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Fashion

Going Green: The New Eco-Friendly Designers To Know Now

We're almost halfway through fashion month and it's clear that the hottest buzzword in today’s fashion landscape continues to be sustainability. Here, the eco-friendly designers to keep up with – to amp up both your style and eco know-how.
Duran Lantink
Image: Instagram @duranlantinkyo   Remember the unforgettable trousers that pop singer Janelle Monae donned in her music video for the single ‘Pynk’ in 2018? Well, that was the brainchild of 33-year-old Duran Lantink, the Amsterdam-born, bred, and based designer who also helms his own eponymous label.   Lantink is passionate about producing clothing using innovative, sustainable, and ethical practices. His specialty is in upcycling, particularly with designer overstock that he sources directly from charity shops and fashion houses. Using collage techniques, the designer cuts up these discarded materials and mix and match them to produce wholly new garments. An example: a custom-made trench coat fashioned out of vintage Max Mara and a 1999 Dolce & Gabbana suit.   Although the designer has been around since 2016, 2020 is set to be his big year as he comes off of being shortlisted for the prestigious 2019 LVMH Prize. Impressing Loewe’s Jonathan Anderson and Kenzo’s Humberto Leon at the shortlist event early last year, Lantink already counts the upmarket Galeries Lafayette in France as one of his stockists. Now, Lantink is busy heading up a Talent Program as part of the upcoming Amsterdam Fashion Week, where he will be mentoring promising new designers. Priya Ahluwalia
Image: Instagram @ahluwalia_studio   Possibly the newest cool girl on the block, 27-year-old Priya Ahluwalia has quickly carved a niche for herself as a sustainable menswear designer. Working exclusively with recycled deadstock, the British designer produces sustainable menswear under her label Ahluwalia Studio, which she runs out of her studio that was converted from a bedroom in her mum’s house.   After trips to Lagos, Nigeria and Panipat, India (where her father and mother are from respectively) in 2017, Ahluwalia was inspired to commit to ethical fashion after coming across the huge volumes of donations and secondhand clothing being exported to these countries – Panipat, in particular, has been described as the garment recycling capital of the world.   An alum of Westminster University’s first Menswear MA cohort and the winner of the H&M Design Award 2019 – where she showcased her sustainably-sourced graduate collection – Ahluwalia’s colourful designs have even attracted the attention of Pharrell, who commissioned her to redesign the iconic Adidas SC Supercourt. The sneakers were subsequently presented at a PFW show where the designer got to mingle with the likes of David Beckham and Yohji Yamamoto. Ancuta Sarca
Image: Instagram @ancutasarca   For shoe fiends, keep the name Ancuta Sarca in mind. Though the Romanian-born designer debuted her namesake label only last September during London Fashion Week, Sarca has already accumulated a strong fanbase due to her distinct and novel creations: sneaker-stiletto hybrid shoes that are fashioned out of discarded Nike trainers and secondhand and vintage heels sourced from resale sites and charity shops.   Currently based in London, Sarca has an impressive CV: she graduated from BA and MA programmes at The Art and Design University of Cluj-Napoca in her home country, cut her teeth at British label Meadham Kirchhoff, before subsequently honing her skills under the tutelage of fashion designer Ashish Gupta. Sarca’s designs are instantly recognisable – her colourful hand stitched kitten heels have gained considerable traction on Instagram over the last few months.   Unsurprisingly, the designer – who is also a member of the Fashion East family – has managed to stock her designs at the exclusive East London concept store LN-CC. Having found an Italian factory that has agreed to keep to the designer’s environmentally-conscious upcycling motto, Sarca is now working on her second showing at LFW this month. Bethany Williams
