How to Style: Nu Blvck Pyjama Scarf

Following on from Wednesday’s post, here is another in the Nu Blvck series from our ‘Ways to Style’ photoshoot with Holly May Wesley, featuring the large pyjama scarf in the rust/navy colour way, and the small pyjama scarf in dark grey tied to my navy grab bag. I styled this look very simply, with a taupe Hayley McSporran top, a Forever 21 brass pendant, Mandi Candi Boutique boots and some H&M high waisted black jeans.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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How to Style: The Nu Blvck Handbag

A few weeks back I had the opportunity to collaborate with some of my favourite Scottish fashion industry practitioners: Rebecca Flory and Andrew Vincent (founders of womenswear accessories brand Nu Blvck), Kirsty Halliday (renowned stylist part of of I’ll Be Your Mirror), Hannah Louise Baxter (fashion designer at her eponymous label) and talented photographer Holly May Wesley. Scroll on to see the results of our ”Ways to Style” photoshoot featuring two of my picks from the latest Nu Blvck collection: The Grab Bag and The Knot Bag. I styled these handmade, locally produced lustworthy handbags with a classic Burberry-style trench coat, cosy woolen scarf, chic leather gloves, and of course freshly dyed silver-blue hair by the wonderful Austen Thomson.

Grab Bag £190 Nu Blvck (shop here)
Knot Bag £275 Nu Blvck (shop here)
Trench Coat: Aquascutum, from Mr Ben’s Vintage Shop, Glasgow
Scarf: Borrowed from my flatmate, originally Urban Outfitters
Boots: Mandi Candi Boutique, Dundee
Watch: Olivia Burton Watches
Faux Leather Gloves: TK Maxx

Read more:
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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British Fashion Designers Making Waves

Lately I’ve been obsessed with Not Just a Label (NJAL) again after watching the Show Studio fashion week panels and getting bored of shopping from the same old designers on ASOS, and have discovered some amazing new labels all from art schools in the UK. In these turbulent post-Brexit times, I think its more important than ever to celebrate creative talent from all over the world that has come to Britain to get top-quality fashion education and stayed to start successful brands here. At my own university, Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Designs, many of the programmes are EU-funded, as are courses all over the UK, and the future is now uncertain. Anyway, here are 5 fashion designers to watch that I discovered on NJAL; Sofia Ilmonen, Hangjun Jo, Anita Nemkyova, Shauni Douglas and Charlie May.

Sofia Ilmonen

Originally from Finland and now based in East London, Sofia Ilmonen creates fun, feminine pieces with a streetwear edge; embracing current trends like frayed hems and oversized ruffles, but playing with colour and texture to create a new aesthetic that feels youthful and fresh. She was named in the ‘Ones to Watch’ list in Wonderland Magazine and in ‘200 Emerging Designers’ by Vogue Italia, an impressive feat for a very recent graduate from the London College of Fashion.



Hangjun Jo

Structural, cleverly crafted pieces with a gender-defying twist, Hangjun Jo is a South Korean fashion designer who studied at the Glasgow School of Art. The latest collection is inspired by 1920’s sportswear and features innovative prints, structural silhouettes and randomised pattern cutting referencing cubism.



Anita Nemkyova

Slovak designer Anita Nemkyoza, a graduate of the University of Glamorgan in Cardiff, creates unique and empowering leather accessories that accentuate the strong female form. She aims to celebrate traditional craftsmanship and heritage while creating futuristic, alien structures, combining Italian leather with laser-cut perspex that she designs straight onto a 3D form. 



Shauni Douglas

The ‘urban cowboy’ inspired collection by this Edinburgh menswear designer caught my eye as ideas about belonging and contrasts between rich and poor created a strong, gang-inspired aesthetic. Douglas was the winner of the Graduate Fashion Week Prize for Best Menswear Collection June 2013.



Charlie May

I actually first found out about this London-based designer in 2012 when I took part in a Fashion Styling course at Central St Martins and the class were taken to visit Charlie May in her studio to see the designs behind the scenes. I was immediately taken by the rich textures juxtaposed with origami-style structural silhouettes. May now creates regular collections for both women and men with a contemporary minimalist feel.

Who are your designers to watch this year? Let me know in the comments!

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx


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The Inconvenient Truth Behind Fashion and Beauty Products

As you may know I am trying to direct my blog in a much more ethical direction, featuring sustainable, locally made fashion and beauty products and brands with strong values that they stick by. 
As you also may know, I am currently studying at Heriot Watt School of Textiles and Design, and this semester I have been delighted to see that as a university they are integrating ethics into the fashion courses, because they realise that fashion is one of the most environmentally and socially damaging industries in the world, and that we as the new generation of workers need to have sustainability in mind with every decision we make in this industry.
With this in mind, after a series of lectures on textiles, I have been thinking about doing more regular posts on the impacts of the apparel production cycle, and also some more on cruelty-free beauty, as when talking with my classmates I am totally shocked as to how few people know about the impact of their everyday purchases. I hope you find this post useful, and let me know in the comments your views on ethical fashion and beauty!



