John Lewis in Edinburgh, right at the heart of the exciting new St James Centre development!
Let me know what you think of this outfit in the comments, or tweet me @urbanityblog!
The Scottish Summer is well and truly set in motion, and as the weather warms up, synthetic fibres are just a no-go for me. Unlike polyester which clings to the skin, breathable organic natural fibres are perfect alternatives, and they are more eco-friendly too! Today I’m making the case for adding more linen into your summer wardrobe, with a little help from this classic shirt dress by Scottish fashion designer Elizabeth Martin, made from 100% natural Irish linen.
What is linen?
Linen is the oldest textile known to man; a bast fibre form the flax plant, woven into a luxurious textile that’s been popular since the Ancient Egyptian times.
Is linen sustainable?
Because it is a natural fibre, linen is bio-degradable over time, unlike its man-made counterparts which are doomed for landfill. What’s more, every part of the flax plant, from seed to stalk, is completely usable and reusable, including the finished cloth, so there is very little waste involved in the process. it is also strong and long lasting, and looks great when left completely natural and undyed/untreated, so its perfect for a slow fashion approach.
However, as with all fashion and textiles products, the ethics and sustainability can vary wildly depending on the supplier, manufacturer, designer or retailer, so it’s important to not take any fabric qualities at face value, and do your research first, always! Look out for the Masters of Linen certification which ensures the quality and integrity of the fabric.
Is linen wearable?
The main benefit of wearing linen clothing is that it keeps you cool. It is a light and breathable fabric because of its highly absorbent fibre and loose weave structure that allows easy airflow around the skin, making it perfect for summer shirts, trousers, and suits so you can look smart without the sweat.
As you probably already know- or can see from these photographs- the main downside of linen is that it creases and wrinkles really easily. Because it’s so lightweight, there is no natural gravity weighing down the hem of a garment, so it requires regular ironing or steaming. However, I think this is part of the charm of the fabric, and I honestly don’t mind the slightly worn, textured look in this outfit.
Where to buy linen clothing
Elizabeth Martin | Elizabeth’s range of tops and blouses made from crisp white linen by UK manufacturer John England are totally flattering and wearable. The best part? This ‘Katie’ shirt dress with the cute bow and pearl button detailing has pockets. That’s right ladies, a shirt with pockets. What more could you want? A Woodland Gathering | Another Scottish fashion brand, A Woodland Gathering, creates seasonless styles in womenswear and childrenswear, crafted mindfully and consciously using fabric sourced from a small linen mill, all made in Scotland. Rachel Craven | Rachel Craven is a made in LA fashion brand which uses deadstock (leftover/waste) Italian linens to create stunning luxury womenswear. Blluemade | Blluemade is an NYC based label by husband and wife team Alex Robins and Lilly Lampe, which uses premium quality, eco-friendly Belgian linen to create classic men’s and women’s clothing,
In a time where fashion brands everywhere are feverishly targetting millennial and Gen Z consumers, it is more refreshing than ever to meet a designer who has stuck to her guns in creating fashion and lifestyle products for women of all ages, and sizes.
Here, read my interview with Cheri Milaney, Edinburgh entrepreneur behind fashion label Milani Cultura, to discover her inspirations and aspirations for growing an ethical and sustainable brand, inspired by Italy with its roots firmly in Scotland.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue this career?
I was always interested in fashion from a very young age. My Mum always thought it was unusual that I would sit and draw sketches of ball gowns and dresses for hours starting at the age of six. Then after I graduated from college I worked in various facets of the industry for several years. At that point, I felt I had gained very valuable experience in the various areas that could help me to start my own business and finally launch my own brand.
How did you get started on your path?
I studied Fashion Merchandising and production followed by studying under a French couturier. My first fashion job was working in a women’s clothing boutique. After that, I worked for a department store and was responsible for visual merchandising and display. I later worked for a fashion magazine.
What does your average working day look like?
Sometimes I’m like a mad scientist in a lab with colour books, fabric and yarn samples scattered all over my studio and other times I am very organized but I love sticky notes and have many stuck to my bulletin boards. Everyday is always something different as I have to wear so many hats.
What is yourfavouritepiece you’ve ever worked on?
