Bye-Bye Gucci, Louis V and Balenciaga: These are the Brands Worth Watching Instead

–by Katya Moorman

3 brands we like better than the usual suspects…

I mean, if we’re just looking for inspiration let’s look at brands that actually give a damn!

A 100% POLYESTER Blazer from Gucci on ssense for $3980
A 100% POLYESTER Dress from Balenciaga for $6750

Despite these, and other conglomerate brands (owned by LVMH or Kering) mouthing sustainability they continue to do business as usual. The above are just two items made from material that will poison the earth at the end of their life and shed microplastics in the meantime. Then we have Pharrell’s bag for Louis Vuitton made from killing crocodiles for one million dollars. Just thinking about it makes me throw up a little in my mouth.
If all the above sickens you as well, fear not. Here are some alternatives if you’re looking for some fashion with a Capital F inspo.

Ronald Van Der Kemp

3 looks from Ronald Van Der Kemps recent sustainable couture collection an ecofriendly fashion brand

I am continuously surprised that Ronald van der Kemp and his eponymous label aren’t better known. Because his work is truly next level. On the other hand because it’s couture he’s not paying for ads to push product so it puts his work in a sort of fashion insider category. Or perhaps even the more obscure eco-friendly fashion insider.

After years spent working for other people in the industry and seeing the level of waste produced he decided to start his own line. That was in 2014 and he’s never looked back. He lives in Amsterdam and shows at Paris couture week as the first sustainable couture designer.

Each piece is made with unique and unusual, high-end existing materials, using time consuming traditional sewing techniques and hand finishing, with extreme attention to detail. He sought to prove that “sustainable” practices and exquisite fashion were not mutually exclusive. He has more than succeeded and set a high standard that we wish the Balenciagas of this world would try to match.

Iamisigo by Bubu Ogisi

Iamisigo by Bubu Ogisi and Naomi Campbell modeling an eco-friendly fashion brand

It was recently Lagos Fashion Week and it’s safe to say that the ecofriendly fashion brand IAMISIGO is on everyone’s radar. The description on the (very creative) website reads IAMISIGO is a contemporary wearable art brand based in Lagos, Nigeria; Nairobi, Kenya; and Accra, Ghana. Our core mission is to preserve history and transmit knowledge through fashion and textiles, utilizing the human body as the ultimate canvas and vehicle of communication. We craft wearable art from unconventional materials and heritage textile traditions, informed by extensive research with remote African communities across the continent.

Which, while all true, doesn’t fully do the clothes justice. While we love the collaborations with local artisans and the commitment to reusing materials, it’s the unique designs that excite us. For example up top left is a Black long crochet wool dress and black crochet sisal hat. Made from hand cut brass droplets on crocheted cotton dress and hand-cut brass droplets on crocheted sisal hat, dyed with lawsonia, crafted and constructed in Kenya. And on the right is Naomi Campbell in a handmade brass dress designed and constructed by Bubu Ogisi.

Matty Bovan

3 colorful upcycled look from Matty Bovan. A UK based ecofriendly fashion brand

I’ve been watching Matty Bovan since he graduated with a MA in knitwear from CSM in 2015 (and received the LVMH graduate prize). After three seasons with Fashion East he had his first solo show in 2018 which was well received and reviewed by Sarah Mower–one of our fave reviewers and the fairy godmother of new talent–in Vogue. Since then he’s been going strong and doing things his way. Which is using almost all upcycled fabric, small batch production and literally making most of it himself. He isn’t interested in mass producing, and a fashion world used to telling designers to be more commercial, are coming around to his way of thinking. At least those in the UK. I can’t imagine what the CFDA with their liaison with Amazon would do with someone with his unique talent. Not enough, I imagine.

So there you have it. I’m sure there are a few more ecofriendly fashion brands. But we invite you to support and have aspirational desires for these brands of truly creatives than the corporate behemoths eating the world.

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