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…
Parley for the Oceans
In 2016, American artist and Wallpaper* Artist’s Palate collaborator Doug Aitken teamed up with Parley for the Oceans to take art underwater, with a series of below sea level geodesic pavilions. These structures changed appearance according to the tides and movements of sea life and encouraged art and sealife lovers alike to engage with the ocean. Now, Aitken is one of a roster of artists – including Ed Ruscha, Jenny Holzer and Julian Schnabel to partner with Parley on a series of Ocean Plastic® bags; design-led totes created form approximately five plastic bottles, recovered from remote islands and coastlines by Parley’s global cleanup network. It’s estimated that one to five trillion plastic bags are consumed annually worldwide and each bag is used for an average of 21 minutes before being discarded. These bags – including this style printed with an optically patterned take on Aitken’s underwater pavillions – will last for countless minutes more. Plus you’ll be carrying a piece of art around with you too.
Stella McCartney’s latest eyewear line really has us seeing clearly. The brand has long flexed its sustainable credentials, and its newest selection of opticals and sunglasses are created using responsibly sourced materials such as bio-acetates, which are made from biodegradable wood fibres and the esters of citric acid. With their curving cat eye frames, these optical styles have a retro flair. The frames nod to the wares of vintage LA starlets, but boasts a sustainable vision of the future too.
In the past year, swimwear brands have really taken the plunge in terms of sustainability, and brands like Arket, Galamaar and Elliss have invested in Econyl, a recycled nylon which uses waste from the oceans and landfills, including carpets and fishing nets. This summer, we’re making strong strokes towards Medina Swimwear, an eco-conscious label founded by Andalusia-born Lourdes Medina. For her designs, which span sporty surf tops in spacey silver and pin-up worthy one pieces with criss cross straps, Medina favours Ecoynl fibre, supplied by Italian company Carvico, which is UV and chlorine proof, sun cream and oil resistant. What’s more, each season the brand will donate a percentual sale from every swimsuit to a non profit organisation dedicated to clearing up our oceans. We can’t think of a better reason for taking a dip.
In a pledge to save endangered species, Lacoste has teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to create ten limited edition polo shirts, each representing an animal in danger of extinction. For this second edition, these rare specimens will once again replace the iconic crocodile logo on the shirts to help raise awareness and support the work done by the IUCN to conserve the wildlife. As May 22nd marks International Day for Biological Diversity, nine Lacoste stores in the world, as well as the online platform, are turned into a space highlighting the issues facing one specific specie. For instance, we’ll see London’s Covent Garden flagship store sporting the Yemeni mouse-tailed bat as its mascot and selling the polo exclusively. The number of shirts produced for each edition corresponds to the number of animals remaining in the wild – which can go as low as 50 for the Philippine’s Cebu damselfly or 90 for the white antelope known as the addax. With only 3,520 polo shirts available in total we’ll make sure to act fast and lay our hands on these adorable items created for a good cause as all profits will help the IUCN’s actions on the ground.
New York-based brand Theory is making seriously environmentally friendly inroads. Two years ago it launched Good Wool, a collection made using premium traceable Australian merino wool, and now it has released Good Linen, a twenty-eight piece men’s and women’s offering of sharp, minimalist silhouettes created using Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic linen, cotton linter viscose, and Roica™ eco-smart elastane. The collection’s linen is woven in a preferred fiber-focused Italian mill, and this summer we’ll be flexing our style and sustainable credentials in blazers with nautical rope tie details, gauzy sand coloured cardigans and city suits. We know good things when we see them.
Italian label Myar works with military precision. It’s not just army and navy silhouettes – from peacoats to Japanese field solider trousers – which inspire the brand’s founder Andrea Rosso, it’s the physical material with which these garments were made. ‘There are lots of military clothes just sitting in warehouses totally unused, but there is a beauty to the design, despite the negative connotations,’ Rosso told Wallpaper* in our September 2017 issue (W*222), the year he started his brand. Aligning with the concept of a recycling-focused circular economy, Myar takes deadstock military garments and reworks them into something new. Showing real fashion force is the label’s S/S 2019 women’s offering, which features parkas with striped details and nipped in drawstring waists, ponchos with sizeable pockets and relaxed trouser suits in utilitarian greens. Stand to attention in style!
Last summer, Arket made a sustainable splash with its debut range of swimwear, constructed using Econyl - a regenerated nylon yarn constructed from plastic waste like fishing nets and carpet, which clog both landfills and our oceans. For S/S 2019, the brand has returned with a fully sustainable men’s and women’s collection of poolside pieces. These sleek and refined swimwear designs include spaghetti strap swimming costumes, sporty bikinis in lawn green and slip on men’s shorts in bold red hues. We’ll be sporting them all summer.
