||Main >> News Listing >> June 2004 >> Article ID 5243
| Turning junk into funk||Type: Internet Article|
|Turning junk into funk||Jun 22, 2004|
|by Elizabeth Ferguson|
...The duo's sexy designs have been worn by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Pink, Christina Aguilera and Bjork. But while custom-designed item prices can skyrocket depending on the pattern and cutting involved, the look is affordable. Rubber-trim T-shirts start at $58 US; dresses start at $98...
|Fashion recycling all the rage now|
EDMONTON -- In this fashion world of reinvention, no waste bin is ever full. Recycled fashion designers throughout North America are salvaging sleeves, buttons, cuffs -- and even bicycle tires -- to make the trashy into the trendy. And the look is more sophisticated than ever.
Fashion designer Annie Langlois leaves no stone unturned, and no rag bag unemptied.
The Montrealer started her clothing company, On & On Ecolo Chic, in 2001, with the goal of making something old into something new. Today, her fashions are so hot that celebrities like Charlize Theron, Susan Sarandon and Keira Knightly can't resist buying them.
Apart from a zipper here or thread there, Langlois' fashions are 100 per cent recycled, yet, although the fabrics have been worn and handled, the garments look hot off the press.
"We completely destroy (the old clothing) and start all over again," she said. "Our mission is (that) it has to look new, not recycled."
The 27-year-old gets her materials from rummage depots, where she digs through discarded clothing that would have been made into rags. She spends tedious hours salvaging items made of fabrics that have that haute-couture potential.
Langlois recycles pretty much everything, including jeans, leather, wool, men's shirts and old dresses made of silk or satin. She cuts around stains and holes, and is careful to match her fabrics. Each On & On garment may require fabric from up to three other pieces of clothing and require up to an hour of cutting, but Langlois thinks the time-consuming process is worth it.
"If my company weren't focused on the environment, I wouldn't do it anymore," she says.
Langlois, who shares a retail space with art studio Espace PEpin in Old Montreal, fashions pretty much everything from the vintage fabrics: tunics, jackets, purses, dresses, bracelets, even bikinis. Her look is popular with people on the street, Hollywood stars and Montreal singers and actresses.
But the designer believes fashion isn't just about beauty and style. It's about something more: ethics.
"It's not about fashion anymore, to me," she said. "It's a way of life."
Langlois isn't the only one breathing new life into what's been tossed away.
Waisted, a company in Quebec, makes belts with car seatbelt buckles ($20-$60 Cdn). In Seattle, Resource Revival has fashioned bicycle inner tube valve cores into dangly earrings ($12 US). Edmonton designers Linda Ha and Reece Hobbins recently started a company in Vancouver called Sire of Tate, which sells clothing made from both new and vintage materials. Pennsylvania-based Littlearth is "recycling the world's pop culture" with soda and beer bottle caps made into colourful belts ($35-$45 US) and custom-made purses made from American and Canadian licence plates ($59-$200 US).
"The idea is that people can have products that are good for the environment but also fashionable and fun to use," said Littlearth's co-founder Ava DeMarco, adding that each item is a one-off. "You can really express your individuality."
In New York City, designers Gaelyn and Cianfarani are burning rubber on the catwalks, and leaving a memorable mark.
Their recycled rubber material is made from discarded bicycle inner tubes, which are sliced open, washed, hung to dry and then sewn together into what designer Atom Cianfarani calls an "urban hide."
The new material is then cut on patterns and sewn into haute couture clothing that looks like black leather, but won't lose its shape like a real animal hide.
Cianfarani, a Canadian who grew up in Mississauga, says the duo's goal was two-fold.
"We wanted to support ourselves in New York City and do something good," she said of herself and business partner Genevieve Gaelyn. "And recycling has been part of my nature for my whole life."
The duo's sexy designs have been worn by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Pink, Christina Aguilera and Bjork. But while custom-designed item prices can skyrocket depending on the pattern and cutting involved, the look is affordable. Rubber-trim T-shirts start at $58 US; dresses start at $98.
Indeed, the eco- and vegan-friendly material helps the duo convey their message of treading more lightly on the earth. "We're both environmentalists, that's pretty much the foundation," said Cianfarani. "We save close to a ton of garbage per year."
The fashion experts love it.
"Wow, who would think of this except a true designer?" said Norman Martel, co-ordinator of fashion design at Montreal's International Academy of Design and Technology, referring to the Gaelyn and Cianfarani's urban hides. "Personally I think it's a very cool idea."
But Martel says recycled fashion isn't a new idea.
"Even when I was a little boy, women used men's pants and made them into boy's pants," he said.
Helen Lefeaux, founder of Helen Lefeaux Inc. School of Fashion Design in Vancouver, agrees. "It has always been done," she said. "It's not a novel phenomenon."
Lefeaux, originally from the Czech Republic, explains that while she was growing up, people didn't have the money to buy new things, and had to re-invent the old. Lefeaux herself fashioned a stylish winter coat from her father's old coat during the Second World War, when resources were scarce in Prague.
"I didn't want it to be just black," she said. "I bought coloured thread so it would show up better, (sewed) a plaid on the pieces of fabric and had a gorgeous coat."
"We're sated completely with the sameness of the Gap and Old Navy," said Lefeaux.
Back in Montreal, Langlois agrees.
"You buy a piece, and you know the designer touched it," she said. "It's magic."
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