A few years back an idea was born during a period of reflection in the hills of a lush Thai island. It was here that Melbournians, Lane and Adele Palmer decided to create a range of beautiful non-temporal pieces, including clothing, bags and kaftans.
What came next was Lane Palmer Green.
Largely inspired by the effortless grace and laissez-faire style of European women, LPG is not only functional and easy on the eye, but also managers to fit the caper of being environmentally friendly. This is by far no easy feat, but the ladies at LPG seem to pull it off with aplomb, all the while being morally responsible fashionably clad.
Their ethos, 'we love fashion, we love function, we love green', essentially says it all.
And despite creating their label in one of the world's most fashionable cities (Melbourne) they ask that when one commits to a piece from the LPG range, that they subscribe to a feeling rather than a fashion. When I ask what the LPG woman is like, I am told that she, 'dresses for herself, not for others'.
This concept has me captivated, as it seems dressing for others, for fashion or fad, is something that I and undoubtedly many others, fall victim to, often in our lives. Intrigued I tracked down Lane Palmer in order to delver further into a world filled with swatches of silk, hemp and organic cotton...
The birth of LPG//How did the idea come about?
I've always had an interest in clothing and a sustainable lifestyle. I had a dream of combining these two elements of my life into a business. It took quite a lot of research before we got it off the ground.
Collating a collection//How do the initial workings of a collection begin?
We look to film, art and design to influence our work. Adele and I begin sketching and making notes of the shapes, colours and themes we are interested in separately. We then meet and collaborate, often finding that we are on the same page.
It's a very organic and flexible process. At the early stages of the design process we work closely with a dying specialist; a lot of experimentation occurs when working with the botanical dyes. Often we will have a print concept or colour in mind and through the sampling stage it will change completely as we are shown different swatches.
The Lane Palmer Green woman//What might she be like?
She is of any age, but her mindset is timeless and she enjoys an open minded attitude to life. Her interest is in the beauty and practicality of individual pieces, rather than the latest trends and fads. She dresses for herself, not for others.
Environmentally conscious, fashionably clad//How important is it to design and produce environmentally friendly pieces?
It really is very important to us both. We want to extend this ethos of 'treading lightly on the earth' to our work.
Selecting process and material which are environmentally responsible is certainly a challenge. Unfortunately sourcing great fabrics that are environmentally responsible is quite difficult, particularly in Australia. We are still learning how to best be green, and we don't always get things 100%. However, we set out to create a brand that was different from the mass market and we are committed to this.
Material World//What kind of materials do you tend to choose when it comes to your designs?
We use a lot of organic cotton and 100% silk in our ranges. I love hemp, and this is used for shoes and bags. We are looking at using hemp/recycled PET fabrics for our clothing, as it is already used to line some of our bags.
We consider the environment in our design process as well. For example we have a tshirt and a dress with detachable beaded sleeves. This way, not only do you get to wear a garment in two different ways, but the detachable beading means the garment can be washed rather than dry cleaned.
Island inspirations//You have said that you are often inspired by summer time wanderings around Europe. Where is your favourite place to draw inspiration?
I got a lot of inspiration in Salina, Sicily. I have always wanted to go there as it featured heavily in one of my favourite books, The Leopard. There was a real clarity to the light there; cobalt blue skies, white buildings, bougainvillea, cactus and grape vines. Very simple and energising.
Paris is always a source of inspiration, just the beauty of the buildings, the art and the city's history is such a joy. Last time I was there, a friend and I took bikes, rode all through Paris to the woods and felt like we were in the countryside.
Walk this way//The gladiator sandal wedges are to die for. Is this your first foray into footwear?
They are really comfortable as well! And yes this is our first footwear venture. We work closely with an Australian maker in Indonesia who does a lot of footwear in Italy and collaborate on using the hemp in a completely unexpected way.
Future, its a time to think//What's next on the agenda for LPG?
We are researching new fabrics and dye methods and ways to streamline our process for minimal environmental impact. We are very excited that our winter range will include some 100% wool knits made in Australia from Australian wool.