When did you last spot someone on the street wearing the same dress; the very dress which you thought was so unique when you saw it on the hanger?

The trouble with mass production is that a ‘look’ is made to be universal – the chances are that everyone in the universe has one – and that some poor soul in a not too far away place was paid almost nothing to make it are pretty high. We talk a lot about ‘sustainability’ but what does it mean, and why does it matter? 

Our choices and how we spend our money have a ripple effect. Nowadays, trusting a brand to leave a kind ‘footprint’ on our planet is a big factor in our decision to buy. We want to know who made it and were they treated fairly? We want to be sure that the materials used and the way it is made means that it is a true bargain, both for the customer and for the community who produced it. But despite all this, no one wants to look boring! And no one wants to feel guilty every time they go shopping!

So how do you balance all this and still manage to find that perfect outfit? Maybe the answer is to think small! Small brands are more likely to have close working relationships with their suppliers were there’s greater transparency both in sourcing materials and manufacturing. At AlphaOmega, we not only think about the materials we use, and the impact they have on the environment but our original designs, colours and emphasis on creativity let you make a splash in your world. Creating products with you!- as the customer in mind. Giving our customers both peace of mind and creations that are unique in self expression.

So next time you get that fast fashion fever, shop small, as making a big statement doesn’t have to harm our environment.



(from ‘sustain’ and ‘ability’) is the process of change, in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional change are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations’.

Sustainability is fast becoming the biggest single issue facing business and commerce around the globe. Whether one is sceptical of the science behind climate change or not, the impact of human industry on the environment is becoming more difficult to ignore. The depletion of fossil fuels and natural resources, the erosion of wild habitats and the depopulation of species cannot surely be a seen as in anyway beneficial to ourselves or our planet


Fashion may not be the first industry that springs to mind as a major contributor to environmental destruction but it has hardly been immune from the negative side-effects of intensive production methods and mass consumption culture. Its exponential growth in the last few hundred years, has left fashion with a very large carbon footprint indeed. A visit to the V&A’s ‘Fashioned from Nature’ exhibition provided a sobering insight into this often ecologically unsound history.

What began as a voyage of discovery, a fascination and desire to document, showcase and harness the visual aesthetics and the innate practical qualities of the natural world, is now a billion dollar industry that has turned rare, exotic specimens into high-fashion products. With that follows the consumption of vast amounts of water to produce even the most natural of fibres, not to mention the use of harmful chemical processes, which have all  been created in the pursuit of cheaper, synthetic alternatives.

The promotion of mass consumption through the availability of cheaper and cheaper items has also given rise to an abundance of waste clothing and materials as well as sanctioning the unethical treatment of a number of its global workforce. In short, fashion is no small player when it comes to the imbalance between material gain vs. environmental cost.

From this assessment it would seem that the modern fashion industry is long overdue a rethink of its sourcing, production and manufacturing processes as well as the way in which it promotes buying culture. In some quarters, from independent labels to big name designers such as Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Christopher Raeburn, are making the utilisation of the latest technological advances, cutting waste, upcycling, recycling and supporting not-for-profit organisations and global charities the new-norm.

These practices are gradually becoming more common but in order to make them commonplace it will be up to the high-street companies and fast-fashion retailers to adopt a similar ethos up and down their supply chains.


Any root and branch overhaul of industry processes along with the standardisation of ecologically sound methods, while having a significant effect in cleaning up the industry, will no doubt require considerable investment. Despite the bulk of these costs being absorbed by the consumer, profit margins will inevitably be hit. In this regard full sustainability is an unattractive proposition for many large commercial fashion enterprises. As such  token gestures, heavily promoted and disguised as corporate responsibility will run the danger of becoming insubstantial. Though the end-user is perhaps the most powerful proponent for industry change, they are currently finding themselves faced with a barrage of terms such as ‘conscious’, ‘ethically sourced’, ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘recycled’, with little information as to what they actually mean. Leading to fears that ‘sustainability fatigue’ will set in even amongst the most ethically aware and educated consumer.