Many toothpastes, body scrubs and cleansers contain tiny pieces of plastic called microbeads, which are often used for their exfoliation purposes. Lately they’ve had a lot of press because the US, Canada and hopefully the UK are banning the use of microbeads in manufactured products because of their catastrophic environmental impact. These tiny particles don’t get properly filtered through our sewerage systems, so they enter the oceans in mass, polluting the seawater and causing damage to the lives of sea creatures. They are not biodegradable so exist in our waters infinitely, getting passed up and down the food chain and threatening the health of all animals, humans included, as they are unintentionally consumed.

Animal Testing

It goes without saying, for the majority of people, that testing human cosmetics on living animals is unnecessary and cruel. Most countries, the UK included, outlaw the sale of any hair and beauty products tested on animals, so you’d think there’d be no worries there, however, the laws in China, one of the largest global beauty markets, are radically different in that any cosmetics sold there have to be tested on animals to ‘ensure human safety’ or some BS. That means any brand selling in China, which is, in our global economy, most conglomerate brands like L’oreal, Procter and Gamble etc, test their products on innocent, sentient creatures, which more often than not leads to death.

Toxic Chemicals

Potentially harmful (to health and the environment) chemicals are often hidden behind deceitful names like ‘fragrance’, ‘colour’ or ‘thickening agent’ on the labels of our beauty products, or given highly scientific aliases that the average consumer has no clue about and will be unlikely to look into. Many of these chemicals are carcinogens (cancer-causing), toxic to sensitive skin, cause hormonal imbalance, contain heavy metals or can contaminate water supplies which impact the whole ecosystem. I recommend watching ‘The Human Experiment’ on Netflix to get more insight into the inconvenient truth behind many of our chemical-ridden consumer products. Try and shop from natural and organic brands where possible.


Sweatshop Labour

Since the Rana Plaza disaster of 2013, many people have woken up to the horrors of fast fashion production in developing countries, but there is still a long way to go. Many factory workers that make the cheap, disposable clothes we buy from the high street are paid below a realistic living wage and work in shocking conditions with long hours and no breaks. Find out more about who made your clothes at Fashion Revolution, and watch the documentary True Cost.

Unethical Textiles

Those Gucci loafers everyone is wearing this season? Kangaroo fur. They even operate their own python farms for snakeskin handbags. Yup. Gucci is just one of many examples of brands that extensively exploit animals so that they can position their products at a high-end, exclusive, luxury price point. 

Eco-unfriendly Dyeing and Finishing

Dyeing and finishing, at any stage from fibre to end garment, is an extremely thirsty process, with one pair of denim jeans taking around 7,000 litres of water to produce.The way mass-produced textiles are dyed regularly pollutes large bodies of water, threatening the safety of the drinking water, and even endangering marine species. The finishing used to create an anti-crease shirt, formaldehyde, is a toxic carcinogen that if exposed to human skin can cause severe blistering and burns.

The Alternatives

Fake Leather, Faux Fur and new Eco-Textiles
Traditionally, synthetic ‘leather’ or fake ‘fur’ were of really poor quality, but advances in technology mean that you can get pretty close to the real thing, for a much more affordable price and a much greater ethical conscience. I love my faux leather jacket by Mandi Candi Boutique in Dundee, and I’m also fascinated by the new mushroom and pineapple leathers!
Cruelty-Free Cosmetics

Boycotting the Chinese market is a brave step for brands to make in today’s global economy, but to stay true to animal-friendly values, there are plentiful ways to ensure beauty products are safe for human use without compromising the lives of innocent, sentient beings. There are also loads of vegan alternatives for the animal products utilised in make up and toiletries, like milk, honey and gelatine products. I love White Rabbit Skincare for their totally cruelty-free and vegan moisturisers.

Sustainably Sourced Natural Fibres

I think an absolutist, ‘veganzi’ attitude toward natural animal and vegetable fibres such as cotton, silk and cashmere is unrealistic, because these textiles come from a huge variety of sources, some more ethical and organic than others, and not in every case are animals treated inhumanely or killed, so its worth doing your research, and consuming only in moderation. I love Cross Cashmere for their total supply chain control and thorough knowledge of the cashmere fibre and how to create lasting, sustainable products.

Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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Nu Blvck on Sustainability and Transparency

Yesterday I took a trip to Many Studios in Glasgow where women accessories brand Nu Blvck is based to shoot some street style looks with photographer Holly May Wesley alongside Hannah Louise Baxter (the designer of Nu Blvck’s latest collection, Icon Revived) and famed Scottish fashion stylist Kirsty Halliday of I’ll Be Your Mirror.

 In the freezing cold Barrowlands we had an absolute ball taking pictures with the gorgeous bags and scarves, which of course ended up being a prosecco party back at the office. I can’t wait to see the results, but for now I thought I’d post a little bit of the conversation I had with Rebecca Flory and Andrew Vincent, founders of Nu Blvck, focussing on their sustainable business model, and their plans to change the fashion industry for good.

How does your business model differ from the standard way the fashion industry operates?

RF Our business model is completely different from any fashion brand we know, and thats what sets us apart. Constantly working with new designers means we’re always going to have something different for people. Its a seasonal cycle with regular new collections but with a slow fashion philosophy.
AV The traditional retail model would go from design to production in a very corporate, detached kind of way. The result of that is large stockpiles of clothing, made cheaply as each collection is a risk, so it can then be heavily discounted when it doesn’t sell. This produces masses of waste in the supply chain, with clothing ending up in landfill as it no longer holds any value. A lot of the cheap clothing that is being produced is encouraging people to buy more and more instead of buying better. Our model flips this on its head by not making anything until its purchased, a demand-based model which involves the customer in the design process to an extent, eliminating waste products. 
How important is transparency in the supply chain, and is that something today’s customers demand?

AV Massively so, people are demanding transparency, throwing out the old model and bringing in the new. I guess every trend in nearly every market, even thing like banking, shows that people, particularly the millennial consumer, want to have information from around the world at their fingertips. In the information age people finally want to know the origins of their £2 Primark t-shirt. The internet has definitely helped to bring about that change in attitudes, the world will become much smaller. Becca and I have travelled to and seen the squalor where these fast fashion products are made, we know what goes in to making something, and documentaries and films like True Cost are helping to highlight that, which was really the inspiration to start Nu Blvck.

What’s your opinion on ‘greenwashing’? (brands jumping on the hype of being sustainable and making claims just to appeal to a new market, not considering the actual environmental and social impact, such as H&M promoting their organic cotton collection while still continuing to use sweatshop labour) and is sustainability being hijacked?

RF I think big brands are realising that there is a shift in consumer perception and are adapting their business to suit that, whereas smaller businesses like ours are just genuinely trying to do things differently and make things better in the world, knowing that the consumers will follow. It wouldn’t be possible for companies like H&M and Zara to grow so rapidly without compromising the environment, but we definitely have ambitions to be a big brand, growing in a more sustainable way. To get to that level we would have to fundamentally change the way we operate; its a business choice based on values.

The traditional fashion cycle, trickle-down trends and retail models have changed dramatically in recent years. Do you think that fashion weeks and the seasonal cycle still apply today?
RF Because fashion is so global now and people buy online from all around the world with different climates and cultures, so seasonal collections from big brands are not really relevant anymore. In terms of the see-now-buy-now thing, I actually had a twitter argument with Susie Bubble over this, because I didn’t think that Burberry’s new model was actually that revolutionary, it just makes more sense. 

AV Every brand makes something, and then tries to sell us it instantly. Like, welcome to the 21st century! Fashion is very slow to innovate. What we are doing shouldn’t be unusual but it is. Going down to London fashion week, the elitism is just the oddest thing ever; 100 people sitting in a room deciding what the world wears, it shouldn’t be the case. What we’re doing is creating products in a collaborative way from the bottom up.

RF At the same time, trends are still relevant, and thats unlikely to change. Our current collection was completely conceptualised by Hannah (Baxter, the designer) but the colour palette and the stripes just happened to fit with current trends, so the products have been popular, especially the pastel pink leather grab bag. But trends aren’t the basis for the design, its quality. There is definitely a consumer trend at the moment of buying into ethical fashion, but this genuinely came from a place of wanting to recognise and celebrate independent, artisan craftsmanship.

What does sustainability in fashion mean to you?

AV We see ourselves as sustainable because we use only the highest possible quality of materials to produce products that people actually have demand for, made by skilled artisans who are paid a fair wage. Fast fashion in its current state is basically just enslaving working and killing craft, so we are trying to help bring it back to life, while building a community with connections between people in the industry, eventually worldwide. The world’s biggest resource is people at the end of the day, and I think thats lost a lot in other so-called sustainable brands. In Bangladesh the average garment worker is being paid about a quarter of a reasonable living wage, theres a real issue there. We want to operate as sustainably as we can but by creating collections that people want to buy, not because its sustainable but because of its great design; bridging that gap. Thats how you change the world!






Ruth @ Urbanity xxx

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