We spoke with Irina, founder of Origins Of Hearts, a super conscious resort wear brand that combines rich ethnic heritage with sustainability, to find out more about the brand and how festival goers can take steps to reduce the environmental impact of their Glastonbury wardrobe.
I grew up living for fashion and music, while being an active member of most urban tribes in the 90s. I later made fashion my job. I held a corporate role for many years, working for some of the world’s leading fashion brands, like Burberry and Nike.
I later transitioned into a role in haute couture. The industry changed with the birth of fast fashion – competition became bigger, companies started to multiply and the environment started to endure more damage as a result of human demand. With that, I no longer found that my values aligned with the industry.
So I discovered my ultimate passion for adventure, I traveled to challenging destinations and explored remote tribes and communities around the world – the type who live in extremely rough conditions. Spending time with locals and seeing how life contrasts in places such as Papua New Guinea, Tibet, Kenya, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Iran and Morocco – places where on many occasions, I lived with no running water and electricity
Not only did these experiences open up my eyes to the challenges these communities face, but also to the great artists and craftsmen these people are. I wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between these communities and western society, and introduce ethical collections that carry the ethnic heritage of the place where they were made.
The main reason Origin of Hearts (OOH.) was born was to create sustainable economic opportunities for talented artisans and their families in remote areas of the world. Places where people are born and live their lives in environments that don’t offer much choice.
My main objective with OOH. is to inspire sustainability, as an emerging behaviour in contemporary social circles and build a bridge that connects us to the ‘other side’. It gives everyone an opportunity to contribute to a cause, while receiving quality craftsmanship, and a timeless product.
First and foremost, we take pride in working with incredibly creative craftsmen, paying fair trade and creating a life changing impact on their whole communities, instead of supporting business owners and working with factories at much lower cost of production. We craft our pieces by hand using a clean production process in an environmentally and ethically-conscious manner.
We also donate 5% of the profit of each sold item to support orphanages on the island. We are financially involved in supporting the building of a daycare centre for children with disabilities. I am personally involved in the process, by assuming various responsibilities, and spending time with the kids: teaching, playing or attending to their needs.
On a design level, and this is where I like to I think big, we create contemporary, yet timeless, unisex pieces in quality fabrics and classy patterns. Fashion that you can wear and treasure forever.
I take a lot of inspiration from Japanese culture, not only with Origin Of Hearts but also in my personal life. Ever since I was young, zen minimalism and understanding wabi sabi have been important ways for me to achieve clarity, mental space, and direction in life. This is incorporated into all aspects of OOH. including the brand’s philosophy and our collections. The pieces represent fluidity and flexibility giving individuals the feeling of freedom, no matter your age or body type.
Each piece carries the signature of the country they were made in and, in my belief, the heart and love of the local artisan who helped craft it. The collections transport you to their origin not just through a physical possession, but also on a behavioural level.
For me, the most important identifying factor for recognising conscious brands, is where and who it is made by. Absolute transparency in disclosing who makes the garments is key to understanding whether buying this piece is helping someone, or contributing to another’s slavery.
Then, I investigate if the brand supports any causes and if they are involved in any type of activism or charitable projects. By having the opportunity to reach people through our sales and social media channels we have a powerful voice and, if a brand doesn’t use theirs to make the world a better place, outside of their own benefit, it says a lot.
Traveling is like reading – it opens up your mind to different perspectives and lets you experience other realities. It takes you out of your grid and comfort zone. Exposing yourself to different cultures and getting out of your own routine, resets you in a way, by challenging you to grow.
Seeing things you haven’t seen before expands the canvas of your life by bringing inspiration, reflection and, ultimately, wisdom. As Kerouac said,“The Road is Life” and Christopher McCandless described it in a letter to Ron Franz as:
“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
Festivals are, literally, the way our ancestors used to connect, preserve their cultural heritage, and have fun. I believe on a subconscious level this is precisely what happens at a festival: we get together with thousands of people we’ve never met and we blend into one big family for a few days. We sink into the magic and get transported to a world of timelessness. We get lost in the beauty and power of music, we have moments of reflection – we see the bigger picture.
I’m happy to see more and more festivals turning green and using their voice to change the world. A great example is Meadows In The Mountains which, besides being located within the beauty of some of the most picturesque Bulgarian mountains, it’s completely environmentally sustainable. Choosing how we party is an essential part of our duty as inhabitants of this planet.
I’ve experienced glamping in places like Kenya and Iceland, and I absolutely loved the experience. Some of the memories that stand out the most include hyenas coming around at night or sleeping at the edge of a cliff during a dark, stormy night.
Buy quality items and designs that are not so striking, but ones you can style on various occasions, creating a different look every time. You don’t need a striking piece of clothing at each festival that you never intend to wear again. You can be even more colourful, vibrant, original and exotic by styling a few timeless pieces. My advice is to not buy clothes for one occasion only, but to put more thought and effort into crafting a look with pieces you already own.
We live in equally exciting and fragile times for humanity. We need to understand that we are all one and everything is interconnected. We need to collectively take responsibility for others and for our planet. We need to understand that every choice we make – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the things we buy – has an immediate and direct impact on other people, on the Earth, and on the future of humanity.
My personal advice and encouragement is for everyone to practice mindfulness as much as they can, be kind to others, explore their creative side through art, find a cause close to their heart and dedicate time to it. And last but not least, have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously!