Green stuff: the fashion pieces scoring sustainable styling points
Fashion’s polluting impact on the environment has never been more in mainstream consciousness. From its unsustainable manufacturing methods to its wastage of plastics into our seas, the textile industry is in the throes of coming to terms with its status as an unenvironmentally friendly repeat offender. As brand’s consider the sustainable status of their supply chains and sync their environmental efforts with their production methods, we’ve zoomed in on some of the sustainable brands, projects and pieces getting the Wallpaper* green light, from accessories crafted from upcycled trainers, to sunglasses made from marine debris…
There’s something satisfying about seeing an accessory you love developing new idiosyncrasies over time, like the patina of a leather bag evolving over years of use, or marks and scratches acting as sentimental symbols of a memorable event. This is an emotion which London-based label Danse Lente is tapping into with its latest Rehome Project. For the initiative, the label are looking to find new owners for their bag designs – including the thick strapped Johnny bucket bag and the graphic Phoebe shoulder bag – which have small imperfections and are deemed unsellable on the shop floor. The accessories have been revamped in Lente’s London studio and are available to purchase from 16c Calvert Avenue until 2 September. After all, it’s our flaws which makes us most fascinating, especially when they’re environmentally inclined.
‘I really wanted to have the colours shine,’ says Bahrain born-and-based Hala Kaiksow of the hues in her recent ‘Al Qursan’ collection. Kaiksow shot its accompanying collection in Hatta, an hour and a half outside of Dubai, and the location’s remote and sandy plains complement the natural linens, silks, hand-woven camel’s wool and sheep’s wool in the collection. Kaiksow studied in both Italy and America, but she operates her artisanal label from Bahrain, hand weaving her creations on a manual loom. ‘The garments can take up to a few weeks to create,’ she says of her meticulous non-industrialised pace. For ‘Al Qursan’, Kaiksow was inspired by autumnal hues, and researched natural dyes which ‘retained a richness’ of her chosen colour palette. ‘I try to derive my pieces from traditional clothing patterns, and reimagine them for today’s consumer’ she says.
In North East London-based label Le Kilt’s online manifesto, founder Samantha McCoach lists ‘integrity’ and ‘vulnerability of raw materials’ as essential keywords. This sincerity is evoked in her label’s commitment to sustainability. Think an upcycling-focused aesthetic for A/W 2018, which sees denim and cashmere pieces patched with offcuts from the label’s kilts. McCoach, who is also fascinated with the concept of heritage (her knitwear and signature kilts nod to traditional shapes and uniforms), also collaborates with a host of independent factories and artisanal producers, including Blackhorse Lane in London’s Walthamstow and Scotland’s Sanquhar Knitters. Fittingly, she imagines her label as a family tree growing roots - one which is continuing to mature from an environmental standpoint.
Want Les Essentials
A recent viral video taken in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, of huge swathes of plastic washing ashore, highlights the shocking damage of plastic waste to our coastal environments. One accessories brand employing an innovative alternative to synthetic fibres is Montreal label Want Les Essentials. The brand uses Econyl, a fibre created from recycled nylon waste, like fish nets and carpets, in its designs. This crossbody ’Bryce’ bag taps into fashion’s penchant for sporty accessories, and is environmentally friendly too.
It took two years for Umberto De Marco, founder of Italian footwear label Yatay to develop his brand’s environmentally friendly trainers. The sleek and versatile styles, which are available in both high- and low-top shapes, feature an upper crafted from recycled fibre and bio-based resins, a biodegradable PU sole and organic cotton buttresses and toecaps. Details also have a sustainable focus, and include Italian hemp shoelaces and solvent-free linings. With specific focus on the impact of deforestation, Yatay will also plant a tree for every trainer purchased. A leaf motif sole nods to this nurturing approach; a truly soulful detail too.
