Mini Encyclopaedia Of Future-Proof Accessories From Chanel, Cartier, Hermes & More
Short for biodegradable textiles, this refers to materials engineered out of organic sources such as bacteria, algae, animal cells or yeast. It’s not new in material science, but real-life applications have been largely limited to prototypes with scalability and refinement still an issue. That has not stopped some of luxury’s biggest names from delving into them though and, more significantly, incorporating them into pieces that we can actually buy.
This season, Hermes – a name synonymous with exquisite leather – for example has released the Victoria, a handsome duffel crafted partly out of Sylvania. Created with the Californian start-up Mycoworks that finesses materials out of mycelium (read: the root structure of mushrooms), this leather alternative is tanned and finished in the maison’s workshops in France to enhance its durability. The plan is for the label to use it alongside its existing line-up of luxurious skins.
Over at Cartier, the latest generation of the signature Tank Must aren’t just the brand’s first solar-powered timepieces. They also debut a leather-esque strap that comprises zilch animal parts and is instead 40 per cent plant matter produced using waste from apples grown for the food industry in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. According to the brand, this – as compared to manufacturing a traditional watch strap – helps cut down its carbon footprint by six times; water usage by up to 10 litres; and conserves energy equivalent to that needed for charging 200 smartphones.
SLGS – SMALL LIFESTYLE GOODS
With the pandemic fuelling fashion’s foray into homeware and utilitarian dressing all while not dampening handbag sales (see the surge in revenue at most of the major luxury houses in the first half of 2021), is it any surprise that we’ll see the emergence of a new accessories category that marries the two? Going beyond the common notion of SLGs (small leather goods), these products often have a specific, convenient function and have been designed to be carried easily around.
Think a metal water bottle with a leather or shearling-sheathed case and shoulder strap from Givenchy. Lipstick holders are getting more popular and playful, and if that’s not reason enough to get one, then how about this version from Chanel covered in hand-applied strass using a special adhesive film?
Along with the maison’s “compact case” bag that in fact is a hardy carrier for Airpods or trinkets fitted with an internal mirror, it comes on the brand’s signature leather and chain strap; is meant to be worn like a necklace; and is exactly the kind of new luxury people would want to spend on.
The scene for designer jewellery – fine jewellery by luxury fashion houses – has been heating up with more names getting more serious with their expansion into the field (see Louis Vuitton’s acquisition of the 1,758-carat Sewelo diamond last year). The perks of doing so are obvious: Besides elevating their artistry and status further, it offers considerable revenue gains, pandemic notwithstanding, as reports of spiking jewellery sales have shown.
At the same time, traditional jewellers are increasingly taking a leaf from the fashion world often to appeal to Gen Y and Z. Case in point: The French house of Cartier that’s been introducing distinctively youthful and unisex jewellery like its punk-styled Clash de Cartier collection that debuted last year. This month, its boutiques here usher in some of the line’s boldest designs yet including unexpected rose gold pieces such as a mono-earring and an extra chunky ring with larger studs as well as variations accented by onyx beads or Tahitian pearls.
And just six months after the launch of its Double C de Cartier – a boxy shoulder bag with a jewelled clasp that’s hands down its chicest and most modern handbag yet – the maison adds a baguette-style adaptation with a trendy chain strap. Available in small and mini, it comes in sorbet shades like peach and mint green in addition to its house colours (pictured here and slide above) with the brand ensuring the traceability of the origins of the calfskin used as part of its commitments to sustainability. We reckon this begets a third “C”: cool.
The taste for modular or multi-wear fashion items continues and designers are getting increasingly nifty with them. The bracelet from Loewe that debuts in Fall/Winter 2021, for example, is in fact a pencil-case like, necessaires-friendly pouch made from nappa leather so soft that it can be worn wrapped around the wrist (just stash its detachable shoulder strap aside and clasp both ends together). Now that’s some magic we could all wish in our everyday lives.
Sarah Vanrij / Loewe
At the point of writing, Singapore is experiencing some of its most intense rainfall of the year with flash floods that have immobilised traffic and commuters – another glaring symptom of the profound climate change problem. Enough said? Some of Fall/Winter 2021’s chicest rain boots include Longchamp’s PU-based, riding-inspired Candice; Tod’s rendition with the brand’s name embossed onto a cameo-like applique; Valentino’s Atelier rubber boots with 200 3D-printed rubber petals on each side; and Bottega Veneta’s knee-high extension of its popular Puddle.
Practical, perennial, well-crafted styles given an arty flourish look set to grow in popularity – what with them offering newness and reliability all at once. They can be as simple as this Rogue jacquard tote from Coach – one of the brand’s signature bags – that features the use of upcycled woven textiles and vintage embroidered patches.
Or they can be as elaborate as Dior’s labour-intensive, hand-finished Lady D-Lite tote – another timeless number – that’s fully woven with a multicoloured “Dior Constellation” motif inspired by the work of Italian artist Pietro Ruffo. Either way, the new attitude towards consumerism is evident: try to buy less and definitely buy better.
Photography Vee Chin Styling Imran Jalal, assisted by Danessa Tong Grooming Faz Ismail
This article first appeared in the September 2021 Brave New World edition of FEMALE