Image: Instagram @bethany_williams_london   An alum of the well-regarded London College of Fashion, Bethany Williams established her eponymous label in 2017, though her star is really set to shine in 2020. Committed to the business of ethical fashion, the British designer collected a slew of accolades last year: recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design 2019 and the British Emerging Talent Menswear 2019 Fashion Award, a finalist of the 2019 LVMH prize, and being named as one of Business of Fashion’s 500, an index of the most influential people in fashion.   Identifying as a gender-neutral designer, Williams sources book waste, second-hand denim, and hand-woven textiles to create completely recycled pieces. Along the way, the 30-year-old has collaborated with organisations such as the women’s shelter Adelaide House to provide employment for departing female inmates, as well as casting models from the TIH homeless modelling agency. In her work, Williams often addresses socio-political issues such as homelessness and the environmental impact of fashion.   Passionate about sustainability and social change, Williams most recently just showed her F/W’20 Men’s collection at London Fashion Week, where she collaborated with The Magpie Project, a London-based charity that supports women and children under the age of five in temporary accommodation. The collection was also entirely organic or recycled, with materials ranging from recycled bedding to old blankets to toy ribbon waste. Anais Dautais Warmel
Image: Instagram @lesrecuperables   Parisian stylist Anaïs Dautais Warmel established her eco-friendly label Les Recuperables back in 2016, but it was only last October when the founder and artistic designer opened her first brick-and-mortar store in the trendy 18th arrondissement in Paris. Before, Warmel made do with hosting “secret sales” in different Parisian apartments to unveil her biannual collections.   Like so many others in this list, the designer has a passion for upcycling materials such as old household linens, upholstery, and discarded fabrics from haute couture workshops to create her pieces. Warmel does not use any new textile fabrics and also keeps the production to the French ciy of Marseille in order to reduce the carbon footprint generated from manufacturing.   The Les Recuperables boutique is a chic, minimalist space, showcasing the curated collection of original and stylish garments ranging from jackets to sweaters to skirts. Furthermore, the space also doubles up as a permanent gathering ground where consumers can meet to exchange ideas about sustainable fashion, and DIY workshops are also hosted where those interested can learn how to alter or embroider their own clothing. Rahemur Rahman
Image: Instagram @rahemurrahman   Since his debut show at London Fashion Week Men’s in 2019, Rahemur Rahman has been labelled a ‘breakout star’, and deservedly so. The British-Bangladeshi designer is holding up two torches: one for the sustainabilty movement in fashion, and one for more South Asian representation in the industry, which admittedly still suffers from a lack of inclusion of minorities.   A graduate of the renowned Central Saint Martins, Rahman takes his inspiration mainly from old family photos, where his father’s love for immaculate British tailoring is juxtaposed against the bold colours of his home and the fashions of his mother’s native country. For his debut A/W’19 collection, the designer also decided to go with not just a South Asian cast, but an entire South Asian team, from the stylist to the musician.   Rahman’s garments are made in Dhaka and uses natural dyes, which are far better than synthetic ones as the former are not only biodegradable, but can also be obtained from renewable sources that can be harnessed without harming the environment. Looking forward, the designer aims to repurpose discarded fabrics and transform them into textiles that can be used for his next collection.   Pia Schiele
Image: Instagram @loutre.co   Also a fan of upcycling is London-based Pia Schiele, who founded her home-grown brand Loutre just last year. Born in Germany, the designer and artist is a one-woman show operating out of her East London home studio, producing small batches of handmade garments and accessories made from materials such as old curtains and organic virgin fabrics.   An active skateboarder, Schiele’s designs are largely inspired by skate culture, with practicality being a foremost criteria. Hence, Loutre’s offerings are all comfortable and easy to wear, from the oversized jackets and loose fit pants to the hands-free bum bags that will allow skaters ease of movement.   Though young, Loutre has already attracted considerable attention: Schiele was invited to join Spark Progress, a new initiative by sneaker brand Converse that aims to support and spotlight young female creatives in London. Recently, Loutre also collaborated with Doyenne, a women-run skateboarding label from Glasgow, to design limited edition trousers for the brand’s S/S’19 and F/W’19 collections.