April 20, 2024

The brands making recycling fashionable

Only graduating last year, Patrick McDowell has already been worn by Rita Ora and MIA. By reclaiming and recycling – and covering pieces with gobstopper-sized upcycled crystals – he is reinventing what luxury fashion means today.

Coming up with a fashion concept for shoots usually starts with catwalk trends… which this season would be gothic, 70s bourgeois or dominatrix detail… or maybe it would be a colour moment like burnt orange, biscuit, hyper feminised pink… or perhaps a fabric… or an imaginary character and the clothes she would wear… but fashion is moving in a different way.

It’s no longer enough to regurgitate catwalk – or high street clothes – in a shoot with an abstract concept that has no resonance with the real world. Fashion editorials should still be a place of aspiration and beauty but the mood of the moment and our conscience demands more content.

To fit in with the activism angle in GLAMOUR’s Autumn issue, I decided the most exciting and new things I’d seen at fashion shows, in showrooms and studios, centred around young designers making new out of old.

Those talents that were recycling deadstock fabrics (materials from old seasons that end up just sitting in warehouses), designers that were innovating to create upcycled clothes from partially existing garments and anyone striving to create new materials by taking waste and transforming it into new fabric… or incorporating rubbish into brand new pieces. It’s often the younger designers who are most innovative and agile at this because longer established brands have years of ingrained processes to disrupt – so this issue’s fashion shoot is a celebration of all that is in the mix.

These are just a few of the names you need to know, and who you’ll see in the shoot, and why they are making a difference

As winner of the Queen Elizabeth Award for British Design earlier this year, there is a buzz around Bethany Williams. Her commitment to supporting communities and charity groups (who help to make her collections) inform the garments, which include second hand denim and upcycled newspaper pieces.

Stella McCartney is the most established name in fashionable sustainability but as well as her pledge to create cruelty-free, it was at her Paris Fashion Week show in March that I spotted brilliantly bold pieces that utilised deadstock t-shirts from an LA factory and her own offcuts from previous seasons, now patched together to create new fabric.

The Central St Martin’s graduate duo Chopova Lowena are fascinated by craft and their signature skirts, which echo traditional Bulgarian styles, were a street style favourite at London Fashion Week. The vintage fabrics that they are made from are sourced from Bulgaria via auction sites and classified-type ads

Christopher Raeburn has been reworking surplus materials into new creations since 2001 – well before sustainability was the buzzword of the season. Small batches and local production ensure minimal impact from each garment’s creation.

Converse have created Renew – a series of recycled sneakers – and the ones in our shoot (apart from the vintage styles) are made from 100% recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. There is also a new collection of styles made from discarded jeans out this autumn.

Former winner of H&M’s Design Award Priya Alhuwalia – of Alhuwalia Studio – works only with second-hand fabrics, often sourced from fabric recycling depots, on her sports-influenced menswear collections.

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