LONDON — Browns has a reputation for championing young talent and setting the fashion agenda, but now it also wants to pave the way for sustainability in retail.
That’s why the London-based retailer is unveiling a documentary series that will highlight some of the most progressive voices in the fields of sustainability and fashion, including Amsterdam-based designer Duran Lantink; New York’s emerging talent Collina Strada, who is known for using her collections to tackle global political issues, and The Bear Scouts, an organization that links the different parts of the supply chain to ensure that products are manufactured in a sustainable and ethical way.
Each short film will launch alongside an exclusive capsule, adding to Browns’ Conscious Edit, which highlights products within its online and in-store edit that are created “with the future of the planet in mind.”
Lantink, who was among the semifinalists for this year’s LVMH Prize, is kicking off the documentary series with a four-minute film where he walks the viewer through his studio and explains his process of sourcing old-season designer garments and giving them a new lease on life by cutting them up and melding them with pieces by other designers.
During the presentation for the LVMH Prize, for instance, he presented a trench consisting of a mash-up of two Burberry coats with a printed Dior back panel and jersey mididresses created using cut-up vintage Dolce & Gabbana, Marni and Kenzo pieces.
“Upcycling is essential because there are tons of beautifully made garments that should never end up in the dump or burnt on our planet today. I know how to give them a new life, not only in a creative way, but also by maintaining their luxurious feel and even adding to it by creating one-of-a-kind pieces, using the same skills of any luxury fashion house,” said Lantink, who started collaging pieces together in university, not bearing the sight of clothes lying around the students’ studio. “My school hated it, they wanted me to create everything in new materials which I strongly disagree with. I think repurposing old stock is the way forward, it’s the modern mind-set,” the designer muses in the film.
Lantink also visited Browns’ warehouse to source old garments and create a capsule for the retailer, which consists of 45 pieces spanning everything from a patchwork bomber for men, to a maxi women’s dress made out of a mesh top and an elegant pink silk skirt, or a leather jacket featuring puffer sleeves.
“Browns were very open to let me work with their stock, without giving me any type of creative restrictions. The pieces they were offering were of the best quality and by the best designers, an essential aspect for me to be able to create a collection I love,” added Lantink.
Prices for the collection range from 400 pounds to 1,500 pounds and the range is set to launch Thursday, alongside an installation at Browns’ East London outpost.
Other exclusive capsules by emerging designers making waves in the field of sustainability, including Bode, By Walid and Ahluwalia Studio, will be released throughout the month of October.
The initiative follows on from a series of steps the retailer has been taking to encourage sustainable consumption, including a partnership with rental business Armarium and the use of eco-packaging.
“We know we have a long way to go; however, over the past two years we have been actively looking at ways to do better and offer our customers the choice to shop more consciously and this is happening across the business. As a buying team, we have been seeking new designers to showcase as well as actively working with the current roster of Browns brands to be much more transparent. Together with the guidance of the Farfetch in-house sustainability team and their partnership with external agency Good on You, we are taking tangible steps to offer brands guidance so they, too, can become more conscious in their approach to fashion,” said Ida Petersson, buying director for men’s and women’s wear.
According to Petersson, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to educating the consumer. But there’s already a lot of awareness within younger demographics.
“It’s the younger clientele who are particularly interested and even demand to know the journey of the garment. Most importantly we understand how precious time is today and the aim of this initiative is to help make our customers’ lives easier and show that you can be at the forefront of fashion and be conscious. Connor Ives was one of our first initiatives and was a raving success so we knew there was demand and love for unusual one-of-a-kind product,” added Petersson, referring to the success of an exclusive capsule by up-and-coming talent and Fenty collaborator Conner Ives, who created a capsule of dresses for Browns by repurposing vintage T-shirts.
Petersson also addressed the restrictions of working with deadstock for a retailer, namely limited sizing and quantities, and highlighted the importance of more collaborative efforts between retailers to scale the deadstock business.
“I would love to see all of us retailers come together, for once put aside the competition and combine our deadstock. Imagine if we all did deadstock projects that would try and reduce wastage,” she said.