Karen Radley in coversation with Diana Irani, founder of Conditions Apply

Shoreditch based Conditions Apply derives its name from “Conditions” are necessary to be “Apply”ed for an honest contract between ourselves, our environment, customers and suppliers. CA has a clean, contemporary and feminine aesthetic, working with innovative recycled organic and mostly biodegradable fibres including; Rose Petal, Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Banana, Milk, Orange, Soya Bean and Bamboo.

Diana, what is your fashion background? 

My roots are based in weaving and textiles. I did my undergrad at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, India which was set up by Charles and Ray Eames in the 60’s. Classic Scandi influence was notable, even when I was there in the 90’s, but I was keen to explore and tap into the incredible variety of skills and know-how available in the country. It was the start of a quest to empower craftmanship, in the wider sense of the term, and how to reinterpret this know-how for the current age.
For my further studies, I joined Central St Martins, before doing my M.Phil at the RCA where I researched micro-encapsulation of herbal properties in textiles for “clothes that heal”, but was advised by the then Browns buyer to “drop the medicine and keep on making beautiful clothes” at the graduation show, I obliged and set up my first label, Bl^nk.
When did you start Conditions Apply? 

Conditions Apply was set up as a second line in 2007 for myself to be free from the commercial pressures and expectations that are inherent to the industry. I like to look at it as an experimentation space where I can more intimately follow my personal designer values.
The aim was not just about sustainable “compliance” but to push boundaries and revisit the terms at which we do fashion: My terms and “Conditions” would “Apply”. Full ethical transparency from source to end product was always at the heart of the company due to our verticality, but we increasingly looked at clean, sustainable fabrics and processes.However, ensuring that this is not at the cost of the desirability of the end product.
How does the Japanese "Wabi Sabi” philosophy - accepting your imperfections and making the most of life - fit into your collections? 

The Wabi Sabi school of thought is something that I feel is now more important then ever. (although not necessarily under the strict sophisticated Japanese form). After years of mad overproduction and rampant waste in our industry, as well as others, I believe that there is an awakening to the fact that simple but well-crafted and cherished pieces can be more pleasurable then a wardrobe full of mass-produced items.
A long term view on well-crafted products that truly enriches our daily lives does end up being a lot more satisfying (which may include the imperfections of mending and repairing) then the short term and shallow temporary gratification offered by the high street.
Such products are handmade, with a high attention to detail and even if industrial tools and high end cutting edge technology are used, there is still a human touch and therefore some minute imperfections. I always loved the concept of the weavers of the Jamawar’s who after years of weaving that one unique piece, would knowingly make a little “mistake” so as to not compete with the perfection of God.
Did you always believe in adopting a sustainable and artisan approach to your collection? 
The vertical setup of the companies has enabled us to build long term and direct relationships, with some of our makers being with us for over 15 years. It is an investment that requires dedication and a long term approach that goes well beyond standard employment and ethical work practices.
Every piece being made to order, we are making sure that we don’t overproduce, but give every one of these items the attention they deserve. I personally enjoy the working relationship with artisans and hate putting myself on the “designer pedestal”. The give and take that ensues from a fruitful collaboration is truly gratifying, there is always something I learn from this creative approach and I believe that it translates into a holistic product.
In the current context, we are aiming at reinterpreting craft, and we are attempting to do so by investing in new high-end tools and technology. One of the latest additions to these was a specialist digital printing machine that has been engineered to match the most stringent sustainability standards, reducing water usage and only using the smallest quantities of special ink. However, we still use our industrial tools for small batch productions and always do so in the wider context of human interaction. This way, we aim at creating products with soul.
I love all the interesting sustainable fibres you have used in the current collections. Can you tell me the process of developing these fabrics? 
I was myself very intrigued when discovering our new fabrics. Each one of the base materials has a very specific story, but they all share the common starting point. Whether orange peels, banana bark or the aloe vera fibres, all are by products of the food industry that would otherwise be discarded, burnt or simply dumped in landfill.

Many experts are lauding the “circular economy” as the future, but before the industrial age, it was just common sense to reuse waste wherever possible and ensure that resources were sparingly used. In this case, the natural fibres are being processed into fabrics that are not only gentle to the skin, but organic, certified and responsibly sourced for that extra feel good factor
Can you share any new fabric and design ideas for Autumn 2020? 

The collection is still under wraps and there is only so much I can share at this stage, but we are surely building on the success of new sustainable fabrics introduced last season. The challenge is to reinvent these for a transitional as well as winter product, but we are also experimenting with new yarns for a new GOTS certified organic wool and cashmere capsule. This is a direction we are very excited about, and are very much looking forward to present these at upcoming Scoop.
We’re looking forward to seeing you and your new collection at Scoop this season! What is your favourite thing about Scoop and why are you exhibiting with us this season? 

Scoop is one of our favourite shows; we joined at its very first iteration. We absolutely feel aligned with its values; the focus on quality rather then quantity is a key aspect of what we do and therefore feel very much part of the Scoop story.

Meet Diana and discover the Conditions Apply collection at Scoop AW20 this February, located, for one season only, at the iconic Old Billingsgate.