The sustainable collection made using clothing from Ghanian markets
Collina Strada and Browns’ exclusive capsule collection is created using t-shirts from Ghanian markets destined for landfill, created in association with The OR Foundation
When it comes to pushing the boundaries of sustainable fashion, few brands have been as committed to the cause as Collina Strada – one of the three ascendant labels in New York, which we have profiled in our September ‘Style Special’ issue, which hits global newsstands this week. Originally founded by designer Hillary Taymour as a line of handbags and accessories back in 2009, today’s Collina Strada has become an experimental platform for highlighting social issues and creating awareness in exciting wearable form.
This week, Collina Strada unveils an exclusive capsule collection, developed for Browns in London, which builds upon the ideas Taymour explored in her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection. Made by repurposing discarded secondhand clothing purchased at Ghana’s Kantamanto market in Accra that originated from the United States, both collections are a critique of the waste and pollution that comes with the used goods economy.
Access to the fabrics was made possible through Taymour’s ongoing partnership with The OR Foundation, a US-based non-profit organisation disrupting the dominant consumer relationship with fashion. Dedicated to researching and exposing the ecological impacts of the fashion system, the foundation’s research project ‘Dead White Man’s Clothes’ – a literal translation of the Akan phrase for ‘second hand clothing’ – shines a light on the fact that over 15 million items of clothing from North America passes through Kantamanto every week for recycling, but around 40% leaves the market as waste, ending up in Ghana’s landfills, informal burn piles or even cast out to sea.
‘I wanted to help bring awareness to the OR foundation and design pieces that can be sold online completely out of second hand waste,’ explains Taymour of how the collaboration came to be. ‘Every piece in this collection is made from t-shirts purchased in Ghana, [which] made it to the Katamanto markets that would eventually end up in a landfill. I went through hundreds of tees and individually laid out where each one would go on each garment with the pattern.’
Each pieces in the capsule collection is conceived with an ease of wear. ‘[They’re] easy comfortable pieces that can go from day to night,’ she asserts. ‘These were all hand dyed and painted for the collection using interchangeable tie dyes [that] I have used throughout normal Collina Strada collections. Each garment is sewn locally and garment dyed in Bushwick.’
The garments are individually treated with an organic grid motif, which Taymour calls ‘Pool’. ‘I really am drawn to its fluid feeling as a dye,’ she shares. ‘It still feels like a tie-dye, without it necessarily screaming The Grateful Dead.’
Holly Tenser, Browns’ womenswear buying manager, adds, ‘Hillary is one of the most relevant designers when it comes to conscious fashion. Her complete respect for the environment and the world we live in has been an integral part of her brand and ethos. She works with leftover fabrics to make her clothes and manages to draw prints or mix colours that are so powerful and unique, creating clothes that are instantly identifiable which is such an important attribute.’
To fully close the circle, Collina Strada will be donating a percentage of the wholesale cost – an amount that Browns has pledged to also match - to The OR Foundation. §