“Upcycling is Limitless”: The Sustainable Studio 

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As part of The Future is in Our Hands campaign, we spoke to the founders of The Sustainable Studio, Julia and Sarah, about the inspiration and challenges involved with working sustainably. 

Who are some of your favourite sustainable designers or clothing brands?

Sarah highlighted her love for Vivienne Westwood: “I think she was the catalyst for me going into fashion, but that was back before she was trendy. I think that she is a revolutionary designer. She just always does something ahead of her time, and she didn’t really care about what people think – I like that about her. While I’m designing, I like to take that thinking into my own work”.

Sarah also mentioned supporting local and Welsh brands such as Hiut Denim, which offer free repairs for life. 

Julia shared her journey of shopping sustainability over the years. “Growing up, I was always into surf and skate vibes so I would always go for Howies – a Welsh brand. More recently, over the last 5 years, I’ve probably just shopped at charity shops. Patagonia are a great company, but I’ve never bought new, I’ve only ever owned that second-hand”. 

She continues, “When we were starting out, there was a brand called Good One who were really cool. They were mashing up and making new styles. She was one of the co-founders of Fashion Revolution, and we always followed her”. 

When it comes to thinking about other sustainable fashion designers and clothing brands, Julia admitted “I just like checking in every now and again and seeing what people are up to. We’re always looking at new developments in fabric technology, like recycled polyester. I think it’s good to always be on the look out for what’s happening next because there’s loads of developments lately”. Sarah added, “you can take inspiration from high-end designers and bring it into your own brands, especially with upcycling – it’s limitless”!

The story of DA-TI

Sarah and Julia have a brand called DA-TI

“We had another brand before DA-TI called Zolibeau which means beautiful beautiful. We called it that because we wanted to take things that were going to be discarded and turn them into beautiful items. That was the beginning of DA-TI and was our experimentation of the brand”, Sarah explained. 

“We thought about how we could take upcycling and turn it into something more commercial. We then set the studio up which took a lot of time, during which we had a little bit of a rebrand. Covid-19 hit, and we had time to refocus and have a play with this  joint project”. 

And that’s when the new DA-TI was born. Sarah continued, “DA-TI are Welsh words that mean ‘good on you’, so everything we produce is about looking good on you, feeling good about yourself and being made ethically and sustainably”.

When asked about their most challenging creations, Sarah shared that it was a jacket made when experimenting with origami. “I was folding fabric and made lots of samples that didn’t go quite right. I wouldn’t give up. I was determined I was going to do something with this. So, I ended up making a jacket made from a mac we found in a charity shop which I mixed with colourful fabrics made from origami”. 

Impressively, they also “made a costume for Owain Wyn Evans last year, and we had to turn it around in two weeks. It was for a production called GALWAD, a big thing on Sky Arts. We’d never done costume before”!

So, what exactly is Dati? Sarah responded, “we’re not just one thing, we’re multidimensional. We’ve experimented a lot with different things. We’ve worked with many different people like musicians and designed bespoke outfits. We try to change things by working with different people. Otherwise it becomes a bit stagnant and boring. We like pushing the boundaries”.

Related Information

The Future is in our Hands is a campaign run in collaboration with Bloedd Amgueddfa Cymru, a collective working alongside 16–25 year olds to experiment, create and innovate.

We talked to Julia and Sarah, the founders of The Sustainable Studio, about attitudes shifting and how to embrace sustainable fashion. Read about it.

Sarah and Julia have an exhibition coming up next month that is exploring what other designers in Wales are doing and what the future looks like to them. 

The Sustainable Studio is currently hosting an exhibition called Reframing Sustainable Fashion. The exhibition runs from 09 February to 11 March 2023 at Urban Crofters, 24 Crofts Street, Cardiff CF24 3DZ.

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