Behind striking colours and luxurious textures lurks a very sinister side of fashion garments. As fashion trends steadily come and go, the build-up of off-cuts and unused castaway fabrics rapidly meet their fate in landfills and incinerators. Through up-cycling, however, a new wave of innovators at (re)vision society are paving the way for sustainable fashion. With their combined efforts, the London-based creative studio proves there truly is life after death for turfed-out textiles.
Despite 'eco-friendly' becoming an industry buzzword, it's still easy to turn a blind eye to the practices happening behind the scenes. After witnessing the effects of unsustainable fashion methods first-hand in Varanasi, India, (re)vision society founders, Stacey and Frank Manière, knew something had to be done.
"We went there to broaden our horizons and seek answers to some of the things that had been bothering us… but eventually we came back with more questions than answers," Stacey tells me. After returning to London and with help from Yasue Carter, (re)vision society took its first breath of new life.
(re)vision society's focus on sustainability surpasses its finished products. While it aims to produce beautiful items, the underlying goal is to ignite discussion and cause consumers to question just how ethical their fashion habits are. "We've only released two projects thus far because it's important to us to create things we believe in," Stacey continues. (re)vision society doesn't create seasonal collections, meaning each piece has not only been meticulously designed to accomplish timeless style, but also to truly capture the studio's values.
(re)vision society's first project was the creation of a hybrid tote/rucksack constructed out of menswear off-cuts from an East London factory. Trimmed with excess leather and rescued material, its handles are made from fabric originally meant for shoe production. Even the bags' interfacing was completed with waste textiles. "We had to look at the process in a whole new way. It's a bit like designing in reverse from what people don't want into something they do want," says Stacey. Given the immense waste in the industry, the range of off-cuts' sizes, shapes and materials provide designers at (re)vision with limitless, if not slightly irregular, creative possibilities.
Through increased awareness by brands and greater education about dwindling resources, green fashion continues slowly weaving its way into the industry. Even so, Frank reveals that the demand for up-cycled fashion remains niche, with many continuing to ignore the negative effects encapsulated in mass production: "There are a lot of people who deny this is an issue or simply do not care about it and others who know it would be a good idea to clean it up but would probably prefer fairies could just come and take care of it for them.”
There's no denying that (re)vision society's efforts are powerful and positive steps forward. But with every sustainable fashion company rescuing materials, there is an unsustainable company discarding those materials. So how do eco-friendly designers resist relying on rescued material? "Rescuing waste materials from going to landfill or incineration is not going to be the end-all solution to the fashion industry's problems," says Stacey. "It's not a solution to use off-cuts, we wish all this waste didn't exist in the first place, but we believe it's a key step in changing the bigger picture."
Inevitably, the environment's fate rests in the hands of consumers, with over-production and consumption playing pivotal roles. This season's trend or environmental degradation - which pattern do buyers truly want to change?
To see more of (re)vision society: http://revisionsociety.com
Words: Katy Shields