What is the ratio of recycled material in each product? Has the ethically grown cotton t-shirt been stitched by an under-paid worker in order to bring the costs down? The complexity and multifaceted nature of the fashion production process and a lack of transparency at every level means that consumers can be left feeling that shopping truly ethically is an almost impossible task and therefore not worth the bother. Perhaps this is what the industry is relying on to stall the progress of sustainability, the reality of consumers voting with their wallets would offer little option but to follow a more sustainable business model and swing the pendulum vastly in sustainability’s favour.

In future, fashion may find itself with no choice other than to adopt wholesale sustainability. Government legislation, or in the worst case scenario, difficulty in obtaining and maintaining current resource requirements, may force the hand of it and other industries altogether.

For one that prides itself on its ability to be a forerunner of innovation and invention this would be a poor demonstration of its powers and as some designers are already proving, sustainability is achievable. The pre-emption and future-proofing of the industry for such events is not just financially prudent in the longer term but could ultimately prevent fashion finding itself on the endangered species list.



WHO: Beauford Delaney

Above: Photo of Beauford Delaney


Boston->New York->Paris-> Eternity. The journey of Beaufort Delaney and his work came a long way in his lifetime, and earned him a place amongst the great impressionist’s where his creative genius lives on. Born in Knoxville Tennessee, Delany’s work evolved where his physical joinery and internal turmoils took him. Unlike our previous artist Introduction alumni Jean Michel Basquiat (read piece here), Delaney underwent formal art training and education after exhibiting an interest since early childhood to hone his skill. In his 20’s when he became the apprentice of Knoxville’s most famous artist the white impressionist painter Lloyd Branson. He then went on to New York, where his work made him a key player of the ‘Harlem Renaissance’.


Above: Beauford Delaney paintings, left ‘Greenwich Village’ 1940, right ‘Untitled Jazz Club’ c.1949

His paintings from this time are a melting pot of his experiences so far, a reflection of everyday life that illustrated both his formal training and instinctive abilities. His work combined the raw everyday realities of the New York streets with a dreamlike impressionist style, dancing on the border of abstract, with his use of energetic colour and harsh lines. In the beginning he seemed to find a place in the world, observing many different social groups & races, becoming friends with contemporary, like minded individuals like Georgia O’Keeffe, who would later paint his portrait.

Above: A Portrait of Delaney by Georgia O’keefe 1940, a friend and an admirer of his work 

However his life in New York was never short of places to draw inspiration from, and perhaps explained his growing isolation. Having arrived in the city in the fall out of the ‘Great Depression’ and in the midst of the ‘Great Migration’ of black people from the rural south to the industrial norther, Beauford had seen his fair share of things to make a man ponder the harsh realities of the world, seen in pieces such as can fire in the park (1946). Moreover his work started to reflect his internal world, one that was constantly conflicted and unable to accept himself as a ‘homosexual negro’, his isolation suggested such an existence, free of the harsh eyes of others.


Above: Delaney painting, left: ‘Can fire in the park’ 1946 right: Jazz Concert in Old Synagogue, New York 1946

By the 1950’s Delaney had made the move to Paris, signalling the start of the next chapter in his artistic memoirs as well as his personal life. His work became celebrated as part of the ‘Abstract Impressionist’s movement which was about to take the art world by storm, but was a group he never felt he affiliated with.

Above: Delaney painting, ‘Street Scene’ 1953

He would spend the last 26 years of his life in the french capital, but deteriorating mental and physical health would lead him to die while in a hospital for the insane in 1979.


Above: Left, photo of Delaney by Rue Guilleminot in 1973, Right, Delaney in his Paris studio in 1967

Despite a flurry of famous friends over the decades, the early years after his death proving unfruitful in their appreciation for his talent, and even being buried in an unmarked grave stone. However through the decades,friends, fans and art critics alike have come to realise and share what was always there to be seen, his pure of heart attitude and honest expression in all aspects of life, made his work worthy of acclamation.


