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HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/01/31: Swedish multinational clothing design retail company Hennes & Mauritz, H&M, store seen in Hong Kong.

Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

HONG KONG, CHINA - 2020/01/31: Swedish multinational clothing design retail company Hennes & Mauritz, H&M, store seen in Hong Kong.

Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Fashion brands like H&M, Zara, and ASOS have created a world where new trends move almost instantly from runway to store shelves to closets around the world. Prices (and often quality) are so low it’s almost like the clothes are meant to be worn just a few times, then tossed.

That’s one of the many critiques consumers have about fast fashion. But, millennial and Gen Z shoppers are also wary of the harm fast fashion causes to the environment. So, when H&M announced it’s planning to start renting clothing in a bid to keep younger, more socially-conscious customers, we tried to find out how the company plans to pull it off.

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Fair Isle: The remote island where jumpers are always in fashion

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A family of Shetlanders pose wearing Fair Isle jumpers and tank tops on one of the Shetland Islands in June 1970Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Image caption

Chris Morphet spent several days photographing people in Fair Isle and other areas of Shetland in 1970

Fifty years ago, the allure of Fair Isle knitwear inspired freelance photographer Chris Morphet to travel to the UK’s most remote community. His pictures documented the lives of Shetland islanders and the distinctive designs which are still influencing fashion today.

Chris felt drawn to Fair Isle after seeing the famous knitwear on the streets of London.

So in 1970, the 26-year-old photographer headed north to the remote island, which is located 80 miles off the Scottish mainland, half way between Orkney and Shetland.

A woman and two men pose wearing Fair Isle jumpers in front of the wall of a cottage on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Three men pose wearing matching Fair Isle jumpers on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Three Fishermen pose wearing Fair Isle jumpers on the deck of their boat 'Planet' in the harbour of the Shetland Isle of Whalsay in June 1970Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Image caption

These fishermen were photographed on the deck of their boat in the harbour at Whalsay

“I found it amazing that people lived on this island,” he said.

“I just went round a knocked on people’s doors and asked if they had any Fair Isle sweaters.

“It was quite a naive thing to do, but I was just entranced by the place. It was just something that caught my imagination.”

A woman poses wearing a Fair Isle style cardigan in front of Fair Isle jumpers hanging on a line in front of the wall of a cottage on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Two women knitting Fair Isle style jumpers pose in the living room of a cottage on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Chris, now 76, remembers everyone on the island being very welcoming.

“People just seemed happy to pose.

“I loved it all. It was a really wholesome experience, and I met amazing people.”

The people he photographed on Fair Isle included Stewart and Triona Thomson.

Stewart and Triona ThomsonImage copyright
Chris Morphet

Image caption

Stewart and Triona Thomson on Fair Isle 50 years ago…

Stewart and Triona Thomson as they are nowImage copyright
Thomson family

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… and how the couple look today

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Triona, now aged 75, said the picture had been taken while the couple were putting up a byre at their home.

“I have no memory of it at all,” she admitted.

“We must have put on our posh jumpers. The one in the photo – knitted by my mother-in law – is the only one I’ve ever possessed.”

Chris had two sweaters made for himself – one of which he still owns and wears today.

Chris Morphet wearing a Fair Isle sweater in 1970 and nowImage copyright
Chris Morphet

Image caption

Chris posed in a Fair Isle sweater at the time – and still wears a top he bought 50 years ago

He says the photographs he took in Shetland provided a historical record of the “very special” designs created by the people on Fair Isle.

The patterned knitwear developed in the early 19th Century in fishermen’s caps and jumpers, then gained wider popularity in the 1920s.

Fair Isle has since been adopted as a general term for multicoloured knitwear, but there are still small numbers of garments produced on the island from patterns which have been handed down through generations.

Each design contains an average of four colours, with only two colours used in each row.

A group of women and children pose wearing a Fair Isle sweaters in Lerwick in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Two women and a young girl pose wearing Fair Isle sweaters in Lerwick, Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Three women pose wearing Fair Isle sweaters in Lerwick in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Mati Ventrillon, a French-Venezuelan designer, is among those who are trying to keep the tradition alive on Fair Isle.

