Scrap Book

More de­sign­ers are giv­ing used or dead stock ma­te­ri­als new lease on life BY Catlin Angew

Fashion (Canada) - - The Draw Sustainability Reboot -

When Cate Blanchett re-wore a four-year-old Ar­mani Privé gown to the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val this past May, she made a strong state­ment about cloth­ing waste, say­ing, “It seems wil­ful and ridicu­lous that such gar­ments are not cher­ished and re-worn for a life­time.” It’s a prag­matic at­ti­tude that re­source­ful de­sign­ers are tak­ing to the next level with up­cy­cled cloth­ing, where a sec­ond-hand item is remixed and reimag­ined into some­thing new. With an eye on sus­tain­abil­ity, de­sign­ers and con­sumers alike are re­ject­ing the idea that the life­span of a well-made gar­ment needs to be dic­tated by trends.

En­vi­ron­men­tally friendly as well as busi­ness savvy (73 per cent of mil­len­ni­als say they are will­ing to pay more for sus­tain­able goods, and vin­tage pieces are highly cov­etable in their own right), this what’ sold-is-new ap­proach has been adopted by buzzy brands around the world. At Zurich­based Vete­ments, founder Demna Gvasalia fash­ions new pieces from old Levi’s and vin­tage fur. Ital­ian fash­ion house Mis­soni re­cently cre­ated a lim­ited-edi­tion col­lec­tion of 25 pieces from up­cy­cled fab­ric, while Dutch cou­turi­ers Vik­tor & Rolf have re­pur­posed vin­tage gowns into their fan­ci­ful new cre­ations—their last two col­lec­tions were made us­ing only vin­tage dead-stock fab­rics. Known for mak­ing the ma­jor­ity of its cool-girl dresses with sus­tain­able fab­ric, Los An­ge­les-based Ref­or­ma­tion re­pur­poses vin­tage pieces for about 2 to 5 per cent of its col­lec­tions. The brand claims that re­man­u­fac­tured cloth­ing can save close to 6,000 kilo­grams of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions an­nu­ally.

In Canada, An­to­nio Tadrissi’s Toron­to­based fash­ion la­bel Dust of Gods was the an­swer to the all-too-com­mon dilemma of hav­ing too many clothes in his closet. Rather than get rid of them, he tapped his artist friend and now busi­ness part­ner An­thony Ric­cia­rdi to put a con­tem­po­rary spin on his beloved pieces. Trained as an ar­chi­tect, Tadrissi has since ex­panded his sourc­ing to army sur­plus stores and mar­kets like Not­ting Hill’s in Lon­don, Eng­land. He’ll scour denim jack­ets and mil­i­tary coats that he trans­forms with cus­tom patches, ta­pes­tries, paint and other em­bel­lish­ments like pho­tos of no­to­ri­ous celebri­ties and hand­writ­ten mes­sages. “I like to see things, break them, put them back to­gether and make them some­thing else,” Tadrissi says of his de­sign process. “Un­like for houses, where a pat­tern is made and fol­lowed, it just hap­pens—on the go.”

At Tri­archy’s head­quar­ters in Los An­ge­les, creative di­rec­tor Adam Tauben­fligel de­signs the brand’s Ate­lier Denim col­lec­tion en­tirely from re­pur­posed jeans he finds at vin­tage sup­pli­ers. He says that a long life­span is in denim’s DNA. “It’s a work­wear fab­ric—that’s what it is. It’s meant to be durable; it’s meant to last for­ever.” The one-of-a-kind pieces in the Ate­lier Denim col­lec­tion are made of fab­ric that’s typ­i­cally 20 or 30 years old, and the re­sults are em­blem­atic of the Tri­archy ethos: to make fewer, bet­ter things.

In Mar­i­ouche Gagné’s case, the fab­ric of choice is fur. Gagné es­ti­mates she’s res­cued about 100,000 fur coats since found­ing her la­bel, Har­ri­cana by Mar­i­ouche, in 1993. “Fur is prob­a­bly the best to re­cy­cle be­cause it lasts for al­most 200 years if it’s well kept,” she ex­plains, adding that a 1950s full-length mink coat can eas­ily be trans­formed into some­thing more suit­able for 21st-cen­tury liv­ing. It’s proof that in some cases, the right gar­ment can be cher­ished and re-worn for sev­eral life­times.

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