So you want to have a sustainable wardrobe? There are lots of things you can do; buy less, choose seconds, care for your clothes and make sure they’re put to good use when they are too worn to wear. Whether it’s for the love of fashion or a concern for the environment, there’s a growing number of people turning to the old style make do and mend in fashion. 7.7 million of us in the UK now count making clothes as a hobby. According to Hobbycraft, sales of patterns for both sewing and knitting soared 60%, and sewing machine sales were up nearly 30% despite the fact that the price of a dress pattern can cost more than a similar dress in Primark.

But if you do want to treat yourself to something new, with close to 52 seasons and year a new collection coming out every week, it can easily become suffocating. What does a sustainable fashion brand look like? Is there a way to marry sustainability and fashion, and still look great?

We turned to one of the UK’s most promising sustainable fashion designers Christopher Raeburnto visit his Remade studio and find out. How you can turn an old parachute into a season's must-have and why life rafts make brilliant bags.



From the Remade studio: from woollen battle jackets to moon jackets

Launched in 2016, the Christopher Ræburn 'Remade' studio is a powerhouse for sustainable fashion design, where the remaking, recycling and/or reducing of textiles is embedded into every piece of every collection.

Many of Christopher's early designs took inspiration from predominantly military clothing and its embedded history, adapting and reconstructing all sorts of disused military fabrics such as Hainsworth wool from Guardsman's tunics, into stylish and contemporary pieces. Whereas 2017 sees Christopher take inspiration from materials more fitting with space and stargazing.

Designed to last

The first Christopher Ræburn jackets to feature Hainsworth wool were actually part of Christopher Ræburn's first ever collection, remaking new pieces from woollen British 'battle dress jackets', made from Hainsworth cloth. Yet when looking for local dead stock (or offcuts/unused) wool for more outerwear designs, Christopher Ræburn was led directly back to the source, Hainsworth's mill in Yorkshire. The Hainsworth mill has been making woollen cloth since 1783 and has been providing dead stock for outerwear, accessories, dresses, trousers and the iconic Christopher Ræburn mascots since 2010.

The Hainsworth mill itself is a great example of how fabric, when designed to last, can be used again and again for many different purposes. The durability and functionality of Hainsworth fabrics also make them desirable for making a huge range of things from snooker tables to blankets and even the inside workings of pianos.

The fabric has changed slightly over the years as it now contains a small amount of nylon which makes the fabric more hard wearing, but it still has that same look as it has since the Battle of Waterloo. The colour of their fabrics do not fade, so the ceremonial uniforms you see could range from 2 to 20 years old, but the colour will remain consistent throughout, making them an ideal material to remake into something new.

The standout wool piece is the women’s Remade Ceremonial Biker Jacket, crafted from deconstructed and reworked original Guardsman's tunics. The natural versatility and adaptability merino wool offers (as well as how beautiful it is to touch and wear) make it one of the most enduring fabrics in the earlier Christopher Ræburn collection. 

LAUNCH: SS17 Remade collection goes cosmic

In SS17, Christopher has uncovered the power of resilient and functional fabrics such as Nomex, Airbrake and Tyvek® to create a cosmic themed collection. 

Dead-stock (or unused) Nomex, a fabric inherently fire and water resistant, has been married with multi-functional elements of hard-wearing space-wear, such as oversized velcro straps, to create unique cosmic themed parka's; industrial white Tyvek® has been remade into functional but stylish lightweight outerwear; and the Remade element of the brand has seen Christopher's iconic Airbrake parachute material re-imagined to form over-dyed shorts, lightweight dresses and paneled skirts.

                                      

Whilst the Remade Ceremonial Biker Jacket or Airbreak Field Jacket may not be in many peoples' price range, it does offer inspiration for emerging new fashion designers to build creativity from the masses of materials out there waiting for an overhaul. In future, Christopher hopes to open up the Remade studio to young people who live nearby so they can gain from the creative hub, exchange ideas and learn about the world of sustainable fashion and the opportunities it offers. In the meantime we can crack out our needles and thread and get creative with clothes we're tired of.

Find out more about Christopher Ræburn and the Remade studio.

Photography and content: thanks to Christopher Raeburn and the Remade studio.