FLORENCE BRIDGE COMBINES NATURE AND OFFICE LIFE IN HER ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS DESIGNS
Be more sustainable and transparent. Know how and where your clothes are made. These are welcome sentiments commonly practiced by the makers and creators of this generation and British designer Florence Bridge is no different. “I’ve always had a real love of nature,” she explains, “so I would say that’s where my ambition to be responsible and respectful to the environment comes from.”
Bridge grew up in London and studied fashion design at both Nottingham Trent University and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, graduating in 2012 with a first-class degree. After working with various luxury womenswear designers and learning skills like pattern cutting, embellishment, and production, she set up her label in 2013 with the intention of creating a brand that showcased her love of nature and ethos of social responsibility.
She designs collections filled with clean and classic staples like the shirt, slip, and shift dress. Those silhouettes consistently appear in her collections, weaving through each season in new ways. Patchwork leather and digitally printed silks are also recurring features, but she is mostly known for her fuzzy Mongolian shearlings. “I am obsessed with the texture of this unique material,” she says. In keeping with her overarching ethos, Bridge looks for ways to reduce the chemical impact of the dyeing process, experimenting with vegetable-based dyes and hair dyes to create her rich palette.
Each of Bridge’s collections starts with a print, usually derived from something she has seen in the natural world. Her past designs have featured woodcut grains, coral fragments found on a beach, leaves, and even oil spills spotted in rainwater. The prints are then reimagined, sized, and scaled until she is satisfied with the print’s placement on her designs. “I’ll always spend a few days making a real big mess just trying out lots of different print ideas,” she says. “It’s important for me to make physical artworks and sometimes the direction can completely change by accidents or paint spills that happen in the studio.”
She loves the contradiction between nature and using technological, human-made processes like taking photographs or using photocopiers. Her latest Spring 2018 collection features ethereal floral prints that look almost like glowing X-rays. “The contrast of office life and wildflowers I love—maybe because my childhood was split between living in central London and spending lots of time in rural Norfolk, the English countryside,” she says. “I love the two extremes together and tried to capture this in the print.”
Bridge is cognizant of consumers becoming more interested in the environmental credentials of the brands they buy. People are starting to care less about which celebrities have worn their designs and more about how and where their clothes are made. Social media has also connected consumers to brands like never before, with people no longer only interested in finding the cheapest option available.
The designer’s passion for environmental protection is both laudable and exhaustive. She believes in slow fashion and is committed to using only natural fibers. Everything she designs is handcrafted in the United Kingdom to cut down on carbon emissions usually released from transporting materials. She sources her animal products from creatures specifically bred for their skins and she tries to use as much of each skin as possible to reduce waste. Bridge also avoids human-made plastic fibers to reduce pollution and the damage that plastic and synthetic fabrics cause the environment.
While it may seem like Bridge is doing everything possible to practice sustainability, she knows it’s a challenging endeavor. “I do also think you have to pick your battles,” she says. “Realistically it’s impossible to be one-hundred-percent environmentally perfect—nothing is perfect—everything has some impact on the environment.”
Ultimately, Bridge wants to make clothes that make women feel confident and good about themselves. “I’ve never been solely aimed at making lots of money with the brand. My first priority has always been to make beautiful quality products that women love to wear.”
- Words by Alexandra Sarabia
- Photography by Myro Wulff
Styling by Kelly-Ann Hughes. Model: Ulrike Lundsgaard at IMG Models. Hair by Ryuta Saiga. Makeup by Roberta Keasey.