With luxury behemoths like Gucci and Prada endorsing a circular fashion narrative, and the likes of Bella Hadid shopping vintage, it’s safe to say we’re witnessing an industry evolution—one that reimagines yesterday’s clothes to fit tomorrow’s trends. HELLO! explores this sustainable luxury drive.
In this era of low-rise denims and cinched corsets, a sense of nostalgia takes hold. What became of our beloved bomber jackets of 2016? Or the peculiar peplum craze of 2014? With each turn of the runway, fashion revels in revisiting the past— particularly, in the resurrection of archival styles.
However, luxury fashion houses are upcycling more than just ideas today, breathing new life into pre-loved, vintage clothing. Here are some of the leading agents of change making sustainability a whole lot more stylish!
Bridging the past and the present, Gucci Continuum summoned innovative designers, visionary artists and global brands to collaborate on a unique project, a concept store called the Vault, featuring archived pieces that have been restored. Iconic treasures were reborn as sneakers by Vans, corsets by Alice Pons, bomber jackets by Slam Jam and Alpha Industries and so much more! Extending the lifespan of these familiar fabrics echoes Gucci Continuum’s circular philosophy. Brought to life by Art Director and Photographer Max Siedentopf, these re-galvanised materials reflect each designer’s unique universe. With their inaugural collection having launched in March 2023, the past has truly become the foundation for building an ever-evolving future at Vault.
HELLO! Highlights: A$AP Rocky was the first to be spotted in a custom set by Proleta Re Art’s collection for Gucci Continuum in March!
Maison Margiela: Recicla
With every brand doing their bit, the epitome of French luxury, Maison Margiela, introduced their limited-edition upcycling marvel, Recicla. Revered for their mastery in fine leather goods, they have ingeniously used leftover leather to craft a collection entirely centred on reusing and repurposing. Talking the language of today’s eco-conscious consumer, the line-up boasts elegant keychain wallets and nifty coin purses. Unveiling upcycled versions of their classic 5AC bag, they have also forayed into sustainable shoes with the Recicla Replica sneakers—all complete with Margiela’s signature four stitches. Where each thread tells a tale of conscious couture, the brand’s website proudly deems these pieces “articles imbued with the soul of history, resonating the grammar of today”.
“I encouraged the team to go out there and come back with charity shop finds to upcycle. Rather than reproducing the emotion that I was searching for, we’ve been brave enough to actually include it in the collection… you will see some familiar things that have been reworked in[to] the equation” — John Galliano, Creative Director at Maison Margiela elaborates in his podcast.
A 23-year-old Parsons School of Design graduate joined forces with an 86-year-old former womenswear designer to create a one-of-a-kind, slow and sustainable label—LilyEve—with the sweetest duo at the helm. Lily Clempson and Michel Cantin upcycle towels and blankets from luxury brands like Hermès to craft chic jackets and comfortable co-ord sets. In an interview, she delves into their strict zero-waste policy.
“Unlike larger fashion brands, we have no leftover fabrics. Every inch of the towel or blanket is used, for hats, bags, patch pockets, etc, so we are able to create new pieces from what we have left over, which would have otherwise been thrown away.” By tapping into the treasure trove at resales and auction houses, they craft a colourful mosaic of the future.
The Mulberry Exchange
Out with the old, in with the bold! Mulberry takes the lead with a sustainable stride: a buy-back scheme that redefines the fashion lifecycle. Striving to create treasures that transcend generations, they champion circular fashion, allowing customers to bring in their old Mulberry classics and exchange them for credit to buy a brand-new bag. The pre-loved items are restored and then sold to their next owners. And the cherry on top? Not only can one elevate one’s style with a new arm-candy each season, but also find rare vintage designs from the archives of Mulberry’s stylish past—including those no longer in circulation!
Upcycled By Miu Miu
Drawing from an extensive network of vintage boutiques across the globe, Upcycled by Miu Miu unveiled a jaw-dropping, exclusive collection of 50 handcrafted leather jackets last year. Juxtaposing the feminine allure of floral motifs with their characteristic rebellious energy, they bottled up the brand’s essence in each piece. And that’s not all—Prada launched a special Re-Nylon collection of 80 one-of-a-kind dresses, travelling back in time from the riveting ‘30s to the roaring ‘80s. Maintaining the silhouettes, they embellished them with modern motifs from the brand’s atelier. (We’re talking giant satin bows and statement puff sleeves!) Upcycled by Miu Miu also made headlines with their all-denim collaboration with Levi’s, featuring pieces that not only echo the fashion of the past, but also carry the memories of the person who loved them before.
HELLO! Highlights: Lila Grace, model and daughter of supermodel Kate Moss, stars in the campaign for the brand’s collaboration with Levi’s.
They say all the best people in the world are mad, but we say, all the best watches are! Nestled amid charming Parisian streets, the experts at Mad Paris harness their technical prowess to upcycle and customise some of the world’s most coveted, pre-owned timepieces. Shrouded in an aura of mystery, the brand encrusts diamonds, emeralds, sapphires and rubies on an array of watches—a revered Rolex, a venerable Richard Mille and even a classic Patek Phillipe. And one may question the rationale behind spending thousands of dollars on an upcycled watch, to which the answer is fairly simple. It lies in the satisfaction of walking into a room with the certainty that no one else can possess the same timepiece. Mad Paris has ingeniously redefined upcycling, infusing it with an aura of aspiration.
HELLO! Highlights: Popstar Drake’s Patek Philippe Nautilus is covered in emeralds, designed by creative genius Virgil Abloh and brought to life by Mad Paris.
Meet Gabriela Hearst, the reigning sensation of the sustainability game. Her commitment to long lasting, circular fashion has endured since the launch of her first womenswear collection eight years ago. From using 60 percent deadstock fabric for her Paris Fashion Week debut in 2021 to spearheading Chloé’s 2022 eco-campaign, she’s a trendsetter with a purpose. Cut to 2023, and her resort collection in collaboration with E.L.V Denim is an absolute dream! Besides reusing leftover fabric from previous collections, upcycled post-consumer waste denim is patched into pants and sewn onto shirts—weaving the ultimate green narrative!
“We’ve taken old pieces from our stock, like two coats that we love in two different colourways, and disassembled and reconstructed them. It’s a lot of hand labour, but you’re using something that’s already in existence; you didn’t take something new to make it” — Gabriela Hearst delves into her commitment to sustainability in an interview.
HELLO! Highlights: Angelina Jolie’s Atelier Jolie, a capsule collection, is set to release in October 2023. Co-designed with Hearst, it’s made entirely of deadstock material!
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s September 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!