It was when seeing plastic refuse washing up on the shore of a beach that friends Marc Quinn and head of Vionnet Goga Ashkenazi began considering the possibility of a sustainability-focused collaborative project. Quinn’s recent work has nodded to mankind’s tangled and damaging relationship with nature. Take his 2015 ‘Toxic Sublime’ exhibition at the White Cube gallery in London’s Bermondsey, which featured crumpled aluminium sheets detailed with smoggy dystopian sunsets. But it was his 2017 and 2018 ‘Raft Series’, featuring sculptures made up of swathes of crumpled plastic bags – flimsy symbols of harmful human consumption – which most caught Ashkenazi’s attention.

The result is a ‘Raft Series’-inspired sustainable fashion collection, which launches today at a seven week pop-up shop in London’s Selfridges. ‘It looks to the surfer community,’ Ashkenazi says of the offering, which features scuba suits with sensual cut outs, dresses with wetsuit zippers, towelling dressing gowns, and in a nod to Quinn’s works, cagoules with bright pull ties like those found on refuse bags, and colourful plastic bag print t-shirts. ‘Surfers are a vocal group when it comes to sustainability and environmentalism’ she adds. ‘Because of their love for and personal relationship with the ocean.’

‘Marc and I talked about combining efforts and raising awareness around sustainability,’ says Ashkenazi. The collection has been made using natural and environmentally friendly fabrics including eco-leather, terry cloth, techno-parachute textiles and recycled plastic. ‘Sustainable Surf’ also features a collaboration with Sea2see on two oversized sunglasses styles, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. 

The brand’s chic surf shack pop-up will be crafted from natural and recycled materials like bamboo and recycled aluminium and recomposed woods, and populated with surfboards and large-scale images of Quinn’s ‘Raft Series,’ bought into 3D using augmented reality. It’s also another step for Selfridges’ own sustainability drive. In January 2017, it launched ‘Material World’, a project which celebrated emerging designers pioneering in sustainability, including Le Kilt and Kilometre.

Vionnet will also donate 50 per cent of the collection’s profits to the environmental initiative Parley For The Oceans. ‘It’s amazing to purchase something and to know that wearing that garment has positively contributed to the clearing up of the planet,’ Ashkenazi says. What a way to make waves.