CUT AND PASTE: Upcycled capsule collections have been making their way into the mainstream as more designers become aware of fashion’s waste issues and look for sustainable solutions.
Yet upcycling has remained a side project for most brands, which continue to follow the seasonal cycle and presented new collections for spring 2021 this month.
Not in Kym Ellery’s case: The Australia-based designer decided to make a bolder statement this season and completely forgo designing a new spring 2021 collection, in favor of a fully upcycled range, created in collaboration with Duran Lantink, an emerging designer from Amsterdam and a specialist at giving old garments a new lease on life.
Lantink has made a name for himself by upcycling designer clothing from older seasons, cutting pieces from different brands up and putting them back together, so that you might end up wearing a dress made up of a Loewe skirt and Dries Van Noten sleeves.
This is the first time that he applied his signature cut-and-paste technique using pieces from a single brand. But he was up for the challenge, when Ellery handed him 150 archival looks.
“What I love about the collaboration is our different perspectives on the same product. During these times, I think it’s very brave of Kym to trust me with her designs and take the bold step of choosing upcycling over new materials,” said Lantink, who produced the collection over lockdown, sharing ideas with Ellery over Zoom and WhatsApp. “This was outside my usual aesthetic, and finding a way to satisfy both Ellery and myself was great,” he added.
The result of this experiment was 18 looks that melded Ellery’s architectural silhouettes with the edge and unexpected contrasts Lantink is known for: A sequin dress was cut up and patched back together with panels from a leather shirt; tailored herringbone coats were embellished with the brand’s signature ruffled sleeves, taken from a different old season garment, and a sequin column dress was updated with an abstract graffiti pattern.
Each garment will be created in limited runs of a maximum 10 pieces and no new fabric will be used in production.
“Sometimes in the world of fashion we need to find something more meaningful to say. [Duran’s] way of taking existing garments and remixing them into new designs was fascinating to me and I wanted to see how he would interpret the Ellery woman. Throughout the entire process, the greatest pleasure for me was watching him bring the pieces a new, positive energy,” Ellery said.