Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Christine de Leon

GET UPDATES FROM Christine de Leon
 

Ethical Fashion: Christopher Raeburn for Victorinox

Posted: 14/09/11 01:00

Horrible, foul London rain. Today would be the perfect day to wear a waterproof number from Christopher Raeburn's capsule collection for Victorinox entitled REMADE IN SWITZERLAND. I personally like the orange "kagoul" (that's rain jacket to our North American friends and family).

So, exactly how did this young designer only five years out of art school, get commissioned by Swiss Army Knife originators Victorinox to make a one-off collection? Well, Victorinox were so enamoured by Raeburn's approach to creating his own fashion-led, urban designs out of decommissioned military garments and textiles that they invited him to Switzerland to do his thing. Raeburn used local military surplus stores for ideas.

By taking apart the existing garments he found at the surplus stores, he re-imagining unexpected uses for the old garmets and challenged the concept of what is considered 'new'. A rare find was a box of horseshoe nails that became the symbol of the project for Ræburn. He challenged Victorinox to recast that nail into scales for an Original Swiss Army Knife to complement the project. The nail also inspired a print used for linings and other graphic treatments.

Ræburn and the Victorinox team set up an atelier for the production of the capsule collection at house where the founder of Victorinox, Karl Elsener lived. They sourced used sewing machines to furnish the atelier and invited local tailors and apprentices to help realise the final REMADE IN SWITZERLAND products.

I can totally see these on the likes of Wretch 32 (who? you ask -do yourself a favour and google the man) and most certainly Bjork (who? you ask - do yourself a favour and raid your mother's CD collection). Why? Because the pieces are slick, expertly tailored and really cool. They are a refreshing departure from generic military jacket look we saw so much of in 2010. Plus there are pieces that women look hot in too. I'm all about the equality of the sexes when it comes to these things.

These are limited edition pieces only one hundred of each style (a total of eight) has been made and according to Raeburn, they are built to last "The resulting garments constructed from re-appropriated Swiss military fabrics are a celebration of craft and a reaction to fast fashion" says Raeburn.

Menswear is sorely underrepresented on the ethical/sustainable fashion circuit so this unique selling point does separate Raeburn from many of his contemporaries. As military expenditure scales back in the coming week/months/years, there will be more surplus stock and finding a use for them to keep them out of the landfills would by a very good thing indeed.

However, what would be truly amazing is the introduction to repurposed material to the mass market. By this I mean upcycled coats and jackets made by local garment workers on sale at Primark or Forever 21 for that matter.

For just a moment, a brief fleeting moment, I can imagine a world where my clothes aren't made by seven-year-old Vietnamese children and that perfectly good textile isn't taking up crucial space in a landfill.

 

Follow Christine de Leon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VeryNiceThreads