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15 global brands bringing fashion and sustainability together


Ka-Sha, India

“Change by design” is a kind of mantra for Karishma Shahani-Khan and her label, Ka-Sha, based in Maharashtra, India. The artisans she works with across the country are as central to Ka-Sha’s story as the natural, hand-dyed fabrics and zero-waste design methods. “We use clothing to celebrate handcraft and artisanal techniques, new and old,” Shahani-Khan explains. The label’s capsule project, Heart to Haat, is produced entirely from leftover textiles and garments destined for landfill, inspired by the indigenous ideology of reusing, repurposing and reclaiming.” – Emily Farra

Image: ka-sha.com

Mozh Mozh, Peru

Mozhdeh Matin launched her label in 2015, she explains, to “work with local artisans and preserve their techniques”. She was motivated by the concept of a circular economy, and indeed, relying on homegrown weaving traditions, her colourful separates, dresses and accessories – made from alpaca, cotton and wool yarns also native to Peru – ​have put that wheel in motion. “All artists take inspiration from their surroundings,” she says, “and the climate crisis is pushing a lot of us to create inventive ways to become more sustainable.” – Marley Marius

Conner Ives, Britain

At least 75 per cent of this Central Saint Martins graduate’s designs are made from vintage, deadstock or sustainable materials. “It’s always about finding new materials to use and new processes to develop,” says Ives. “It’s a constant and hungry evolution.” The designer, who hails from Bedford, New York, says living in England has influenced the way he sources and implements second-hand materials. “When I first got to London, I spent most of my time with friends going to charity shops,” says Ives. “I so much enjoy the hunt.” – Christian Allaire

Morphine, Italy

Morphine is an innovative brand-slash-retailer based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, selling vintage designer items – think ’90s Comme des Garçons and early-Noughties McQueen – and upcycled pieces of its own through its line, Compendium 01: Pazzesca. “Our process lies in reawakening and giving life to products that this industry has produced and forgotten,” says Morphine’s project manager Sasha Payton. “We produce one-of-a-kind items by customising and reassembling clothing, fabrics and yarns from deadstock and leftovers from across the Italian supply chain.” – CA

Vitelli, Italy

Vitelli’s production is entirely made of knitwear-industry waste, much of it otherwise headed to landfill, which is then used to create the label’s proprietary felted material – dubbed Doomboh – which is turned into crafty, tactile pieces. “The atelier inside my studio is called Organic Knitting Theatre,” says Mauro Simionato, Vitelli’s founder and creative director. “Every day, we gather and create.” His main source of inspiration? The “music-driven, post-hippie” Italian counterculture movement that grew up around the Cosmic club on the Adriatic Riviera in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Vitelli’s taken this scene “as a model of how to participate in – and possibly inspire – the current global cosmic scene”. – Laird Borrelli-Persson

Juan de La Paz, Bolivia

Juan de La Paz was founded in 2009 by designers Juan Carlos Pereira and Andrés Jordan, who collaborate with artisans in Bolivia and Peru to create their vibrant designs. “We learn from the ancestral knowledge of these communities to take care of Mother Earth when making fashion,” says Pereira. The clothes – most of which feature the label’s signature fringing –are handmade using recycled textiles (the line is also made-to-order and practices zero waste). Being Bolivian, both designers say, makes sustainability essential and obvious. “Contemporary Latin American design upcycles, looks for alternative materials, collaborates with indigenous communities and values artisan craftsmanship,” says Jordan. – CA

Rave Review, Sweden

For Rave Review’s Josephine Bergqvist and Livia Schück, the way to a responsible future is through the past. From the start, the pair have worked only with existing materials, which they puzzle together into unique pieces. “These fabrics are so nice to work with – and in a way it feels more ‘new’ to work this way rather than to redesign existing fashions,” Bergqvist asserts. The designers often say that, because their fabrics have previous existences, their work is nostalgic by default – but it’s how these Swedes filter their work through their own childhood memories and contemporary obsessions that is drawing rave reviews. – LB-P

