The F/W 2021 runways witnessed many designers patching together fabrics to produce garments in an exuberant and eclectic clash of color, print and pattern. This ‘collage style’ worked well for all manner of items, including dresses, coats and separates. Designers and brands including Etro, Chloe, Marine Serre and Dolce & Gabbana embraced this aesthetic as the ultimate in bohemian chic.
Using recycled clothing to create high fashion
It's a trend that can be traced back to the early nineties when Grunge fashion was at its height. In 1991 the young African designer, Lamine Kouyaté, founded a label he called Xuly.Bët Kouyaté had the visionary idea of using recycled clothing to create high fashion, reshaping found garments by cutting, stitching and making modifications that ranged from subtle re-shaping to complete transformations. He turned dresses into skirts, skirts into bags, stockings into halter-tops and most famously, sweaters stitched together to create dresses. Often he would leave threads hanging at the end of stitching, their red color often emphasizing the process of transformation from discarded garment to designer statement. It's a style that Kouyaté uses to this day.
Off the runways, as more and more designers seek out ways to become sustainable, piecing together recycled garments is a great way to achieve this goal while staying on trend. Fast-forward to Fall 2021 and collage-style fashion can be found in many stores.
Based in New York, Rentrayage, is a recently founded business that is fully committed to sustainable practices and circular systems. As their website states, they believe that: "Every piece of clothing, old, used, vintage or new has value, beauty and purpose. Everything we make is born from existing materials or has the ability to be reborn. All materials we use can be returned to the earth and accepted back into our ecological systems".
At British company Ragyard it's a similar story. They seek out unique items, which they reimagine and recycle. Instead of making new clothes from scratch, they reduce waste and give pre-loved pieces a new life. Attaching large embroidered peacock appliques to the sleeves of vintage camouflage jackets and sweatshirts is a signature Ragyard style. Dresses and skirts are pieced together using recycled denim shirts, reworked t-shirts and other materials. Vintage Levis are decorated with sportswear patches and pre-worn track pants get bedazzled with diamante studs.
LVMH Prize finalist, Conner Ives garnered the attention of the fashion world even before his graduation from London's Central Saint Martins. He has tapped into his own version of collage style, through the use of dead-stock or vintage garments, many of them t-shirts.
Looking at some of the collections being shown for Pre-Fall 2022, collage style will be shown on the runways for yet another season.