The process of turning waste into something wearable has long been a visionary goal of eco fashion. Under the guise of upcycled fashion are haphazard DIY missteps that have cost the movement dearly in perception and respect. And yet, within this arena we do find innovation and creativity.
Take a look at some of the designs from Central St Martin’s Sustainable Catwalk jewelery show, ‘Tomorrow’s Chip Papers,” held on April Fool’s Day. Challenged to create beautiful, earth-friendly adornments from garbage bags, twigs and discarded kebab sticks, the BA Jewelery Design students created striking originals for the catwalk. There seems to be no shortage of imaginative fantasies, but the question remains: Would you wear it?
As we celebrate Earth Week, let’s reflect on some West Coast fashion ideas that looked crazy at first but have transcended the realm of unwearable imaginative fantasy to represent what upcycled fashion could and should be – edgy, zero waste, forward-thinking and quite simply, crazy cool.
Taking fashion concepts to new heights, San Francisco-based design and manufacturing shop Turk+Taylor’s latest collection is cut from a retired hot air balloon. Salvaged from Colorado and shipped to a friend’s warehouse in San Francisco, designer duo Mark Lee Morris and Andrew Soernsen unfurled “what seemed like miles of rip stock nylon,” to find they had over 400 yards of uniquely color-blocked fabric to create distinctive windbreakers and dresses that soar in a season of colorful outerwear and bold patterns.
In what he terms “a moment of clarity,” Dustin Page, the designer behind Oakland label, Platinum Dirt, looked at the worn yet durable leather seats of his Volvo, and saw the perfect material to make his handmade and highly desired VIN jackets made of reclaimed vintage leather auto upholstery from old Cadillacs, Lincolns, BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, and more. I’ve never seen one of these fail to get people excited whenever they’re on view at fashion events. And thus explaining why the pair – partner Aaron Parrish provides the business brains – quickly got the call from the Hollywood cool-guy set, including Jamie Foxx, Jeremy Piven and Adrian Grenier, requesting their own one-of-a-kinds. The lust-worthy women’s version is sleek and tailored, beautifully toughening up any floaty feminine look.
The fashion world’s hard sell goes hand in hand with the mass media. It’s hard for any of us to resist consumerism when it is so alluringly presented in the glossies, making Nike’s latest Nike Sportswear offering the Premium Print Pack sneaker for women, so deliciously ironic. The sneakers are made from actual recycled magazines that have been shredded and reconstituted. Launched this year, the shoes are a subscription slave’s best revenge.