Maison ARTC, Morocco

Maison Artc is the five-year-old brainchild of Israeli-Moroccan designer Artsi Ifrach, who works as sustainably as he can from his Marrakesh atelier, morphing together his vast collection of antique clothing with local textiles, such as handwoven blankets from the Atlas Mountains. The “as he can” is crucial here: “Sustainability and industry, production, fast fashion – none of these are sustainable, unless you do haute couture,” Ifrach says. His solution is collectable one-off pieces designed to keep the past alive in the present. – Mark Holgate

Marine Serre, France

“The regenerating process is complex, unique and meticulous,” says Marine Serre, whose brand hinges on repurposing vintage fabrics into new garments. Serre constructed the dress seen here from scarves found in French markets to create a classic silhouette from unexpected materials. Using the old to make new isn’t easy – especially when producing on her scale. “We had to rework the whole chain of production,” she says. “Eco-futurism is about a way to live, a way to act, and a way to get inspired. We want things to make sense.” – Steff Yotka

Chopova Lowena, Britain

Working between Bulgaria and Britain gives Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena an advantage. During lockdowns, the pair found vintage tablecloths and tartan taffetas in both countries, using them as a base for their eclectic dresses and skirts. “This look is made from deadstock taffeta, which is then printed and flocked by us,” Chopova says. Working sustainably is a “huge drive” for the designers. “We collect certain textiles,” Chopova says, “and then make limited-edition pieces when they fit into the themes of the season – or when we figure out how to best show them off.” – SY

Yuima Nakazato, Japan

At the Tokyo atelier of couturier Yuima Nakazato, responsibly sourced fabrics are as much a part of the design story as silhouette. In autumn 2021, Nakazato marked the 10th anniversary of his label with a collection that included pieces made from upcycled leathers, organic cottons, laces and linens hand-dyed with natural Japanese indigo (a process called aizome), along with others that combined nishijin-ori – a traditional kimono textile – with a plant-based synthetic inspired by spider silk. Nakazato’s raison d’être: “to make this world a better place through garments”. – MM

Bode, America

When Emily Adams Bode burst on to the menswear scene in 2017 with her upcycled quilted jackets, the boyish shape and the nod to craft resonated instantly, but her reverence for the objects and stories of the past also carried through with quilts, clothes, linens, tablecloths and blankets. She’s since introduced a tailoring shop next door to her Hester Street flagship in New York, where customers can bring items to be repaired, or “preserved”, as Bode tells it. “We’re teaching our community how clothing can last for generations.” – EF

Lagos Space Programme, Nigeria

Adeju Thompson’s work for Lagos Space Programme rockets between past and present, and crucially, it is mission-based: fashion is the vehicle through which the designer, who studied in Wales and England, explores both their non-binary identity and Yoruba heritage. “We are aware of our responsibility as inhabitants of the planet,” notes Thompson, who often works with precolonial silhouettes and collaborates with skilled artisans employing indigenous craft techniques, such as natural indigo dying. “My ancestors left so much behind,” they say. “I believe they expected us to continue telling these stories and building up on what they left.” – LB-P

Duran Lantink, Netherlands

Some designers have moodboards for inspiration. Duran Lantink, based in Amsterdam, instead creates some of his designs after trawling the city during the Tuesday night ritual when its residents leave things out on the street for others to take. “I never understood using new materials when there are so many beautiful things around me,” says Lantink, who started designing as a teenager, cutting up the Gaultier and Margiela his mother no longer wore. More recently, he has utilised a vintage Balmain dress, a ‘60s fur coat and a regiment’s worth of army sweaters for his label. “You get a pile of clothes and start digging in,” Lantink says, laughing. – MH

By Walid, Britain

Walid al Damirji structured his brand By Walid around a single principle: no waste. “It would be disrespectful otherwise,” the designer says of the antique textiles, like curtains, vintage clothing and tapestries, that he transforms into romantic blouses, jackets, and even homewares such as pillows and quilts. When it comes to finding these materials, al Damirji says, “I leave no stone unturned – auctions, vintage fairs, car boot sales – you name it!” His deep care made him one of the first in the luxury fashion industry to take upcycling and sustainability seriously. – SY

This article was originally published on Vogue UK.





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