Above: Left Beauford and James Baldwin 1976. Centre, Beauford portrait of Ella Fitzgerald 1968. Right, Beauford and Darthea Speyer, stand before Beauford’s portrait of Speyer 1973

Daring, courageous, and a quality so often undervalued, Beauford inspires AlphaOmega through demonstrating divergence in his style at a time when he had built momentum, going against the grain and disassociating himself from the art world. Which became an incredibly bold and pioneering move from any artist let alone an African American artist of his time. He was incredibly loyal and believed in his artistry and never felt the need for acceptance, a lesson we could all greatly benefit from learning.


WHO: Patrick Kelly

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Above: Photo of Patrick Kelly

WHY WE ARE INSPIRED: When you hear the word Mississippi, there are probably a few things that come to mind before ‘ haute couture’. However this great southern delta state managed to produce arguably one of the greatest designers that fashion has seen, whose larger than life outlook and boundary pushing instincts rocked the industry.

Playful, fun and glamorous, it’s easy to understand why Patrick Kelly’s designs became such a hit of the day. But as with anything that garners widespread appeal, they were also sprinkled with the glitter of controversy and sly undertones.

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Above: SS89 Collection. Photograph by Oliviero Toscani.Images courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Kelly’s clever use of iconoclastic racist imagery amplified his political standing on the subject matter at the time. The logo on his boutique bags, which divided opinions, cleverly featured a playful yet powerful image of a smiling golliwog, an effort by Kelly to reclaim the racist stereotype that once depicted black people in America.

Patrick-kelly-theredlist 3Patrick-Kelly-Runway-of-Love-061Patrick Kelly 2

Above: Left, Patrick Kelly brooch. Centre, Patrick Kelly shopping bags. Right, Patrick Kelly 1989 magazine feature

With his mother’s helping hand he even produced racist pickaninny doll pins, which he handed out at the end of his shows as souvenirs as well as famously designing a watermelon hat to subtly subvert and undermine racist imagery which were prevalent symbols that he grew up with in the south.


Above: The famous watermelon hat worn by catwalk model

Even when he hit the big time Kelly always remained true to his roots. Though he was inspired by the world of success and beautiful people around him, it was the women in his life at the start that spurred on his passion for fashion.

unnamedPatrick Kelly with grandma

Above: Left, photo taken with Patrick Kelly, Iman, Grace jones Naomi Campbell. Right, Patrick Kelly and his grandmother


Above: Patrick Kelly and Janet Chandler 

He never forgot the unrepresented black women who filled the church pews in his home town every Sunday and used them as an impetus to begin his ascent into the world of fashion.

Kelly’s universal imprint became more diverse as he designed for all types of women across America and beyond who had seen glimpses of the glamorous world of fashion. His message was simple, women of all diverse backgrounds should be celebrated, ladies that attend the ‘Baptist church on a Sunday, are just as fierce as the ladies at Yves Saint Laurent’s haute couture shows.’

Kelly’s playfulness so admired then and now is underpinned by something more intense today. As much as the designer was appreciated then (illustrated by his induction in Paris’ Chambre Syndicale) with the bittersweet lense of hindsight, the world can see what a rarity he truly was. His fashion house had five years of exuberance, fanning the flames of change before the designer died suddenly. Although Kelly had a signature look with the use heart shapes he sewed onto black tube dresses, using bright coloured buttons he had so much more to offer in the style stakes.

Patrick Kelly 4   Bette Davis wearing Patrick Kelly

Above: Left, Patrick Kelly AW88. Right Photo of Bette Davis wearing Patrick Kelly

His designs provided a glimpse of what the future would have held for the brand and indeed what is possible for the world of fashion and design as a whole. We at AO London will always remember a true creative who was bold enough to cleverly depict political/social issues through the use of sartorial brilliance.