I don’t know that I have just one favourite piece as I have worked with so many colours and textures. I get excited every season when I have a new, fresh collection. However several years ago I was invited to do a show in China and I loved the colour story and flowing pieces I used. They were a combination of silk and metal fabrics with iridescent tones of magenta pink and apricot. I loved the way they draped on the body but if I did have to choose a favourite piece it would be one of my jackets. The first time I introduced it I used a beautiful fabric in black and gold. It was in Kanji characters and was inspired by a famous Chinese poem. The jacket was softly tailored and it fit perfectly in all the right places no matter what the size was. Everyone seemed to love it so I kept reinventing it. That design became one of my signature pieces.
How would you sum up your brand in one sentence?
Its an Italian inspired lifestyle brand catering to customers in many shapes and sizes.
What other designers are your inspired by?
Because I have spent so much time in Italy I appreciate and am inspired by many Italian brands. I love the look and quality. I really like Valentino for the timeless quality. I also love Etro for the prints and soft dressing. I think I am very eclectic in what I like its what keeps my creativity going
Who is your target customer?
My target customer is a woman who appreciates quality investment pieces. The age range is 35 and up. There really is no age limit. The collection is elegant, comfortable and feminine. I’m always mindful when I’m designing each piece that it will translate the same and be flattering whether it’s a small or large size. That it will fit a real woman’s body. My customers really appreciate that they can feel confident when wearing the designs. Curves and all! My mission is to bring out a woman’s inner sparkle!
Do you think being based in Scotland has benefitted you?
Yes as all my production and fabric sourcing is done in Italy so living in Edinburgh makes it very close and economical to travel. More importantly, I love living in Edinburgh. It’s such an inspiring city to live in with such depth and history.
Where do you see the future of Scottish fashion?
I think the design industry has dramatically changed over the years with technology and innovation. Because of this, it has become vastly competitive not just in Scotland but globally. I think it’s very important for independent designers to define their brand and be unique. It is important to be unique and stand out from your competitors.
Where do you see your brand in 5 years time?
With a lot more grey hair! Seriously, I would really love to build my build my brand here in the UK. I spent many years building a successful business and brand in North America and I am aiming to replicate that success here in Scotland.
Find out more about the brand, including its use of natural, organic ingredients in perfumery, and ‘eco-fur’ in its garments, at cherimilaney.com
Today I am celebrating the incredible emerging fashion designers across the world; I am in awe of your talent, your creativity, and your dedication to the art (and yes, I believe that fashion can be an art). In today’s saturated world, starting your own fashion label is undoubtedly a huge risk, but the love of design trumps all the corporate evils, and I have endless amounts of respect for that. As part of my enthusiasm for embracing fashion in a more ethical and sustainable way, it’s time again to dedicate some space on this blog to the small fries, the changemakers, and the ones to watch.
Why is supporting emerging fashion talent so important? I believe there are 3 key reasons.
Firstly, when you purchase a piece from an independent young fashion designer, you are investing in a luxury garment, but for a mere fraction of the price of a designer garment from a big name fashion house. It is true that clothing from smaller brands and designers are usually more expensive than larger mass-market or well-established brands (and that’s because it’s really really expensive to make clothing, but more on that in another blog post), however, the quality is, more often than not, so much better than you will find on the high street or even higher end brands that create products in similar mass production facilities. With an emerging fashion designer, you are getting a handmade or sometimes even custom-made piece but without the couture price tag. And remember, when these young designers inevitably gain popularity, their price points will most likely get higher, so its best to get in early!
Secondly, by investing in under-the-radar labels, you are going to have a wardrobe full of one-of-a-kind pieces, and therefore will always look totally unique. I love to support this next generation of changemakers- and I wish I could do it more often if my bank balance allowed it- because I know that’m not only giving a local or independent young business a big boost, but I am enhancing my own personal style, and saying no to mass-produced, monogamous, trend-led high street fashion.
Finally, if you are concerned by the ethics and sustainability of the fashion industry, many brands run by young designers, who are often students or recent graduates, are what I like to call ‘ethical by accident’. They may not necessarily have sustainability at the crux of their brand, or set out to create a specifically ethical product, but by proxy they are better for the environment and for people than the fast fashion alternative. This is because they are handmade by people with a passion for their work, they are made from materials chosen for quality and integrity, they are constructed in a way that’s made to last a long time, and they are often made locally and in collaboration with small local business.
