Would you wear clothes made from rubbish? | Fashion | The Guardian
  • I launched TRASHMag - a magazine focusing on designers and artists producing ethical work. The nine young innovators here are part of that cohort. From the milliner growing plant-based biomaterials to the designer collaging old trainers, their ideas are blueprints for a fashion future that doesn’t cost the earth.

    Amelie Gaydoul

    Amelie Gaydoul

    Fashioning menswear from table linen

    For her final show at the University of Westminster, the recent fashion graduate produced a visual memoir of history based on her grandmother’s restaurant in southern Germany. Gaydoul utilised the restaurant’s 100-year-old tablecloths and napkins as the main fabrics for her collection – food and beer stains included. Many of the looks were accessorised with silver spoons sourced in London’s antique markets; she aimed to highlight that we “don’t appreciate what we are surrounded by because we are living in such a fast-paced world”.

    Amelie Marie Gaydoul makes menswear from old table clothes and napkins.
    Amelie Marie Gaydoul makes menswear from old table clothes and napkins.
    Kitchen chic
    Kitchen chic

    Ameliemarie.Gaydoul

    Duran Lantink

    Duran Lantink

    Repurposing designer cast-offs

    The half-Dutch, half-South-American, Amsterdam-based designer – who famously designed the Nike, Dr Martens, Hermès and Dries Van Noten has been used to make a single pair of shoes. It’s no surprise he is drawn to high-calibre brands – his “fashion-forward” mother has a taste for Margiela and Gucci. “I’d cut up garments I found in her closet from as young as nine,” he says. Lantink also has a bespoke service, and works with Liberty and Browns to make collections from the stores’ deadstock. “When I started, there was never ‘sustainability’. But it’s what I’ve done forever and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

    Duran Lantink makes new items unsold stock left over by luxury brands
    Duran Lantink makes new items out of unsold stock left over by luxury brands. Composite: PR
    Hot or deadstock?
    Hot or deadstock? Photograph: PR

    Available at Browns, Farfetch and Modesens

    Cecily Cracroft-Eley

    Cecily Cracroft-Eley

    Turning bark and nuts into garments

    The Central St Martins BA knitwear student graduated last year with a handcrafted collection made mainly from natural materials including walnuts, nzimbu shells, organic jute twine and bark cloth sourced from the forests of Uganda, where she spent her placement year. “I became obsessed with local, traditional crafts and the community aspect – it’s beautiful to see people working together,” she says. Witnessing shockingly unethical practices in the industry while interning in Paris prompted her to use only natural and recycled fabrics for her final collection. This month she is returning to the same place in Uganda to work with the women in the community there, believing “the most modern thing we can do now is return to craft. The entire system needs reshuffling.”

    Cecily Cracroft-Eley’s clothes feature natural materials including walnuts, nsimbi nzimbu shells, organic jute twine and bark cloth
    Cecily Cracroft-Eley’s clothes feature natural materials including walnuts, nsimbi nzimbu shells, organic jute twine and bark cloth. Composite: PR
    Cecily Cracroft-Eley: ““the most modern thing we can do right now is return to craft.”
    Cecily Cracroft-Eley: ‘the most modern thing we can do right now is return to craft.’ Composite: PR

    cecilyophelia.com

    Priya Ahluwalia

    Priya Ahluwalia

    Bringing new life to unwanted clothes

    For AW20, the menswear designer, who studied for her BA at UCA Epsom and her MA at Westminster, focused on the year 1965. “My mum’s Indian, Dad’s Nigerian and my stepdad is from Jamaica: I wanted to look at the year in the countries I’m affected by,” she says. Witnessing “the sheer amount of clothing we get rid of”, on a visit to Panipat in India and when working in high street fashion, made Ahluwalia want to utilise deadstock, the unused fabric and clothes made by brands. It’s a method she has practised since founding her label in 2017. She believes that “every industry needs to have a hard look at itself – I’m going to be a designer but I’m going to do it in the best way possible.”

    Priya Ahluwalia: “every industry needs to have a hard look at itself.”
    Priya Ahluwalia: ‘every industry needs to have a hard look at itself.’ Photograph: PR
    Ahluwalia for SS 20
    Ahluwalia for SS20. Photograph: PR

    Available at Browns

    Leo Carlton

    Leo Carlton

    Making millinery modern

    Finally, somebody has transported millinery – traditionally associated with Ascot and weddings – into the 21st century. Carlton was brought up in Oxfordshire, where he is now growing plant-based biomaterials to make headpieces that he digitally prints using virtual reality and 3D software. “My dad is a farmer – if you get barley at the right time, it can look like certain feathers, if you treat and dye it right,” he says. Carlton studied fashion, bags and accessories at the London College of Fashion and has since been working on his futuristic, yet delicately botanical headpieces. They symbolise that in a time of crisis, nature usually has the answers.

