1) Martin Margiela
A former design assistant to the ever-unpredictable and always entertaining French fashion master Jean Paul Gaultier, Belgium born Martin Margiela clearly benefitted from his expert tutelage. Upon forging his own path in 1988, his resulting fashions – which are produced under a conventional label as well as his own limited edition Artisanal line – are infused with an avant-garde edge that makes the most of upcycled vintage materials that are masterfully deconstructed and reconstructed into very edgy, innovative garments. Despite his underground appeal and very low profile, Margiela has enjoyed major acclaim and commercial success with his Hermes affiliation and the acquisition of his brand by Italian clothing design company Diesel.
2) Angela Johnson
In their song “Rock ‘n Roll Lifestyle”, musical group Cake asked “how much did you pay for your rock ‘n roll t-shirt that proves you were there, that you heard of them first?” I don’t know about everyone else out there, but judging from the stacks of frayed tees cluttering my dresser drawers, I paid far too much…but I can’t ever seem to bid them farewell. Fortunately, Arizona t-shirt upcycler Angela Johnson is on the scene to save our closets from their current bloated condition with her collection of fun-and-funky handcrafted dresses produced from 100% repurposed tees. Whether you send her a collection of your old vintage 80s band tees or you have blind faith in her own selections, she’ll cut and sew the design that you fancy, creating a one-of-a-kind fashion statement that will make you the absolute envy of the ball.
3) Deborah Linquist
Featured in her 2010 Fall/Winter “Cowgirl Meets Thunderdome” collection, eco-designer Deborah Lindquist teamed up with the brainchild behind Sonic Fabric to create two fashion-forward pieces spun out of recycled cassette tapes. Yes, tapes. Those who are familiar with Alyce Santoro’s clever upcycling company know that she pedals fedoras and limited edition neckties along with her partner Julio Cesar made out of recycled cassette fabric (in a ratio of 50% cassette tape to 50% polyester). What makes them even more unique is that when a tape head is run across the surface of each tie, the wearer can actually hear sound collages from Santoro’s “Between Stations” CD. In her latest collaboration with Linquist, a bustier dress and corset top feature the unique music fabric along with additional eco-friendly elements such as hemp silk and recycled leather.
4) Nancy Judd
Being an environmental educator has its advantages, especially when you decide to create your very own examples of chic, wearable art using the very materials that you pontificate on during your seminars. For Recycle Runway queen Nancy Judd, it just seemed like a natural extension of her day job and a great way to reinforce the lesson that there is always another practical way to use materials that we’re inclined to drop in our garbage cans. Using VCR tapes as well as Target shopping bags, hand cut aluminum can sequins, artfully folded junk mail and reclaimed advertising materials, Judd has mastered a vintage fashion style that leaves all waste bins quaking in her presence.
5) Orsola de Castro & Filippo Ricci
Sustainable fashion line “From Somewhere” approaches their trashion couture in a slightly different manner than their competitors. After taking a cold hard look at the excess inherent in the fashion industry, they’ve made a name for themselves by converting surplus “luxury designer pre-consumer waste” including silk, cotton, tweed, knitwear and jersey fabric swatches, damaged materials, remaining remnants left on cardboard rolls, production off-cuts and proofs into unique garments that enable the end consumer to play a direct role in walking a far more eco-friendly path. The design team of Orsola de Castro & Filippo Ricci, also founders of London Fashion Week’s British Fashion Council Estethica as well as Tesco Clothing’s F&F Collection, are deeply committed to showing the world that ethically produced, contemporary designs can be created from the dregs of the fashion industry in a way that is equally as stunning as virgin materials.
Catch part two of this series tomorrow...same bat time, same bat channel ;)