By Walid’s ‘Zero Waste’ Philosophy
As featured in Because Magazine, October 2018
Words by Because Magazine Contributor, Sara-Ella Ozbek.
It all started with a jacket... A jacket, crafted from 19th Century hemp linen and hand-finished with intricate embroidery. "Very simple, honest, and still my favourite," British-Iraqi visionary Walid al Damirji tells me earnestly.
Six years on from that jacket, the designer has launched his first homeware collection – an extension of his fashion label, By Walid – that, earlier this week, he celebrated with a discussion at the Matches Fashion 5 Carlos Place townhouse entitled ‘The Luxury of Zero Waste’.
And ‘zero waste’ is not an overstatement. Damirji’s studio, tucked away in a mews behind Marble Arch, is a treasure cave of antique cloths, heritage fabrics and tapestries just waiting to be cut, dyed and upcycled. Nothing goes to waste; even the smallest scraps of material are used to make bags. "My pieces are made of fabrics that are too precious to waste," he tells me. "It would be an insult to history."
In an age where so many of us can be reduced to an anxious mess at the disposal of an odd sock, there certainly is a zeitgeist appeal to this approach. But for Damirji, the sustainability aspect has nothing to do with hashtags, or impressing a crowd. In fact, he has long been known to shun PR, celebrity gifting, sample size garments and other traditional methods for driving sales. That is not to say that his creations haven’t made it onto influential figures organically; he admits, with charming humbleness, that they are now being worn by "funny rap stars and people like that".
Damirji’s interest lies solely in creating pieces that last longer than a lifetime, a philosophy that he calls "slow fashion". Every item, whether crafted from 18th Century ecclesiastical fabric or 19th Century Chinese silk, is unique, symbolic and has its own story to tell. The finished pieces are so far beyond disposable, seasonal ready-to-wear that they feel more like art than fashion. That is true luxury, isn’t it?
"Luxury is everything unseen," Damirji says. "It’s all the hours of hard work and craftsmanship that go into making a piece." Indeed, one of his coats can take up to six weeks to finish!
The furniture is no less spectacular. It’s always a treat to venture into a fashion designer’s home, and an even greater pleasure when you can have a piece of their work decorating your own. From the 18th Century provincial chairs, to the embroidered-linen head sculptures and tapestry cushions, By Walid homeware is a show of artistry and individuality.