My biggest gripe with the sustainable fashion movement, apart from how expensive the pieces are, is how bloody dull and boring they are.
I know that the idea is to make your piece versatile and multi-purpose so it can take you from boardroom to playground to coffee to some forced date night that your marriage counsellor suggested you try and is decidedly average and depressing…or I don’t know, whatever it is that partnered up working mothers are meant to get from their wardrobe I really have no idea (honestly just take a change of clothes it takes two minutes to change in the work toilets at 5pm).
But who says that versatile can’t be bold or patterned or colourful? Why do designers think that busy, socially conscious folk, want to look like boring grey rubbish bags?
So I was utterly ecstatic when I came across a New York Times article about the Zuri dress.
The Zuri dress is that mythical fashion unicorn – a sustainable, socially conscious, locally made, multi-use, versatile garment that comes in amazingly bright and fabulous colour and patterns, and, gasp, it has pockets – deep pockets!
And by patterns and colours I really mean PATTERNS AND COLOURS! Bright vivid yellows, reds and greens, with in-your-face, bold, graphic prints in patterns and animals. The designs are associated with African culture and reflect this amazing heritage, and it’s a culture that the rest of the world really should learn many lessons from. As someone who lives for colour and pattern, this is the kind of product I’ve yearned for my whole life.
The thing I love most about the brand is that they only make one dress. One dress that has been designed to look good on all body shapes and sizes, heights, and personal styles. It makes shopping on the site really easy as the only think you have to decide is what pattern you want!
The dress itself is a buttoned shirt dress, with 3/4 sleeves, a collarless v neck, and sits at knee length. It’s made from fabulous Dutch waxed cotton that is such good quality and so vibrant it’d make you weep. It’s designed to be travelled in, washes easily and is lightweight enough to keep you cool in the hottest climate, yet protected from the sun. It's made from amazing African waxed cotton that is slightly stiff, and a glorious crisp, yet comfortable texture. It's wrinkle resistant and very durable.
It can be worn buttoned up and loose as a tunic dress. Or belted like a cute shirt dress. Wear it unbuttoned as a jacket. Or folded and tied around your waist for a skirt. The sizing runs quite free and it’s loose nature means that it will fit well into plus size, as well as maternity.
So the style is versatile. But what about the colours and print? Well yes, it’s so versatile. In fact this morning I was so torn as to how to accessorise and dress it up that I lost fifteen minutes. Statement earrings, belts, bold necklaces all interchange with ease thanks to the colour accents in the patterns…or just go for a simple fuss free approach and let the dress do the speaking. The beauty of this style and range of patterns it can either be the foundation or the statement. It works for people like me who come from the Iris Apfel school of style of just piling on every accessory you can find…or for minimal dressers who like to wear just one streamlined piece.
Sadly by the time I read the original article the dress was sold out on the Zuri site, and was for a few months, but I waited and for once I was patient and it paid off – the pattern I wanted came back available and it was only a week wait before it was in stock ready for shipment.
And well, it was worth it. I travelled in it. It saw me through 35 degree heat and 80% humidity, but kept me looking stylish and I spent a day at an art gallery feeling very…well, Art gallery like. The staff kept ooh-ing over it, which I knew was a good sign.
And today I’m here, back at home, in 8 degrees, but with tights and boots, it works just as perfectly and is fabulous for work – so smart, chic and I look oh so polished and pulled together despite only throwing on one garment and chucking on a belt and accessories. That’s the point of a good dress and why I will always be a dress wearer – maximum impact and effect with minimal thought and effort. Dresses are the fashionista’s hack.
So Zuri, thank you, you cracked it – you finally convinced me that sustainable fashion can be interesting and desirable. This dress certainly won’t be my last of yours, as your other patterns call.