They say that fashion will never be 100% sustainable. A brand can do its best to keep things eco-friendly, but in the end, clothes are still being produced. But Duran Lantink‘s method proves the industry that there’s a revolutionary (and very witty) way of making fashion as wasteless as possible. His upcycling methods – repurposing unsold designer-label clothes in his pioneering, cheeky way – date back to 2013, but only now seem to fully resonate with a wider audience. Autumn-winter 2021 season is the designer’s first (of course digital) fashion show collection. “Basically, during lockdown, I had time to work with my assistant, Thibault, on all the materials I had left over from collaborations with stores and brands, and to come up with this, our first runway collection.” Thibault is in the show, wearing, in one of his exits, a swishing lemon yellow dress that is reconstructed from another dress which had been left over from Lantink’s collaboration with Ellery last year. The point was to give him free rein to recycle and give new life to their unsold inventory. Lantink pointed out to Vogue how he’s unpicked, restyled, and refashioned multiple piles of clothes lying around his studio which “used to be” garments by Balmain, Balenciaga, Prada, Proenza Schouler, Vetements, Marine Serre, and many more. “In the beginning, we started with stores to see how we could work with their deadstock to see how we could stop their clothes going into landfill. And that was the beginning of thinking how we could create a completely new form of business.” The collection is like an aethetical 2000s-style remix of sexy revealing, sparkle and sharp minimalism. There’s a zigzaggy sparkly dress – one breast out – remade from something unsold from Balmain, and naked illusion half-dresses sewn onto stretchy body pieces. A flash of a diamanté thong (made from recycled materials) is homage to Tom Ford’s Gucci 1997 moment, but with a Duran Lantink logo planted in the crucial place. Yet Lantink has also now come up with an ingenious plan for extending the buzzy fashion “moment” so that it can morph into potentially infinite new shapes for his followers. He announced the launch of a service on his new direct-to-wearer website. “When you’re fed up with something, you can click on two tabs. One, where you can resell. On the other, we will work with you to remake what you have to become whatever you like. So a coat can become a dress. A dress can become a shirt. A shirt can be trousers. Whatever you want!” People who are up for engaging with Lantink’s process are destined to be the happy recipients of fully documented online records of where their clothes originated, and how they’ve been altered over time: a personalized archive. That redefinition of being able to love and re-love clothes in a never-ending cycle restyled by a designer is something truly, truly innovative.
It’s no news that vintage became our (old) new favourite way to shop – especially now, during the global pandemic. Some consumers are thinking deeply about their carbon footprint for the first time, look towards a sustainable lifestyle or simply want a true, one-of-kind gem in their wardrobe. Although I’m selling vintage for years now with on Vestiaire Collective (find my page here!), I just now started buying vintage for myself. I follow plenty of vintage lovers and collectors, from the well-known ones (like Alexander Fury and Shrimpton Couture) to emerging names, and I feel constantly inspired by their knowledge and fresh take on wearable fashion history. There’s a whole huge splash of vintage shops on Instagram lately, but it’s really not just about having that 2000s Dior Saddle bag or a Jean Paul Gaultier tattoo top in store. A truly succesful, digital vintage spot doesn’t imitate anything else – the key is an authentic personal style, which sharply curates the new arrivals and drops. Below, you will find my favourite five Instagram feeds that sell the most exciting vintage fashion, from archival Prada skirts and over-the-top Blumarine dresses to hand-knitted vests and Anna Sui shearling jackets. And so much more, because brilliant vintage isn’t just about the tag, but the soul of the garment!
Olivia Haroutounian‘s Real Life As Liv is one of the hottest (and unique) on-line vintage shops out there. In her styling photos, the 22-year-old college student frequently wears vintage Manolo Blahnik kitten heels, ugly-chic Prada skirts and Anna Molinari velvet coats. She’s been a collector since she was 10 years old, so it was only a matter of time that she become a vintage seller. Now, her sales pay her tuition at the University of Houston, where she studies corporate communication with a minor in anthropology. Her brand new on-line shop is a treasure chest, including such finds as boldly printed Xuly Bet tops, Ozbek lace dresses, fluffy Miu Miu bags, a velvet Chanel evening dress or a cute Anna Sui hoodie. You just won’t buy something that isn’t in Olivia’s personal, fantastically eclectic style. Moreover, Haroutounian is obsessed with the Sex & The City wardrobe, and it’s truly exciting to see her finds she shares on Instagram (lately, she posted a sheer Marc Jacobs dress from 1998, which was worn by Carrie in an alternate intro version of the show!). “I truly believe that the vintage market is going to become as big as retail and as powerful,” she told Vogue’s Liana Satenstein (the founder of Schmatta Shrink!) in an interview. “Keeping that in mind, the most important thing to me is keeping it accessible and realizing that my business is a vehicle for promoting being environmentally conscious. Also, educating people on fashion history and designers people have forgotten about or never heard of.”
