In the few months since my last post the world has changed in ways no one could have imagined. The excitement of stepping into 2020s has died down amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, and it would seem that the promise of a new sustainable fashion decade has all but disappeared. In the meantime, independent sustainable fashion designers are more than ever fighting for survival, while doing their bit in the fight against the coronavirus.
Anna Poletti is a fashion start-up based in Belluno, in the Dolomites near Venice. The artist, who has collaborated with big luxury names such as Marni, creates unique handmade pieces of wearable art, from collected scrapped materials sourced locally: silk, linen and wool.
In response to my question on how she is coping in one of the worst-hit regions by the pandemic, Anna and her business partner Alberto write: “We have few suppliers and fewer clients… Unfortunately the COVID situation is giving strength to our ethics, centred on the relationship between humans and nature, often forgotten before by the fashion industry.”
Furthermore, Anna has put her own twist on the oft-debated issue of PPE, creating bespoke face masks that she is offering to donate for charitable fund-raising purposes.
Another fashion designer who has mastered upcycling is Paris-based Les Récupérables, which creates whimsical playsuits and kimono-meets-bolero jackets from luxury fabric cut-offs. In response to the pandemic, brand founder Anaïs Tori has created an online tutorial on how to make your own reusable mask.
Finally, Greek entrepreneur Chryssina Mar, who has been selling her home and nursery décor items, such as lavender pillows and make-up bags, via her Homesite e-shop on Etsy, has also switched production to meet the growing demand for face coverings during the pandemic.
Featured in Vogue as ