Amsterdam-based Duran Lantik is helping redefine sustainable fashion, tackling everything from its aesthetic through to the way the industry operates. He’s quickly gained acclaim for his unique spliced creations (including Janelle Monáe’s infamous ‘vagina pants’), which he creates by jigsawing different pieces of deadstock garments together. This past October, he worked with the London concept store Browns to create a capsule collection of one-off pieces made entirely from their surplus stock, as part of their new Be Conscious initiative.
Defining itself not as a fashion brand, but as a “platform for social issues and awareness” New York’s Collina Strada puts sustainability at the very heart of what it does. Helmed by designer Hillary Taymour, the brand’s runway shows exemplify this ethos. Previous outings have seen readings by indigenous environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and the brand pledging a list of eco commitments that includes using 75% deadstock fabrics, switching to biodegradable packaging and keeping manufacturing within the U.S.
Made to order by small-scale manufacturers from all over the U.K, Le Kilt pieces combine denim and cashmere offcuts with classic Scottish tartan. Taking an offbeat approach to the fashion industry, in the past they’ve eschewed presenting a collection during London Fashion Week in favour of a putting gallery show during London Craft Week, and they’ve run mending workshops to help people extend the lifespan of their clothes too.
This maverick Berlin duo first came onto our radar back in 2017, for clothes that were influenced as much by clubwear as the designers’ respective heritages. Right from their inception sustainability has been second nature to GmbH; their collections are created from the deadstock of high-end factories and upcycled lower-end brands like Helly Hanson. Since their 2016 launch, they’ve gone from strength to strength, earning a spot on last year’s prestigious LVMH Prize shortlist.
The phrase ‘vegan shoes’ probably doesn’t conjure up images of one of the coolest footwear labels around, but Mats Rombaut’s eponymous brand is proving otherwise. Produced in Portugal, his shoes are created from a medley of unlikely materials including natural fibres (like potato starch), cotton canvas, Piñatex and laser cut wood. His tongue in cheek lettuce sliders and cowboy boots have found fans in Lil Nas X, Tommy Cash, Bella Hadid and cult icon Paz de la Huerta.
Bethany Williams first caught our attention back in 2018, and in the short time since she’s been collecting accolades. As well as being part of the prestigious NEWGEN line up, she was announced as an LVMH Prize finalist in March, and won the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in February too. What separates Williams from many of her sustainably minded peers is her focus on community; each collection so far has seen her collaborate with a charity, from Vauxhall Food Bank, to the homeless charity Spires.
Zero Waste Daniel
Not exactly a new figure to sustainable design, zero waste daniel has been around since appearing on nbc’s reality show Fashion Star back in 2013. Still, the New York designer earns his place on our lineup as an earlier adopter who isn’t afraid to keep innovating. As well as running his brand for four years now, last December he partnered with Google Pixelbook to relaunch his Brooklyn make/shop as a forward-thinking retail space, and he collaborated on his last New York Fashion Week show with the New York Department of Sanitation too.
Rahemur Rahman’s vision of sustainability reaches through every aspect of production; from the dyes used on his fabrics to the rights of the workers in the factories that produce his clothes. For the British-Bangladeshi’s SS20 menswear collection, ‘For The People Who Dream in Colour,’ this embrace of sustainability met a radical rethinking of masculinity too. He even worked with the Tower Hamlets charity Streets of Growth to create the set for his show from upcycled furniture.
Since Demna Gvasalia’s Vetements reign a couple of years ago, the Babushka aesthetic has entered the mainstream. With a list of unlikely adopters (ASAP Rocky and Frank Ocean to name a few) and bigger brands like Gucci jumping on the bandwagon too, this is a trend with plenty of mileage yet. New York label OCCHII is proving it can be sustainable too, with its range of blouses, jackets and shirts made from old Russian scarves salvaged from design duo Ilona Davidoff and Leonid Batekhin.
Since Richard Malone’s London Fashion Week debut back in 2017, the Irish-born, London-based designer has been pioneering, working with an impressive reel of eco materials in the space of just a few years. He’s used everything from the nylon substitute Econyl (as seen on our innovations in eco friendly clothing roundup) to recycled tarpaulin taken from the sides of trucks. As well as this, he makes savvy partnerships across the industry, including an Italian silk-weaving mill which uses chemical-free dyes and is committed to reducing water waste, and artisans in Tamil Nadu, Southern India.
One of our favourite trends to emerge from the new wave of sustainably conscious designers might also be one of the most unlikely: hybrid shoes. From Duran Lantik’s footwear, to Helen Kirkum (who featured on our last roundup of sustainable designers to watch), and now Ancuta Sarca, trainer/high heel mash ups have taken off. To create her pieces, Sarca sources old Nike sneakers from the likes of eBay and depop, and splices them together with second hand kitten heels.
We’ve spotlighted Priya Ahluwalia’s energetic menswear before, but as this past year has only seen her go from strength to strength, we thought it was worth singing her praises again. Made exclusively from recycled deadstock, her strikingly original pieces, which combine elements of patchworking, sportswear and the silhouettes of her maternal grandfather’s wardrobe, . Despite all the hype she’s getting, responsible design remains central to what she does; in a recent interview with the Evening Standard she emphasised that she’s focused on growing, “in a sustainable way.”
The sustainable fashion round up doesn’t end here either. Started by former Highsnobiety editor Alec Leach, Future Dust is an Instagram account documenting the most exciting emerging designers (who also happen to be sustainable). The feed is a mine of eco fashion intel; as well as assembling pieces by the likes of Marine Serre, Ancuta Sarca and 424, Leach posts articles, news and info on new initiatives.
Read More: 20 T-shirt Brands You Should Know in 2020.