There’s a lot of greenwashing in the fashion industry –false claims of sustainability run rampant and though many designers are trying to change their evil ways (cue Santana) it seems like the best approach might be starting over and doing it right, right from the start. This is what Erin Beatty, the designer behind Rentrayage is doing. Erin was formerly, along with Max Osterweis, one of the designers of the brand SUNO–which was perhaps the first socially responsible luxury brand in the US. They received industry kudos and had a cult following but after eight years ended up closing their doors in 2016.
A lot has changed since then: there’s a general understanding that the world is in crisis on multiple levels and we need new systems. Enter Erin and Rentrayage. Erin launched Rentrayage in 2019 as the only luxury brand created completely through upcycled clothing. If you think this sounds like a teenager’s Depop project, think again.
Erin begins each collection by sourcing vintage clothing, combing vintage shops in New York, Los Angeles and parts of Europe, looking for repeatable fabrics and textiles from which to build unique but similar styles. For this reason, the core of Rentrayage is born from American workwear — flannel and chambray shirting, denim, seersucker, parkas, cotton t-shirts and sweatshirting — to which Erin adds feminine touches with deadstock fabric and upcycled trimmings, such as antique printed silks, eyelet lace, grosgrain ribbon, embroidered linen and hand-pleating. In this way, Rentrayage achieves a completely new blend and balance of masculinity and femininity within the traditional codes of fashion, creating a new aesthetic for the modern woman.
In a very real sense this is modern couture: each piece is one-of-a-kind and created from fabrics encoded in history. The current collection features several long skirts and dresses which juxtapose textiles associated with workwear, like denim or striped chambray, with white lace or a floral print. This mix keeps these them from being narrowly categorized as for “work” or “play” but lets the wearer choose how to style and for what occasion. Literally these are pieces that can be repeatedly worn (and shared on IG) without ever losing their appeal. And perhaps this is the best part of Rentrayage: because the most sustainable clothes are ultimately the ones you keep forever.