Fashion with Compassion: Behen Studio

This week, I interviewed Behen Studio, designed by Joana Duarte. Behen Studio creates dreamy and nostalgic feeling pieces with contemporary twist. Its playful, colourful and styled exquisitely - often with real fruit earrings! What’s not to like? Bedspreads and antique textiles are given second life in a completely ‘waste-less’ production ethos. Best of all I love that some of the fabrics are sourced from her Grandmother’s trunks. I was keen to learn more about the studio and how they arrived down this path.


1. How did you get the idea to use bedsheets to make clothing? It started during my master’s degree, I was focused on researching possible alternatives to the use of raw materials and on finding solutions to the current problems in the fashion industry. This research took me to India, where I spent three months interning at an ethical production company that works with Patagonia.


When I returned, I quickly found the same belief in our Portuguese culture, and specially in my family tradition as we still use the layette. In Portugal, old fabrics from the layette are kept religiously and passed on from one generation to the next. So, it was from this concept that BÉHEN was born and took shape. It’s not only bedcovers but also table cloths, doilies, etc


2. What would you say your job as a Fashion Designer is?

Not as glamours as everyone makes it look like. It’s difficult and a roller coast of emotions daily. You have to give your heart to the project and to make hard decisions constantly. But… it’s super fun to be in control of the project and to share it people who feel the same passion for the project.

3. How would you describe your artistic voice or point of view?

Still discovering my voice and learning everyday , but I guess my interest for sustainability, ethical production and political art is what helps me to formulate my point of view as a designer.

4. What advice would you give to a creative trying to find their own voice in their work?

Patience! It’s a hard journey but it’s definitely worth it. Try to create with a purpose, we don’t need more designers we need problem-solvers!

5. Can you tell me about a formative experience you had that lead you to your current path?

Volunteering and social activism is being part of my path since I was very young. During my master’s it evolved into a passion for political art and for ethical production which led to India and to what BÉHEN is today.

6. Can you tell us about something that was a disaster and something that you’re proud of?

I can say that I am proud for having found a balance for BÉHEN. A brand that cares about the planet but also about its people and empowering communities. When I started, I thought something like this was an impossible mission, but it’s been quite a journey and having so great feedback just with a couple months of existence.


I try to be as positive as possible, so I don’t consider that I had some sort of “disaster” they are opportunities to learn and to grow and all part of the process and of the bigger picture.

7. Do you have anything upcoming that you can tell us about or give us a tiny clue?

At the moment we are developing a collaboration with Levi’s. A small capsule collection made from older stock from their collections and transformed into new pieces. We used an ancient marbling technique in partnership with Ricardo Espirito Santo e Silva Foundation. It is planned to be releases very soon!

Quick fire questions:

1. Favourite place.

India


2. Favourite food

Chana Masala!!

3. Favourite studio snack

Hummus


4. What’s your working soundtrack right now?

SANA SANA – Nathy Peluso


5. What’s your favourite sketchbook and pen/pencil to hash out ideas with?

I don’t have a favorite sketchbook but the pages need to be clear white and a black pencil.

You can learn more about Behen Studio at their website and follow them on instagram @behen.studio. Be sure to follow me on instagram and don't miss the next in this series where I'll be catching up with the lovely Sophie Parnaby!