This is not only one of my favourite on-line vintage shops, but also one of my favourite feeds to follow on Instagram! Desert Vintage sells truly beautiful garments, and they also create incredible editorials featuring the rare pieces. The story of this vintage business is equally compelling. Desert Vintage was founded in 1974 on the boulevard of 4th avenue in Tucson, Arizona. In July of 2012, Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan took over the already established Desert Vintage, with the desire to curate an undeniably stylish and eclectic mix of true vintage items for both men and women. Desert Vintage has come to be known as a great source for excellent, one-of-a-kind vintage pieces of quality and flair. They not only share a passion for vintage and antique items, but also love the art of mixing and styling collections in a contemporary and wearable way. The Desert Vintage website offers a variety of items that encapsulate the ultimate vision we have for the company. Throughout the website, you will find an eclectic mix of vintage that spans from the turn of the century through the 1970’s – like a Halston sequined dress or Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld gown. The inventory is forever revolving, and includes textiles from around the world, jewelry and leather collection of wearables and accessories.
Archive Club is based in Warsaw and was founded by Emma Knaflewska. This vintage shop is absolutely extraordinary, and if you seek vintage Prada or underground Japanese labels, this is a digital heaven. Also, Archive Club’s aesthetic is so, so oddly phenomenal. Here’s an excerpt from their website, because it utterly explains the experimental spirit of this shop: “Who still remembers the year of 1586? That’s when I founded my shop, Archive Club. At first glance, it may seem strange. I mean, it was ages ago. Believe me, the flow of time is something quite illusive. Sometimes it feels like I remember what happened 420 years ago better then yesterday. I recall that objects meant something different back then. They say that when choosing one’s clothes or arranging one’s apartment, we reveal our personality (or put on a mask). Few centuries ago it was more of a mutual relationship. These objects could take hold of us or at least tell us something. The clothes we’re selling are ancient shells of our material existence. These shells cannot be heard anymore, we’ve lost our connection to them. We treat items as inanimate objects, but surely they can speak to us. In the recent past it was understood in the time of Fin-de-siècle. Unless you talk to your shoes sometimes too?”
Lucia Zolea‘s carefully curated drops sell out in minutes. No wonder why, really – those pieces are just too good. A signature Lucia Zolea look? One of her cute knitted cardigans with roses or sheeps, a silk, pink night-gown (worn during the day!) and a 70s necklace with adorable, beaded flowers. I bet dozens of brands keep Zolea’s photos on their mood-boards.
Nong Rak is a Thai and American owned creative studio centered in sourcing and selling vintage and antique clothing, as well as working with photography, styling, creative direction, sustainable garment design and interdisciplinary design. Whether it’s a Victorian lace dress and early 80s Missoni cardigan or a 60s Woolrich blanket coat or one of Nong Rak’s “debris” crotchet designs, their idiosyncratic selection is all about intriguing textures, timeless quality and bold style. This is a vintage wonderland, I tell you.
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki. Photos sourced from the vintage stores’ Instagram pages and websites.
Most debuts are bumpy, epecially in COVID-19 circumstances. However, I can’t hide I’ve got some very mixed about Gabriela Hearst‘s first collection for Chloé. Knowing her style and philosophy at her name-sake, New York-based label, you could be sure she would take her sustainability-forward mindset to Paris (that was one of the main reasons why she was appointed as the creative director of the brand). Aesthetic-wise, we know her for ultra-luxurious, assertive minimalism with eventual, feminine details, but you will hardly find any irony in those cashmere cape-coats and gorgeous pleated leather dresses. Most of all, it seemed to me that the designer decided to revolt against the New York ‘Gabriela Hearst’ and let things take some sort of laid-back approach, in the spirit of the Saint-Germain-Des-Prés lifestyle (Chloé founder’s Gaby Aghion first fashion shows took place in Café De Flore. Hearst’s models walked out of the cult Brasserie Lipp into the empty, evening streets of Rive Gauche). The result is a collection filled with layered, nomadic silhouettes that unfortunately look cumbersome and overworked. The striped, knitted dresses, ponchos (they nodded to Hearst’s Uruguayan heritage), floating dresses (the flou is a must for every Chloé designer) and shearling coats were in general mild-looking. The designer closed the collection with puffer outerwear repurposed from Chloé overstock spanning designers and eras (I mostly noticed Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s memorable prints – the way they were clashed kind of diminished her Chloé tenure). The pieces were created with Sheltersuit, a nonprofit organization providing aid to the homeless, which also collaborated on a series of backpacks. As mentioned above, Gabriela’s Chloé will take a no-jokes road to sustainability (she said that Chloé had already decreased this collection’s environmental footprint by 400% compared to last winter’s line), which is admirable. She mentioned certified materials, circular economy, net-zero goals as just some of her aims for the brand, and placed sustainability center stage for her debut – as her inspiration, her material, her technique, and even her silhouette. This really does have a potential, especially in Paris, where that topic still feels dormant. But for her future offerings, she should get some proper styling (or editing) done.
Digital Paris Fashion Week started today, and it hit off with Marine Serre‘s “Core” collections. We’ve got used to Serre’s dystopian visions, which appeared to be ironically precise (she pioneered face masks on the runway seasons ago…). However, her autumn-winter 2021 line-up is all about optymism and hope. The collection wasn’t heralded by a shallow short movie, but by a website, http://www.marineserrecore.com, which went live at her regular spot on the Paris schedule. The website is a chronicle of all that goes into her designs, and ergo her view of the world, as much as it is a reveal of her new offering and a joyful, life-affirming celebration of family, friends, and community. “Core means the core of the brand, in much the same way as the idea of the core of a computer,” Serre said during a preview. “It’s all of the memory; how everything connects. Pragmatically,” she went on to say, “it’s been three years since we began. We’ve been doing a lot, being an extremely creative brand; we felt the urge to talk, ring the bell, raise the alarm, and reflect that in what we’ve created. This is maybe another moment. An opportunity to look at the interesting processes we’ve put in place; to really think about the garments and the materials we make them from – the transformation of those is really part of our creativity.” The collection is essentially a blueprint of all that Serre has accomplished since she launched the label, filled with her signatures. It’s also a pretty breathtaking and brilliant statement of what can be achieved in the space of three short years; what can emerge when you harness talent with a clear sense of purpose and convictions about what constitutes your values.
There are plenty of Serre’s upcycled silk scarves, draped around sinuous black dresses, which have been accessorized with talismanic metal belts and petite chain-strap bags, while other scarves have been worked into tunics and tees. Deadstock leather in shades of black, tan, and brown is graphically patched, with an anthropomorphic feel into blazers with squared-off shoulders, biker pants, and jeans-style jackets, sometimes layered up with short dresses created out of antique tablecloths. And the now iconic crescent-moon-motif-embellished bodysuits and regenerated denim or else was mixed with more hybridity in the form of sweaters and dresses collaged out of upcycled knits. All of this was shot on a terrific cross-generational cast of characters, kids included. “It was interesting to revise what we’d already done,” said Serre. “Basically the goal was to bring more real life to our design process, to bring garments into daily life.” Her solution was to ask the team to try things on, give their feedback, then modify to make everything more relatable. The website also houses a charming series of depictions of those within the extended Serre label family, wearing a few of the pieces, and engaged with their routines. “Cooking, spending time with your mother, in the garden, playing with your dog…pleasures which are simple,” said Serre, describing the scenes. “Fashion has always been about a dream, and I don’t like that. Here, fashion is the last thing you see. What you see first are the people.” Serre’s thinking about the site is akin to the way she thinks about her designs. Visit, spend time, come back, visit again, get to know what something means and what it stands for. Nothing should ever be fleeting, or disposable, gone in the blink of an eye.
While New York Fashion Week feels very sleepy this season (due to quite understandable reasons), that state of slowness has has its advantages: there’s more time to discover the newcomers. Well, in case of Tristan Detwiler, he is new to the fashion insiders, but on TikTok, he has a following of over 133,000 users who watch him cut up antique blankets and quilts, some dating back to the 1800s, and transform them into chore jackets, Baja hoodies, board shorts, and cocoon coats. The videos offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process and reaffirm Detwiler’s skills as a maker; when he wasn’t competing on University of Southern California’s surf team, he was taking fashion design classes and customizing his own clothes. Upcycled quilted jackets are Tristan’s brand Stan signature, with boxy, unisex fits that accommodate a multitude of sizes, genders, and ages. To hear him tell it, he made his first one in college to replace the quilts he draped over his shoulders for chilly mornings on the beach, but fell in love with the story behind old textiles, quilts in particular. In 2018, he joined the Bumann Quilters of Olivenhain, a group of ladies who have been quilting for decades. In addition to sharing the stories of their quilts and teaching Detwiler their techniques, they’ve gifted him with textiles and heirlooms to use in his collection. The opening jacket in his autumn-winter 2021 collection was made from one of those gifted quilts, a 1920s ‘one patch’ style in a checkerboard motif. It was large enough to make a matching pair of pants too. The second outfit’s ivory coat, chore jacket, and pants were all cut from the same 20th-century ‘wedding quilt,’ while other looks had a more haphazard mix. A jewel-toned jacket made from an 1890 Amish quilt was paired with trousers cut from a 1980s screen-printed potato sack. It’s worth mentioning that these items are already available to buy on Detwiler’s website; since they’re one-of-a-kind, fashion’s usual production time-table doesn’t apply (similar way of doing things at Imitation of Christ!). Detwiler describes himself as a storyteller and a curator, not necessarily a designer. He doesn’t aspire to be the next American mega-brand. But joining the New York Fashion Week calendar places him in the context of the mainstream fashion conversation, and inevitably draws comparisons to his peers experimenting with quilts and upcycling. Emily Bode comes to mind of course, though it isn’t really worth comparing their work; Bode’s is polished and fully “designed,” while Detwiler’s has the messier, intentionally rumpled attitude of California surf culture. Whether it’s a one-time fling or a serious venture into fashion, the vision of a sun-drenched surfer in his DIY quilted jacket and crotchet knit is compelling, especially in the COVID era.