What: Parsons School of Design graduate Jacob Olmedo’s eponymous line – his graduation collection last year got him singled out as one to watch by Vogue Italia and design bigwig Dezeen.
Why know it: Olmedo takes going green to the next level – his designs are literally miniature, mobile gardens with wheatgrass sprouting out from oversized, sculptural coats and tops. The foundation of each piece is organic cotton that’s been treated with beeswax and biodegradable wood pulp felt – effectively fabric that supports hydroponics – with the plants alone taking up to 15 days to grow. He calls them “environmental armour”; expect the industry to dub it, ahem, horticouture.
Where to get it: Plans for more commercial (read: wearable) versions of his conceptual, labour-intensive designs will only be ready next year. Meanwhile, you can reach out to him directly via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: A five-month-old, New York-based label started by Chloe Mendel (yes, her father runs fur couturier J. Mendel) that, ironically enough, specialises in outerwear fashioned from faux fur.
Why know it: Its luxurious, quirky-meets-girlie designs will put an end to the antiquated mindset that eco-friendly fashion equals hippie gear. Tapping on her family’s expertise in the real deal, Mendel treats faux fur (hers are sourced from a specialist mill in Italy) the way high-end fur specialists do. For one, her coats are created using vintage fur machines that allow for intricate techniques, such as decorative top-stitching on the plush, fuzzy material. The same goes for the accessories and homeware pieces, a recent addition to the brand’s repertoire (prices range from US$40, or S$53, for a bracelet to US$1,500, or S$2,000, for a coat). It’s also hard not to like the fact that every coat is fully reversible – you might get (what looks like) shearling or mink on the outside, and polka dots or faux leather on the inside. While the debate on whether faux fur is indeed more environmentally friendly than real fur rages on, take heart in knowing that every purchase enables a homeless pet to be transported to Paws Chicago, a no-kill shelter.
Where to get it: The brand’s own website (www.maisonatia.com), as well as New York multi-label boutique Flying Solo.
What: An experimental label started by Japanese designer Tanaka Hiroaki, whose sculptural clothes first caught our eye during Australia’s first Eco Fashion Week held last November.
Why know it: Because its cerebral designs could fit right into a Rei Kawakubo or Martin Margiela collection. It’s not easy to wear Tanaka’s abstract-looking pieces (think shirts attached to frames to give the wearer the appearance of emerging from a piece of canvas), which he calls “a kind of artwork”. High-mindedness aside, his approach to being environmentally conscious is equally left field. The collection “Behind Useless Shape”, for example, was inspired by kumiko, the traditional Japanese art of joining wood together sans nails. Each dress or top was assembled using a variety of braiding techniques, eradicating the need for typical tools of the trade such as buttons and thread. Wastage, in turn, is minimised. Further elevating the eco-friendly mantra, each piece is made exclusively from organic wool, which ensures a faster, more efficient decomposition process.
Where to get it: There are currently no stockists, but those interested can e-mail email@example.com.
What: You probably already know New Yorker Hoffman’s namesake label, which has been around since 2000, and counts Beyonce and Kim Kardashian as fans. Like Gucci and co., it’s become more sustainable-minded – except that it started to do so a year before them circa S/S ’17, and has been stepping up its efforts every season since.
Why know it: It’s one of the few brands to have nailed the delicate balance between being eco-friendly and fashionable – if anything, its rise in the style stakes runs parallel to that in green standards. Previously better known for luxe hippie vibes with plenty of vibrant prints on beach resort-perfect separates, its aesthetic now is more arty downtown girl. S/S ’18, for example, is filled with vintage-tinged smocks, slips and tailoring with simple, relaxed cuts and generous splashes of colour-blocking and painterly florals. What about the collection is sustainable? Hoffman introduced hemp and made sure all cotton used was certified organic. This is in addition to her opting exclusively for digital printing to create her lively motifs (it creates less chemical and water wastage), and changing all packaging – tags, bags, boxes and stickers – to be compostable and recyclable. Already, her efforts have paid off: Last year, she won the “Brand Leadership in Advancing Sustainability” at the BF+DA Positive Impact Awards.
Where to get it: Local fans can shop from her own website (www.marahoffman.com) as well as Matches Fashion (prices here range from US$110, or S$146, for bikini briefs to US$495, or S$660, for a dress) and Net-a-porter.
This story first appeared in Female’s April 2018 issue.
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