Now, about this look…
I popped into a pop-up last month here in Edinburgh; an exhibition and shop run for a few days only by young Scottish fashion designer Ellie Vallely, creative director, proprietor and visionary behind Squint Clothing, a label for the playful, laid back, weird and wonderful girl.
The popup was launching squint’s new collection, Organised Fun, a collaboration with Glasgow-based illustrator Alice Dansey-Wright. Every piece is adorned with Alice’s bold, childlike doodles, including sunshine, squiggles, and even boobs; the two Scottish creatives complement each other perfectly, as both are busting full of personality.
I have loved the Squint aesthetic since I met Ellie through working at The Scottish Design Exchange, and it has been really exciting to see her brand develop and grow. I have a couple of tees and sweaters from previous collections, but I thought it was about time I splash out on some custom pieces. The Organised Fun collection was characterized by bright colours like pink, yellow and green, but as a pared-back dresser, I ordered the one-size-fits-all bomber style jacket in black, and some matching combat trousers to boot.
This two-piece is probably the most maximalist you will ever see me dress, but the jacket and trousers on their own are surprisingly wearable to turn my simple, more minimalist outfits into style statements. Plus, no one else has these pieces, which gives the fashion magpie in me a smug satisfaction; looking unique makes you feel unique, too.
Here are all the outfit details from this shoot (photographed by the lovely Ellie Morag):
What are your thoughts on emerging fashion talent? Have you ever purchased a piece form a student or graduate designer? Who are your ones to watch? Let me know in the comments of this blog post, or tweet me @urbanityblog!
How to work from home and make money from your blog or through your self-employed side-hustle, with top tips and free online resources for freelancers.
Last month, I left my job at an art gallery to go freelance full time, after ‘side hustling’ for about 2 years. It can feel like a big jump to quit the day job and become self-employed, but as I took the transition slowly, I’ve been able to learn from my (many) mistakes along the way. So, I thought I’d write up a quick blog post with my top tips on making freelancing work for your lifestyle, inspired by my current favourite read, The Multi Hyphen Method by Emma Gannon.
With a little help from some online gurus (see below for my favourite resources for freelancers), I have been able to find a style and routine that works for me.
I am primarily a digital marketer, so my work for any freelance clients I get involved all things online, including social media management, blogging, and journalism, website development, press and PR, events and collaborations. This means that 99.9% of my work is behind a laptop screen, on my own. But I have learned that there is a limit to your productivity when you are holed up at a desk all day, and in order to motivate yourself, you need to take your work to new locations and environments, new people, and above all, take breaks when you need to.
I’ve also learned more about finances, as it can be complex when you’re self-employed and have multiple income streams, so I’ve had to take things like late invoice payments and contracts a lot more seriously. I have also come to realise that being your own boss is damn hard, and you need to be a very determined and enthusiastic person to thrive without direct accountability, so it’s important to be passionate about your work so that it doesn’t become something you can resent.
Are you just starting out on your self-employed journey? Here are some fab free resources for freelancers to connect with!
Finally, here are my favourite ways to find jobs, products, and clients as a freelancer:
The Dots – I recently starting using The Dots as a way to explore vacancies for remote roles- it is specifically targetted towards creative and digital roles so it’s great if, like me, you are interested in fashion, marketing, design, and media.
Linkedin – Linkedin is such an underrated network for not only finding and applying for opportunities, but connecting with those who work in your industry, and both communicating and collaborating with them, and learning from their career paths.
Twitter and Instagram – More often than you think, successful people are willing to share their success, or the so-called secrets of their success, with people who are self-aware and confident enough to ask for it. Twitter and Instagram DMs are great ways to reach out to those who inspire you and ask for advice, and also find contact details for potential clients to pitch yourself and your work to.
Networking and Word of Mouth – Despite all the technology we are lucky enough to have at our fingertips, face-to-face interactions are the best way to connect with people, hands down. Open yourself up to events and meetings, and don’t be afraid to make the first move bringing an email chat into real life.
Here are all the details from this shoot, with pictures by the lovely Alice Cruickshank from Twenty-Something City!