Sustainability is the buzzword in the fashion world today, with the majority of designers adopting environmentally friendly practices. Some designers take it a step further by using existing materials or clothing and reusing them to create new styles of clothing and accessories. It was evident on the catwalks and exhibitions during this month’s London Fashion Week. And in London’s shopping streets, stores like Rokit and Beyond Retro are essential for any visitor looking to shop for recycled vintage items.
Vin + Omi is known to use wastes such as dead hydrangea heads and nettles from Prince Charles’ Highgrove estate to create new materials. For their fall / winter 2020 collection, they also turned large vinyl posters into dresses and coats and recycled suits and knits from London tailor Mr Start to create new jackets, dresses and scarves.
3am Eternal was part of the British Fashion Council’s Positive Fashion exhibit during London Fashion Week. Using vintage clothing, designers Emily and Caitlin Price create new pieces by revamping and adding luxurious fabrics, sport-tech materials and embellishments. Women’s clothing designer Caitlin Price has teamed up with her sister, Emily Price, who owns a vintage clothing business. Each item is unique and available for purchase on their online store. The London display was the brand’s second capsule collection at London Fashion Week.
Joshua James Small’s debut collection was also part of the Positive Fashion exhibition. Prior to launching his own brand, Joshua worked with Richard Quinn and Gareth Pugh, designers who had an obvious influence. Joshua is a designer who creates concepts that inspire escape through cutting and designing intricate and precise patterns. Conscious design practice is also essential, with all components of each garment listed on its website on release date. He salvages clothes and fabrics and uses dead stock provided by various companies, including Swarovski and famous French lacemaker Sophie Hallette. All clothing is designed and made in England and the pieces are produced to order.
Jewels by Alan Anderson uses vintage Swarovski jewelry to create new designs. These pieces were in a fashion display at Canada House during London Fashion Week. Each piece is handcrafted with vintage crystals and stones set on prongs to create unique pieces. The jewelry is inspired by art deco designs and the golden age of Hollywood. Pieces have been worn by celebrities ranging from Elizabeth Taylor who owned an amethyst cuff that was part of her collection’s Christie’s auction, Katy Perry who wore a topaz brooch for L’Uomo Vogue, and Viola Davis, who donned a pink and olivine necklace for the british premiere of Ugly.
Founded in Istanbul, DB Berdan is a genderless streetwear and clubwear brand based in London by mother-daughter duo Beg Berdan and Deniz Berdan. The brand uses its own prints to tell stories, with an emphasis on social justice and underground cultures. They use environmentally friendly materials like biodegradable hemp and all zippers are made from blue plastic caps from water bottles. For their AW20 collection, they collaborated with ORTA, a Turkish company that recycles vintage denims and reclaimed cotton clothing.
French designer Manon Planche, who showed with Ones to Watch during London Fashion Week, reworks vintage denim, creatively using all frayed yarns, scraps and quilting. The brand’s bold, printed and textured pieces are all unique and were worn by musicians Rita Ora and Kate Nash. Likewise, House of DK creator Devesh Kothari recycles vintage denim pieces, as well as champagne and wine bottle corks to create vibrant streetwear. British designer Adam Jones creates simple, non-seasonal ready-to-wear pieces for men and women by recycling vintage tea towels and blankets, as well as using second-hand coasters and ribbons. Singer Neneh Cherry is a fan of this designer’s work.
Texan designer Julie McCullough’s AW20 collection is inspired by the culture of the 1970s and 1980s and her fascination with vintage 19th century clothing. Many of the garments in this collection are family heirlooms dating back to the 1880s and were incorporated into the collection by McCullough, using his skills in construction and design. Julie McCullough’s designs can be found online or at the Sustainable Designer Emporium, Harkensback, which she co-founded, in Dallas.
Spanish designer Africa Hernandez is keen to preserve traditional crafts and colorful customs as part of cultural heritage and she also uses second-hand clothing and fabrics to create modern designs. She uses traditional craft techniques and works with local women from her neighborhood in Spain. All of her second-hand fabrics come from garage sales in Spain as well as from her parents’ house, where she found vintage brocade tablecloths, duvet covers and bedspreads.