    Leo Carlton: 21st century millinery
    Leo Carlton: 21st century millinery. Composite: PR
    Leo Carlton: botanical headpieces
    Leo Carlton: botanical headpieces Photograph: Courtesy of Leo Carlton

    studio@leocarlton.com

    Matthew Needham

    Matthew Needham

    Upcycling old pieces into new designs

    Needham describes the way he works as “putting something that has no materialistic value into a fashion context”. For his Central Saint Martins MA collection, Øyeblikk (“in the blink of an eye”), he transported himself back to Norway, where he spent some time in 2015: “Each piece is part of that story,” he says . He worked with organic jerseys, old suitcases and “luxe fabrics donated by Alexander McQueen”. He and Helen Kirkum have together upcycled three pairs of designer heels donated by US Vogue’s Sarah Mower, while tears he cried and collected before the show have been turned into a crystal by RCA graduate Alice Potts, a wearable memory of a moment in time. Though Needham’s work is not yet for sale – he graduates this year – it has already gained attention. In 2019, it appeared in the V&A’s Pirelli calendar.

    Matthew Needham: tears he cried and collected prior to before the show while have been turned into a crystal
    Matthew Needham: tears he cried and collected have been turned into a crystal. Composite: PR
    A piece from the Matthew Needham collection
    A piece from the Matthew Needham collection. Photograph: Courtesy of Matthew Needham

    matthew-needham.com

    Helen Kirkum

    Helen Kirkum

    Splicing together odd sneakers

    Kirkum has transferred skills and methods traditionally found in the historic craft of shoe-making to the box-fresh world of sneakers. Her thinking is modern, yet her creations are anything but brand new. Kirkum collaborates with charity shop Traid, collaging donated odd (and therefore unsellable) shoes with material scraps to make bespoke trainers. “My aim is to give beauty back to what would otherwise be deemed useless,” she says. She developed her rough and ready, yet detailed aesthetic on her MA in footwear at the RCA, where she studied prior to working at Adidas for a year. “It exists on the outskirts of various circles,” she says of her work. “Both sneakerheads and art collectors have purchased my pieces. I’m continually surprised by who my customer is.”

    Helen Kirkham: “both sneakersheads and art collectors have purchased my pieces.”
    Helen Kirkham: ‘both sneakersheads and art collectors have purchased my pieces.’ Composite: PR
    Helen Kirkum: finding the beauty in the ‘useless’
    Helen Kirkum: finding the beauty in the ‘useless’. Photograph: Rachel Dray

    @helenkirkumstudio; helenkirkum.com

    Phoebe English

    Phoebe English

    Disrupting the fashion system

    Reinventing her business in response to the climate crisis, English has leapt from using 20% recycled fabrics to 70% in just three seasons. “I feel passionately optimistic about the power of change,” she says. She has also founded the Fashion on Earth WhatsApp group, an information-sharing platform for eco-conscious fashion professionals, insisting that “we need to stand together in a time of emergency”. She is rethinking how to extend the lifespan of the pieces she creates, because “designing is fundamentally problem-solving”. Recently, this has seen her make a limited range of garments from care labels usually found inside clothes: “A literal comment on the materials we are letting go.” Her wearable, often adjustable, pieces work to challenge the idea that, as clothes wearers and as an industry, we have “an addiction to excess”.

    PhoebeEnglishSS20: makinge a limited range of garments from care labels usually found inside clothes
    Phoebe English, SS20: making a limited range of garments from the care labels usually found inside clothes. Composite: PR
    Phoebe English’s SS20 collection and the power of change
    Phoebe English: ‘I feel passionately optimistic about the power of change.’ Composite: PR

    phoebeenglish.com

    Bethany Williams

    Bethany Williams

    Fashion that helps communities

    Williams’ label is an outstanding example of how a fashion brand can have a positive impact. Each season she collaborates with a different charity, donating 20% of her profits to the cause. Williams grew up in the Isle of Man, surrounded by local industries where “there was a strong sense of community”. This season, she worked with Magpie, a charity that helps immigrant mothers living in inadequate temporary accommodation, bringing their stories to life within garments made from old bell tents, deadstock denim and knitwear, made in collaboration with knitting collective Wool and the Gang.

    Bethany Williams has worked with Magpie, a charity that helps immigrant mothers
    Bethany Williams has worked with Magpie, a charity that helps immigrant mothers. Photograph: Jade Berry
    Williams’ SS20 collection made from old bell tents, deadstock denim and knitwear
    Williams’ SS20 collection: made from old bell tents, deadstock denim and knitwear. Photograph: Jade Berry

    Available at Farfetch

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