Feel-Good Fashion That Transcends Trends
Ermalinda Menella Abitbol knows a thing or ten about ethical fashion. Starting her Gold Coast-based fashion label Ladli Collections ten years ago, she was pioneering in the sustainable fashion movement that’s become so popular today.
Ermalinda explains her label was a culmination of bringing her skills and passions together to dress women who don’t follow fashion ‘trends’ – they are self-assured, adventurous women who understand that fashion should be timeless. “The Ladli client can buy a limited collection piece in her 30s and keep it forever – it doesn’t date, she can wear it for her 80th and look chic”, says Ermalinda.
From her earliest memories Ermalinda was transfixed watching her aunt, who was a seamstress for none other than Valentino in Rome. “I spent days in her workroom watching every stitch. Pattern cutting was her magic. She taught me how to cut and design timeless clothing for women of all body shapes”.
In a time where everything, art included, is increasingly computerised and clothing can be made with the pushing of a button on a huge machine, Ladli’s approach is dramatically different.
Ladli’s printed fabrics are all original designs, hand-sketched by Ermalinda. She credits nature and history as her primary inspirations for the drawings and says the key is visualising the finished fabric, colours and all. Each design tells its own story.
With her patterns and designs, Ermalinda jets off to India to meet with her team of artists who transfer the design onto wood, which later gets carved into the print pattern.
The printing process is intricate and labour-intensive. There are three processes used for printing, wood blocked, copper blocked and screenprint. These artisan techniques sustain valued jobs of people whose skills are often unused in larger computerised factories. It’s in this decision that one of Ladli’s admirable ethical choices is found. And it doesn’t stop there. Caring for her employees by paying them well and providing a safe, clean and happy workplace was crucial to Ermalinda.
“I’ve walked into factories that were a nightmare and walked straight back out. I won’t have anything to do with that and can’t believe people still do”.
All of Ladli’s prints are created using non-toxic colours to protect the environment. The buttons are made of mother of pearl and you’ll not even find a plastic gun tag used on the clothing.
Ermalinda chooses natural fibres and sustainable fabrics that are as beautiful as they are durable to create pieces that last and can be passed on and loved for years. Quite the opposite of the fast fashion movement we see in mass market retailers where inexpensive and often poorer quality clothing is churned out in response to a latest trend.
Over the ten years of the business, a lot has changed. Initially the Ladli range was created in free-size pieces, due in part to the budget outlays of a new business but also to cater to the niche demographic. Now, buying slow fashion has become chic and the label has a loyal customer following. In response to the increased demand from clients and retailers, Ladli rapidly expanded to offer an increased choice of sizing and bigger collections.
Up next from Ladli comes the summer collection, which Ermalinda describes as very feminine and features soft muted tones of peach, chocolate and pink. “I’ve added a cute 40’s style sleeve with hand-cut flower buttons and of course you’ll see lots of natural unbleached fabrics like linen and voile”. The print for this collection is called ‘Vintage Poppy’.
You’ll find Ladli on the Gold Coast in boutique retailers including Indigo & Me (at Island Emporium), Forget Me Not, My Country Escape (Canungra) and further afield at Staywild Yandina (specialists in slow fashion), Elique Boutique in Melbourne and Mrs Wolf in Tasmania.
Discover more about Ladli Collections here
Ermalinda wears a classic staple, The Safari Suit from the current collection in stores now. Models are wearing the upcoming Summer Collection.