Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sustainable can be luxurious!

Trash need not always look trashy; an increasing amount of swish stuff is actually produced from recycled or upcycled materials. Aysia Wright wrote a piece for Planet Green some time ago with 10 examples of things that are 'just as pristine and perform just as well as their non-recycled counterparts,' a proof that sustainability never has to interfere with luxurious aesthetics or first-class quality. Below are some additions to that list (which, by the way, you should definitely check out: I would copy and paste it here in its entirety if it wasn't bad manners: 10 Closet Worthy Picks That Don't Look Recycled But Are. Trashion At Its Best by Aysia Wright).

Elvis & Kresse - reusing fire hoses


Elvis & Kresse make beautiful objects from a variety of waste: scrap sail clothes, used Air Traffic Control flight strips, closed cell foam, or parachute silk, but their most striking, signature material is genuine de-commissioned British fire brigade hose. They collect it across the UK, 'scrub away all the soot, grease, and everything else that builds up after 25 years of active life-saving duty,' and refashion into bags, purses, wallets, ipod holders, etc. Fire hoses are durable, but after service condemned to landfill. To date, Elvis and Kresse have rescued 40 tonnes of hose destined for that fate. And in order to thank Britain’s Brigades, 50% of their profits go back to the Fire Fighters Charity. They've featured in Vogue and stock at Harrods. A glorious mix of sustainable, innovative, pretty, and luxurious.

Goodone - good cuts

Goodone is an award-winning independent label which uses upcycled garments in their very high-end stuff. Using reclaimed fabrics in very creative ways, they do flattering AND interesting panelling. Their commitment to sustainability is strong: they claim that if every Briton purchased one item made from recycled wool each year, it would save 371 million gallons of water, 480 tones of chemical dyes, and 4571 million days of an average family’s electricity days. They 'aim not to stand apart from the mainstream fashion industry, rather to achieve positive change from within.' Founder and creative director Nin Castle is tutoring on the Sustainable Fashion course at St. Martins. Excellent on the sustainability as well as the fashion forward front. And they're launching a collection for Tesco at the end of January!

Retrouve - made from found objects only

Retrouve is an upcycled jewellery line from the excellent second hand shop Bang Bang exchange (which I wrote about some time ago). Designer Jo Whelan creates unique, bold pieces from reject or excess chain store jewellery that would otherwise be thrown away (last year 27 tonnes of costume jewellery went into landfill: unsold stock, breakages, faulty goods). Vintage components are used, but Retrouve's aesthetic is determinedly contemporary rather than retro. Whelan says 'designs are refreshed and infused with value and love ... In our current consumer culture things that are out of fashion or broken are disposed of often in environmentally irresponsible ways, Retrouve with it's make-do-and-mend philosophy is both eco-friendly and stylish, creating pieces that will be loved for longer.' They also offer a service reworking your old jewellery and custom designs. Future plans include workshops on making your own retrouve pieces.