It’s been a decade since Anna Laub launched Prism, the swimwear label which is every stylish sun seeker’s second skin of choice. For the brand’s ten year anniversary this year, Laub is showcasing a series of capsule collections, and one is particularly green-fingered. Laub has looked back into Prism’s archive and set her sights on its debut eyewear collection, which included a pair of cream tortoiseshell cat-eye sunglasses. These are now available in environmentally friendly bio-acetate. A new style is also imagined in black with an orange mirror lens. ‘Making classic, long-lasting products is at the core of what we do,’ Laub says. ‘Everything I’ve designed has always had an ethical point of view at its heart, but it’s also key to look at new developments in how to move fashion forward into the modern day.’ Now that’s an anniversary vision we can set our sights on. Photography: Mariah Ernst
After backpacking around the world, Johan Olsson took a drastic turn in his career path and went from a comfortable job in finance to launching his own sneaker brand in 2017. Based in London, Roscomar is at the crossroads between a Swedish conscious mindset and a Californian retro style, which nods to the spirit of adventure and suits an active lifestyle. Featuring canvas uppers and a custom rubber sole, the sneakers boast a linear silhouette and a lightweight feel created with high quality, ethical materials. From working with certified manufacturers in Vietnam to offering vegan alternatives and donating £1 from each sale to the United Nations Carbon Offset Program, the label is constantly directing its efforts to minimise its impact on the planet. Presenting two new silhouettes and materials including suede, leather and Merino wool, the unisex shoes have already attracted fans from across the globe thanks to a laid back design sporting a recognisable logo at an affordable price point.
Before our clothes reach our shelves, it’s likely they have travelled thousands of miles across the globe, which makes a locally made garment one of the most sustainable items of our wardrobe. Undertaking a journey of only 34 miles from yarn to the finished product, the new Tautz British Military denim is entirely crafted in the heart of Lancashire using the resources found on site. Designer Patrick Grant brought back to life a staple of the British Army wardrobe taking pieces from his own archive to reveal the pure olive green and ecru colours of the yarn. Using traditional dyeing techniques, Blackburn Yarn Dyers reproduced the shades into new threads that were then woven, cut and sewn by traditional manufacturers and ancient suppliers of the British Army. The collection includes three styles of trousers, a classic denim jacket and oversized tote bag following the brand’s refined yet modern codes and proudly bearing the made in Britain tag.
2018 Wallpaper* Guest Editor Tomás Saraceno has had a busy month. Fresh from unveiling The Cosmic Web at Salone del Mobile, in collaboration with Bulgari, the artist has dipped his Argentina-born, Berlin-based toe into the world of environmentally friendly fashion, with a piece debuted at Salvatore Ferragamo’s ‘Sustainable Thinking’ exhibition at the brand’s Florence Museum.
The Italian label is dedicated to developing sustainable manufacturing solutions. Last summer, it launched an eco-version of its famed 1938 rainbow sandal, with 100 trees planted on the outskirts of Catania for every 100 pairs sold. ‘Sustainable Thinking’ features a series of artworks and clothing designs by a host of artists and fashion designers, including Eileen Fisher, Christopher Raeburn and Saraceno, which muse on creativity and sustainability, and experiment with upcyled or organic materials. Saraceno’s Aerocene Explorer, Backpack AE101 (2016) is a starter pack for sustainable sleepovers. It features a reinforced solar balloon, a recycled plastic bottle, a remote-controlled video-camera, GPS sensor; solar battery pack and even a WiFi dongle.
During the scarcity of the war years, Ferragamo himself was famed for experimenting with unusual materials in his designs, like fish skin, hemp, tree bark and raffia. In celebration of the exhibition opening, the brand has launched ‘42 Degrees’, a rainbow detail capsule collection of sneakers and bags, designed by two of its young designers - Flavia Corridori and Luciano Dimotta. The pieces are made using white chrome and metal free tanned leather, natural rubber soles, plant dyes and organic fibers. Saraceno’s backpack and Ferragamo’s enviromentally-aware accessories: fashion forward options for our next outdoors endeavour. Image courtesy of Tomás Saraceno, Aerocene Foundation, Berlin and Pinksummer Contemporary Art, Genoa. ‘Sustainable Thinking’ is on view at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, Florence until 8 March 2020.
