A Conscious Conversation with Joanna Ketterer
We caught up with Joanna Ketterer, founder of Luva Huva, a lingerie brand which is not just light and lovely but offers a more sustainable and eco-friendly alternative in an often wasteful fashion industry. Like Wild Fawn, Luva Huva is a team of four women, working from their Brighton Studio on all aspects from design, production and packing. For us, it is so important to know who’s hands have made our garments so we got to know Joanna a little better.
Tell us a little about your background - and how did you get to where you are now with Luva Huva?
I studied printed textiles in 2001 and it was then that I started working with Bamboo , soy and organic cotton, but after university I fell into the world of textile art and it was quite a few years later that I made my first pair of knickers initially from a cotton remnant I found at a market. From here I realised I could up-cycle remnants and cut off pieces of fabrics into lingerie. Lingerie was perfect for this as the pattern pieces are all so small. It seemed the perfect way to recycle and make something that was once redundant into something beautiful that is treasured.
I started the business really just for fun selling at festivals and Portobello Market. Before I knew it I had a flourishing business on my hands and quickly needed a small team to help me make everything. As the business grew it became harder to source the volume of vintage and remnant fabrics that I needed and it was then that we introduced bamboo jersey. In 2008 there were not many people using bamboo jersey for lingerie and this is how the business took its next leap as the press worldwide told my story.
Why is it important to you to work responsibly and produce handmade pieces in the UK?
The fashion industry is one of the most destructive industries there is to our environment. I feel as the director of a fashion brand it is my responsibility to not only be aware of the impact fashion has on the planet but also to behave and act in a way which has the least negative affect on our natural environment.
Our organic cotton is GOTS certified meaning it’s pesticide free and no nasty chemicals are used in the production of the fabric avoiding water and soil pollution.
By keeping manufacturing in house we can ensure production isn’t contracted out to third party factories who may not share our ethical and environmental standards. Our small team makes each order from scratch with caring attention to detail. Our garments are made to last and we also avoid the problem of overproduction.
Are there difficulties in being an ethical brand in today’s society - if so, how have you overcome them?
Since I started I would say some aspects are easier due to an increasing shift in consciousness towards ethically produced garments. There are now so many new and environmentally conscious companies producing everything from recyclable packaging to Innovative sustainable fabrics.
Having said that there are still limitations. Fabric mills are a rarity in this country.
The Uk has gone from being a top textile producer to what is now very limited production so sourcing our fabrics such as bamboo and organic cotton come from abroad. I try to offset this by doing what I can to source other aspects locally and I am proud to work and support one of the last elastic manufacturers in the UK.
What do you listen to whilst you’re working? Podcasts/radio/music? Do you know any good eco/slow living podcasts or programs you can share with our customers?
It is quite noisy when everyone is sewing but during the quiet parts of the day we love listening to audio books. I have just finished the salt path by Raynor Winn a beautiful true story of the healing power of nature.
Can you offer 3 thoughts for consumers to consider when making the choice between sustainable and fast fashion
The three things to consider in my opinion would be People, Quality and Fabrics.
The people making the items need to be paid fairly and work in a safe and happy workplace.
Look for high quality products as these will stand the test of time, reduce landfill and they support independent makers. And also they just look, feel and function so much better!
Find brands that are proud of the materials they use and know that they source them responsibly. Always go organic as this supports organic farming methods and is better for you and the environment.
This or that? – Sustainably handmade or 2nd hand for your own wardrobe?
Since moving to Brighton I love all the vintage boutiques but I do also really appreciate craftsmanship so treat myself from time to time from my favourite ethical brands.
What are your top 3 ethical, independent fashion brands?
Carrier Company based in Norfolk run by an inspirational woman. All garments are handmade in the UK using traditional fabrics
Warp and Weft based in Hastings- a boutique and beautiful working studio offering made to order tailoring.
Old- town another Norfolk based company and workshop using British cottons, linens and woollens. I love that they provide you with the pattern blocks and you get to customise the fabrics you want.
Finally not a fashion brand but l discovered them recently and fell in love with what they do!
Gomi- A Brighton based company using plastic waste to produce beautifully stylish bluetooth speakers- I want one!
What's your star sign/zodiac sign?
Would you say your personality is typical of that sign?
Not really. Sagittarians are supposed to be outgoing party animals but I love the quiet life tucked away in my little studio!
Can you offer 3 pieces of advice for those of us who want to live more ethically/consciously?
It can be overwhelming when you look at the big picture but we can all start with the small things and this will pave the way for bigger changes.
Where we have the most power to change is how we consume especially when it comes to clothing.
Research your brands and consider the quality of the garments to ensure it lasts.
Ask questions as to who made the item and what it is made from.
Finally, care for your garments. Wash items carefully and repair when possible .
We can all take inspiration from Tomofholland, a Brighton based textiles practitioner who started the trend of visible mending and the idea that a darn on a piece of clothing should be worn as a badge of honour.