My ECO STORIES with Katya Zelentsova
Updated: Jul 11, 2022
Welcome to My ECO STORIES, our interview series, where we chat to different fashion and textile industry practitioners about their thoughts on sustainability and the future of fashion.
Katya Zelentsova is a Russian Designer with an iconic fringe, born and raised in the southern Russian city of Volgograd. Until she moved to London to study at the prestigious Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design, working in Paris and New York before returning for her MA in Fashion in Knitwear. Katya’s MA collection is a kaleidoscope of yarn, inspired by examining her Russian upbringing, culture’s history and weaving it into her pieces.
Can you talk a bit about your practice?
I make sentimental and sensual clothes. While I specialise in knit, many different techniques and materials are involved in my process: from crochet and hand-knit to industrial machine knitting to patch working and gathering. I use many of my experiences as inspiration and often look to my heritage, so it’s important to me to be authentic with my methods.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Transparency and common sense. On the one hand - use materials that don’t harm the earth and ensure your practice is mindful. Social sustainability is equally important: support artisans and pays people!
How do you make your practice more sustainable?
First, everything I make is produced in small amounts and mostly in-house. There’s definitely no issue of over-producing and waste when it takes me two weeks to crochet one piece. I also employ a zero-waste strategy: all cut-offs and leftovers become garments and accessories through patch working. In terms of materials, I use a lot of dead stock yarn, fabrics, and locally sourced things. I also work with Italian yarns from mills that champion sustainable production like Filmar, GTI Spa and Sesia. I was also fortunate to work with a small knitwear lab in Russia on my MA collection of knits. They have an assortment of Stoll machines, and they allowed me to really go crazy and try out things - it was very heartwarming to see them support me as a small designer.
Which item of clothing in your wardrobe is the most important to you?
A 70s green Lurex boat neck dress. It used to be my Nan’s, and then my Mum took over. It lost a belt sometime in the late 80s and eventually made its way to me. It has a festive feel to it, and I love having something that’s had a life of its own.
Which small businesses are you loving at the moment, and would like to give a shout out to?
I really love ELLISS - they started out as underwear and leisurewear, but they do really fabulous clothes now. It’s an in-house production, and they use sustainable materials. As well as making things on-demand, customers choose what they like on the website, and ELLISS makes it to order.
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, what issue has been highlighted in the industry to you?
It highlighted how fragile the whole industry and the production chain is. We spent so much time talking about how Brexit will change things. This tornado just brought the industry to a standstill in a blink of an eye - from shutting factories and ateliers to no fashion shows in the foreseeable future. And then you read about the factories in Bangladesh and Turkey abandoned by fast-fashion companies and denied pay for anything they’ve produced already, and it gets even worse.
What is your hope for the future of fashion?
Quality over quantity and hopefully a return to extravagance on a budget
Written by Bethan and Katya @ theecostories