‘The most environmentally challenging aspect of the denim industry today is the magnitude of water it requires,’ says Mary Peffer, VP of global marketing & brand creative at J Brand. The LA-based denim leader is on a moisture-reducing mission to limit its manufacturing water wastage, and by 2020, it will be 100% committed to operating using sustainable practises. J Brand’s Pre Fall 2019 collection abounds with water-saving wonders: an eco-wash which limits water wastage (it’s estimated that an average denim supplier wastes 380,000 gallons of water every day), laser cutting techniques are used to create distressed denim instead of toxic chemicals, all hardwear elements are recycled and fabric off-cuts and trims are even repurposed into insulation. What’s more, mined pumice stones have been replaced with artificial ‘eco stones’. ‘While we cannot disclose our secrets, we were thrilled the team was able to use an environmentally friendly alternative resulting in the same aesthetic effect,’ Peffer adds of the innovation. ‘Sustainability is a responsibility we are dedicated to, but does not mean settling for lesser product’. Photography and art direction: Mary Peffer. Fashion: Karla Welch. Model: Langley Fox
Using a yarn made of recycled plastics, Camper has turned its sporty sneaker Drift into a sustainable style. Since creating its first shoe Camaleón made by recycling leather scraps and used tyres, the Spanish brand has always focused on eco friendly design: ‘In the past, we’ve developed special projects with ethical or environmental considerations, but by updating a bestselling contemporary design like Drift, we signal a deeper commitment to sustainability,’ says CEO Miguel Fluxà. ‘Today, the speed of entry of innovative “considered” materials – which can achieve the aesthetic qualities we require – signals a really exciting opportunity for both ourselves and the footwear industry as a whole.’ By using advanced technology and minimising its carbon footprint, Camper delivers a breathable summer sneaker, for both men and women, which doesn’t cost the earth and helps save our oceans. Photography: Aylin Bayhan
Founded to fight against mass production, New York-based label FEIT is the go-to destination for footwear lovers in search of something a little more unusual. Every piece is delicately crafted with natural materials and hand sewn by master shoemakers from around the world. For spring, its founder Tull Price has tackled the unsustainable materials used in the sneaker market to deliver a fully sustainable and all-natural shoe style using absolutely no synthetics in the process. The organic latex sole has been developed with a long and intricate technique using the milk of rubber tree plant, which gives its translucent appearance. Produced in a limited edition of 60 pieces in each tan and white, the Latex Low is inspired by classic basketball sneakers from the 60s, and stands exactly where luxury and sustainability meet.
For Spring/Summer 2019, Selfridges introduced five new brands as part of its Bright New Things project to promote sustainability and prove that ethics can also be synonymous to stylish design. Enter Elliss, a London-based label launched in 2016 and consciously producing quirky underwear, dresses and bodies entirely on site with organic or recycled cotton, hemp and bamboo – fabrics that are just as kind to the skin as they are to the planet. The designer and founder Elliss Solomon creates collage pieces with vintage, punchy prints and underwear in soft colour tones that are beautifully luxurious, all made in London for women to feel comfortable and sassy in one fell swoop.
Dover Street Market’s seasonal changeover is one of the most anticipated moments on luxury retail’s calendar. For it marks the moment when the global boutiques’ installations, presentations and roster of designers is reinvigorated for the next six months. There’s a sustainable slant behind S/S 2019’s changeover too, as this week also marks the launch of Good News – an environmentally friendly sneaker label – at Dover Street Market in London. The brand’s bright high tops and pumps are created using recycled rubber soles, organic cotton uppers and a recycled eco-lite footbed, proving you’ll be making a newsworthy, sustainable step into spring.
For those carousing down Lamb’s Conduit Street in Central London, E. Tautz’s pop-up shop at Pentreath & Hall is well worth a pit-stop. For housed inside the space is a sumptuous selection of the British menswear label’s A/W 2018 collection, from checked shirts to chunky cords, knitted cardigans and XL scarves, all produced using a range of sustainable fabrics. So why not invest in a winter wardrobe which is environmentally conscious too? Every piece in the offering is produced in the United Kingdom: take the brand’s raw cotton yarn, which after being imported from JG Ballard in California, is spun in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, knitted, finished and hand-dyed in Leicester, and cut and sewn in Blackburn. A pop-up with an ethically-conscious punch.
As one of the original direct-to-consumer clothing companies that disrupted the fashion industry, Everlane has rarely played by conventional rules. This week, the San Francisco-based label has moved the yardstick even further with the launch of its ReNew collection – a line of warm outerwear, fleece pullovers and parkas for both men and women, which is made from recycled plastic fibers gleaned from 3 million plastic bottles. With transparency becoming one of the brand’s signature values, Everlane has also pledged to eliminate all plastic waste from its supply chain by 2021. This continues the brand’s commitment, which has already seen it create a denim collection made by Saitex, a denim factory that recycles 98% of its water and runs on alternative energy, as well as overhaul its silk supply chain, so that its silk collection is now produced at a factory in China that will completely function using regenerative farming, recycled water and renewable energy by 2021. Talk about a new standard.
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.’