Hobbs Fashion show is a one-off event in Bristol’s busy social calendar, and this February the infamous smorgasbord of local artists, hair stylists, designers and musicians returns to the Passenger Shed on 6 February.

On the line up will include a huge range of talented and passionate fashion designers – including Katcha Bilek and Eco Design from Linda Thomas. Professionally trained in medicine, Linda now maintains a multi-faceted working life, as both a doctor, a healer and also a fashion designer. She feels that her work, in whatever domain, springs from one key ingredient – and that is, her love for people and the planet.

Her designs are all created using upcycled materials which Linda sources from her favourite charity shops around Bristol. In using fabrics that are second hand, Linda is able to ethically and sustainably produce clothing that neither wastes or adds to the already hefty pile of textile surplus across the world.

“Because I made the decision to upcycle rather than just buy organic material, I really want to close this loop. 1.5 million tonnes of textile waste goes into landfill each year – on top of everything else too. So I scour charity shops. I have particular ones that really suit my ethos too.”  Linda explains.

Upcycling everything from satin wedding dresses to hard-to-find fabrics, Linda has managed to create fashion items with a practical edge. Drawing on her personal needs and inspirations, she aims to offer her customers graceful designs that can blend to various situations – always with the source of the fabric in mind:

“As I’ve developed as a person and saw what I wanted in my life, different things became clearer. When I was pregnant with my son, ten years ago, I read an article in The Ecologist about non-organic cotton – I was shocked to read that the crop that uses the most pesticides is cotton. That moment changed everything. Once you know that information, you can’t not know it. I made the decision that I would never shop in a normal shop for normal clothing again. So I would only buy organic fabrics from that day on.” Linda explains.

“I love the locations around Bristol – there are some great urban settings as well as natural spaces.”

Linda’s designs are both beautiful and practically customised, including a skirt designed with the style-conscious cyclist in mind. Using upcycled materials including cashmere, merino, silk and linen, Linda adds her own touch with hand felted features such as collars, using merino wool and silk and finished with vintage or handmade buttons. They’re always one of a kind, and reflective of her own individuality:

“I have myself in mind, I want to have something for lots of different occasions in my life, and all of that has to be sustainable for me. But likewise, also something that will be suitable for going out in the evening.”  She says.

This year at the Hobbs Fashion Show, Linda Thomas will be showcasing her work to reflect the ethos behind Hobbs Hair Design, with a few surprises thrown in, too:

“I’ve got a black, recycled bin-bag dress. Just keep an open mind. Of all the things I have made so far, that one has been the one that has really wowed people!” Linda laughs.

It’s not often you can literally live and breathe your lifestyle as truly to the core, as Linda does – not only does she create designs with fully sustainable roots, she is also an advocate of eco-friendly travel, and lives her life with her husband and ten year old son, with an outward thinking approach:

“When I made the decision to change my buying habits I thought it would be really hard – but it was one of the easiest things that I have ever done. I could never order in a new fabric for my designs, now.”  Linda says.

Linda’s inspirations come from a river of many sources, and there’s just no telling where her next idea might spring from. Although she tends to travel closer to home these days, it was a vividly memorable trip to India that stuck in her mind and acted as the catalyst to her work, as Linda recalls:

“I’m just in the middle of nowhere and a design comes out of nowhere. When I did travel further afield, to India – you might go along a dust track, see people working the land, wearing bright orange and bright red – I find that incredible. I love that.”

Her own designs are elegant and have a flowing feel to them – and this could be, in part, down to her open mindedness and love of welcoming in all kinds of influences to her creative work, as she explains:

“I went to a Greek exhibition in the British Museum recently. They used to oil their silk in order to drape over the body, so that inspired my designs. I might wake up with a vision of what I am going to design. That can be triggered by anything.”

“People let me right into their world, and from that you get a great love of humanity.”

Bristol is a favourite haunt of Linda’s when scouring the charity shops for fabrics, as well as its wide range of locations for shooting her work:

“I love the locations around Bristol – there are some great urban settings as well as natural spaces. I feel we’ve got no shortage at all. We recently did a shoot with Damien Lovegrove in the Bristol textile recycle building.  It was in this huge, messy warehouse but it really worked! Ashton Court is also great. We’ve got lots of wonderful locations.”

Linda truly embodies her style, to each detail of her life – wearing her own designs, shopping organically, travelling economically and ensuring that she leaves as benign a footprint on the planet as possible. She would be the first to admit that her work in medicine and as a healer has filtered through to her design work and the ethos she applies to this aspect of her life:

“My approach is really very simple and it is about love. I love the planet and I love people. I get a really privileged intimacy with people when I am doing healing work or working as a GP. People let me right into their world, and from that you get a great love of humanity. I really get that most people, at their core, are really actually amazing people – and kind. And sometimes on the surface we don’t always do things that reflect that. And that really spurred me on with the fashion. About being able to stand up and say, look, this is where this is coming from.” Linda explains.

Working alongside Doug Hobbs for this year’s Hobbs Fashion Show has been a real honour for Linda, who brims with creative ideas in this situation and feels the spark of inspiration unstoppable. At this stage, the details of her part in the show are yet to be fully revealed, but she will be showcasing at least seven unique designs at the event.

Linda Thomas’ Inspirations

“I’ve got my eye on a few people who inspire me – if I am inspired by what they do, that really sets me off. I really like Emma Thompson and the work that she has done with Green Peace – I’d love to design a dress for her. I think she is a really inspiration woman. Also Emma Watson and her work with womens’ rights.”

Linda Thomas Eco Design Hot Tips

“Before you go out charity shopping, make sure you are really clear in your mind of what you are searching for on that day – it makes an immense difference.”

Linda Thomas Eco Design: www.lindathomasecodesign.co.uk

For more information on Hobbs Fashion Show:  www.hobbs-style.co.uk

Photo credits:
Photographer – Damien Lovegrove
Designer – Linda Thomas Eco Design
Stylist – Sue Fyfe-Williams
MUA – Linda Wong
Hair Stylist – Amelia Shorter – The Styling Lounge
Models – Ella and Sienna
Location – Bristol Textile Recyclers