From Nadja Swarovski joining forces with the United Nations to a worldwide move towards reusing fabrics and yarns, people who care about helping the planet to survive are changing the business of fashion.
The UN initiative has the thoughtful title of One X One, with a mission to create positive impact and drive lasting change in the fashion industry. The idea is to combine companies that promote sustainable innovation.
‘Good for the Earth, good for people’ is the message, and in 2020 it coincides with the celebration of Swarovski’s 125 years.
“We are a brand driven by innovation, creative collaboration and responsible practices,” said Swarovski, “and we are delighted to support this new global initiative to connect the talent of the future with the businesses and individuals who can help create dynamic impact and lasting change”.
Celine Semaan, founder of the sustainability design agency Slow Factory, said that they were proud to partner with Swarovski in collaboration with the United Nations Office For Partnerships and “to lead the industry forward by example”.
“Repurpose with a purpose,” announced Gabriela Hearst as she looked at the hefty blocks of shredded paper from a recycling facility in Brooklyn that formed the background of her Autumn/Winter 2020 show.
But that was not all the designer had to offer in terms of thoughtful ways to help the planet. Notebooks – for those who still write – were also on hand and sleep masks, both made from leftover threads of cashmere.
Gaby – as she is known – is proof that that where there’s a will to think about the larger universe, there’s a way. Two of her contrasting concepts were cashmere corduroy, smooth as the proverbial silk, and duffle bags lined in cashmere but with outsides made from torn antique rugs found in Turkish markets. The clothing alternative was to make the material into jackets, which the designer says lets customers feel that they are not deliberately buying something worthy, while also maintaining her company’s reputation for taste.
Employing a historic vision, there were references to the past – patterns that could be traced back to 3000 BC, when both weaving and painting began.
The designer wisely studies the past but makes her clothes for the present and future. And her influences of the season went back only to the era of Bob Dylan and the late Sam Shepard, although she also included in her inspiration list the Dalai Lama’s studio and the symbolism of Greek mythology.
It was to Gaby’s credit that with all that in her head she produced such a coherent and stylish collection. It started with colour – tailored suits in shades of beige moving to dresses in sunshine-yellow and coral. But the shapes still worked in black and the few pieces made from historic rugs were elegant, not in a hippy-deluxe way, but as wearable city clothing. Even the insertion of a pattern down the sides of a beige leather coat or dress was far from hippie territory.
The Gabriela Hearst business has always focused on knitting and tailoring. In this collection, she achieved just the right balance between those two skills and made them a fine match. The result was a collection about sustainability but never with that twinge of Jesus-sandals and worthy looks. This collection was not only about thoughtful dressing but also fashion elegance.