She moved to the island from London in 2007, when local knitters were looking for new recruits.

“I felt attracted to the designs, and I wanted to try my own designs and colours,” she explained.

She eventually launched her own company, selling online to customers in the UK and in overseas markets such as the US and Canada.

Mati Ventrillon

Image caption

Mati Ventrillon moved to Fair Isle 13 years ago

Various women operate knitting machines making Fair Isle knitwear on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Image caption

Chris also photographed knitting machines in operation in 1970

She also made headlines in 2015 when she received an apology from Chanel after her work was not credited for inspiring designs in one of its collections.

Mati said she was trying to work out how to grow the business while also preserving the traditions and heritage of the island.

“It starts to become a legacy. We are bringing people to the island and passing on the skills,” she said.

“It has been here for so many years, and you see it everywhere, it’s so beautiful. The design possibilities are endless.

“And it still has a long story ahead.”

A family of Shetlanders pose wearing Fair Isle jumpers in front of lobster pots on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

Two men posed wearing Fair Isle style tank top and jumper with cattle in a barn on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

A man and woman wearing Fair Isle jumpers pose with three children on one of the Shetland Islands in 1970.Image copyright
Chris Morphet

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The Best Street Style From London Fashion Week

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As it always must, Fashion Month has departed New York in favor of Europe. First up: London. And with brands like Simone Rocha, JW Anderson, and Burberry showing, it’s no surprise the fashion flock has come out in full force.

Last week, New Yorkers explained how they decide what to wear to the shows. Now we get to feast our eyes on all the stylish Londoners, with their color blocking and print-mashing galore. Between big romantic dresses and sharp tailoring, tie-dye, leopard, polka dots, plaid, gingham, stripes, checkers, and winter florals, you’ll never think of prints as seasonally specific again.

Our street-style photographer, Nicky Zeng, is documenting the European fashions all month. Keep scrolling to see the best looks from London Fashion Week, below.

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Misa Hylton Previews Netflix Documentary ‘The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion’ At ESSENCE Fashion House

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Misa Hylton Previews Netflix Documentary ‘The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion’ At ESSENCE Fashion House
Photo by Lawrence Miner

From the sound to the marketing to the fashion, Hip-Hop has long appeared to be a male dominated industry. In reality, for every era of the movement, there has been an agency of women masterminding and influencing Hip Hop culture since its’ early conception.

In a new Netflix documentary titled, The Remix: Hip Hop x Fashion, fashion architect Misa Hylton and designer/lifestyle entrepreneur April Walker remind everyone of how they and other Black designers birthed the Hip Hop fashion culture that has become a global phenomenon. The highly-anticipated project takes viewers through different stories about their innovative custom design techniques that undoubtedly shaped the most iconic style trends for urban culture.

Photo by Lawrence Miner

During ESSENCE Fashion House, attendees got a sneak peek of what they can expect to see in the new film. Following the exclusive preview, Misa Hylton and April Walker sat down with ESSENCE Deputy Editor, Allison McGevna, for an empowering discussion about their contributions to, and game-changing influence on, Hip-Hop fashion. The designers were also joined by the film’s co-directors, Lisa Cortes and Farah X.

As one who has long been beloved by both fans and entertainers within the culture, Misa Hylton says it never bothered her that more people weren’t celebrating her career and giving her accolades for creating some of the most iconic looks in Hip-Hop history.

Photo by Lawrence Miner

“Overall, I have always been grateful,” she said. “I don’t need everyone to know me, but the right people will know me and whoever God wants to know me.”

For X, the idea of focusing on Misa Hylton was already there.

“Why are we not telling stories about women that are so instrumental and have shaped Hip-Hop culture. But instead we continue to focus on and tell white male stories,” she exclaimed. “I decided I needed to change the ‘they’ that are telling the stories.”

Photo by Lawrence Miner

Walker expressed how surreal it feels knowing that this piece of history is finally being shared. “It’s humbling. I hope it’s inspirational for other makers and creators,” she said. “We just scratched the surface, but there’s so much more to come.”

Watch the conversation in full above.


For more of everything you missed at ESSENCE Fashion House NYC, head back to ESSENCE.com.

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