At the Beaute Study, we have been exploring the world of fashion for amazing women for their ingenuity and story. We met Shanna Bent, a fashion designer and founder of Maison Bent. She is an alumna of Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion and spent her time developing her craft at Alexander McQueen, Agent Provocateur, and Roland Mouret. Recently, she presented her 2021 Autumn and Winter collection at London Fashion Week.
Shanna as the founder of Maison Bent developed the motto of “femme du mode” for the brand. As a sustainable, luxury womenswear brand, this motto is something that we can all enjoy with the finery and luxury it brings with it hand-made quality. In this interview, learn more about Shanna, her passions for her work, and London Fashion Week.
Where did your love of fashion begin? Did you find it a challenge or a fun journey as a beginner in the fashion world?
I’ve been artistically inclined from a very young age. I used to draw, paint, work with mixed media, woodwork, etc. I developed an interest in fashion pre-adolescence and began venturing into textiles. I was so far removed from the industry having never stepped foot in a luxury shop and unable to name a single designer, I actually got my inspiration from hip-hop music videos and street-style back then and would customize my own clothes and accessories- so well that I would get asked what shop I bought them from. After 10 internships, 5 collective years at fashion school, and multiple jobs in Branding and Marketing, I felt it was important to start my own brand in response to a lack of diversity in the industry.
What is your current beauty routine? Do you have a different beauty practice set up during moments like London Fashion Week (LFW)?
If I’m honest, LFW is such a hectic time that I have zero time for self-care so any routine I had prior goes completely out the window. This is something I hope to fix in the future as the business grows as it’s important to always make time for your physical and mental well-being. I actually used to suffer from extreme acne and hyper-pigmentation so was taking Roaccutane for 1.5 years which was. a story in itself and have had to use specific products and SPF 50 for sensitive skin.
What inspires you to create a sense of luxury for women when they wear your clothing at the intersection of beauty and fashion?
I love luxury experiences and everyone deserves luxury experiences. I had my first luxury fashion experience during a university trip to Paris in 2009 and it was like nothing I had ever previously experienced.
Not only beauty is having a focus on sustainability, but fashion is as well. How do sustainable practices affect your business choices in moving into the industry as a luxury fashion house?
Sustainable practices have always been at the core of Maison Bent. London College of Fashion was great at educating us on sustainable practices, fabric developments, and processes. Many things we own are made unethically to keep costs down and are also non-biodegradable or non-recyclable meaning that once disposed of will end up in the ocean or another country used as the West’s dumping ground. A lot of items today are also intentionally made to not last a long time to encourage re-consumption like fast fashion – a very dangerous and disgusting cycle.
The future goal of Maison Bent is to have a completely circular business model and until this is met, it is impossible to be completely sustainable. We use an array of locally sourced fabrics to keep our emissions down, occasionally use end-of-line, and use as many natural fibers as possible. We currently have a made-to-order model in place at the moment until we are able to produce in larger quantities in response to demand. Many companies produce in large quantities and end up having to dispose of excess stock when they don’t sell. I think it’s vital as well to help educate the consumer on the manual labor that actually goes into making each item of clothing so that garments aren’t viewed as disposable and are actually cherished. This mindset can really help us to keep buying better and strive to look after the clothes we already have.
Before COVID hit London, you presented your first solo presentation. How was this experience, and how has it changed your outlook on your brand?
This was a big achievement and the start of an amazing journey. It was very scary creating my first solo presentation and very happy that a year later, it has opened to many opportunities.
Do you feel that the differences between London’s fashion cultural spaces to Paris to New York have affected the world of fashion and its designers like yourself?
I think it’s beautiful for each city to have its own embedded culture. London is great at championing young designers and encouraging sustainable practices like banning real fur from the catwalk and Paris to me, will always be the home of the great Couturiers.
What do you think the fashion industry can do better in terms of sustainability and adopting the fashion calendar per season?
Education & sacrifice. There needs to be a bigger emphasis on education around sustainability and the detrimental long-term effects of the industry on the Earth and these need to be implemented from the top down. It won’t be solved overnight as many companies need to meet the financial demands of their stakeholders and shareholders. Realistically, everyone needs to take accountability and make sacrifices in order to work towards a more sustainable future as big company analysis will need to take place, internal processes will need to change, products will need to adapt, what fabric research undertaken, etc.
Maison Bent gives women the opportunity to experience luxury sustainability for themselves. Shanna has not only met a need in the market space as a designer but she has used her Jamaican heritage as an influence on her designs. Here at TBS, we open the door to you to view Maison Bent’s AW21 collection here:
Fashion Film Credits: Leah Weller (Artist), Carone Hajny (Film Director), Michael Hobdell, Delenn Vaughan (Stylist), Alex OBrien (Colorist), Sunny Cradock (Film Makeup Artist), Mirielle W. Bagaye (Model), Vanessa David (Model) and Sponsor Cicarelli.