In 1938, Salvatore Ferragamo designed the now renowned rainbow wedge for Judy Garland, a suede silhouette featuring a kaleidoscopic heel. Now, the house has reinterpreted the style with a sustainable slant. The updated ‘Rainbow Future’ wedge features a hand-finished platform in veritable wood, crafted in organic crocheted cotton, with a leather lining finished without using carbon dioxide emission or water consumption. Other eco-friendly flourishes include the use of water glue, non galvanised brass and 100 per cent recycled sewing thread. Ferragamo also have teamed up with fellow Florentines Treedom – the 2014-founded company which works with farmers on planting trees in order to bring environmental and social benefits to their communities. For the 100 pairs of shoes created, Treedom will plant 100 trees on the outskirts of Catania, Sicily. How’s that for an over-the-rainbow reward?
‘Carcel’, the Danish fashion brand operating in both Denmark and Peru, is Spanish for ‘Prison’. Far from a coincidence, the label relies on an unconventional partnership: Carcel’s Danish designs are hand-made by incarcerated women in Cusco, Peru. Louise van Hauen and Veronica D’Souza, the founders of Carcel, believe that sustainable fashion can play a role in ensuring imprisoned women are given fair wages (they pay their salaries directly) and the opportunity to learn new skills.
With products made of 100 per cent locally sourced baby Alpaca Wool, Carcel offers sustainable products that are functional, delicate and soft. The fashion brand has launched a batch of limited styles at NET-A-PORTER, placing focus on their ethical foundations: fair wages, local materials, and protecting the planet.
To eliminate waste, Carcel avoids stock by producing limited batches of styles, launching them one at time. The fashion brand, whose products each carry the name of the woman who made them, makes no compromises. Even as they grow, Carcel takes pride in the power of ‘slow fashion,’ and its role in promoting and protecting design, planet and people.
Outspoken and provocative, designer Katharine Hamnett is renowned for using fashion as a response to the socio-political and environmental issues. Hamnett’s legendary slogan t-shirts have challenged many cultural shifts, such as ‘58% Don’t Want Pershing’, ‘Clean Up Or Die’ and ‘Save The Future’.
Hamnett relaunched her brand in 2017, and in a fabric-focused protest against fast fashion and unsustainable manufacturing methods, its most recent collection uses organic or recycled fabrics, and has a military-inspired aesthetic. This A/W 2018 Will Parker, designed in collaboration with Italian jacket label Duvetica, is a 1982 re-issued shape, that is made from 100 per cent recycled polyester and down.
Parley for the Oceans, the Cyrill Gutsch-founded platform designed to raise awareness around the fragility of our oceans, has already got a glowing track record when it comes to sustainable fashion projects; the company has partnered with both Stella McCartney and Adidas on trainers made from ocean plastic. Now, it has teamed up with Corona to create a fundraising platform named ‘Clean Waves’, which will culminate in a series of interdisciplinary projects aiming to fight aginst plastic marine pollution.
We’ve got eyes for its first offering – a limited-edition run of sunglasses, created from upcycled Parley Ocean Plastic. Each mirrored lens style features individual graphic coordinates connecting each pair to a specific slice of oceanic paradise affected by marine pollution. The styles are available in white or with coral and sand-inspired mottled frames, and for every 100 pairs sold, Corona and Parley for the Oceans will expand their commitment and protect one more island against marine plastic pollution for one year.
Former Dries Van Noten menswear designer Spencer Phipps launched his eponymous menswear line during A/W 2018’s Paris Fashion Week. The American Parsons School of Design graduate, showcased a relaxed collection in rusty retro tones, including cropped cagoules, ribbed knitwear, cargo trousers and slouchy shorts, paired with pendants and beanie hats, that sung of a surfs up-inspired lifestyle. Phipps is dedicated to ethical and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes from the get go: for A/W 2018, the designer experimented with organic cottons, recycled nylons and undyed Mongolian yak hair.
Burgeoning South Korea-based accessories designer Jinah Jung was keen to design ‘useful items with abandoned materials’ when she was put in contact with the global creative director of Le Coq Sportif Frédéric Pertusier. Supplied with ten boxes of incomplete factory cast offs, Jung set to work creating backpacks, holdalls and cross body bags constructed from a patchwork of uppers, insoles, shoelaces and tags. The result is a unique and kaleidoscopic approach to upcyling, where trainers become textile swatches themselves. ‘I was inspired by artist Brian Jungen’s Nike Air Jordan shoe sculptures,’ Jung says. ‘It was such a fun process to reconstruct the shoes as bags, and to play with colours and materials like a puzzle.’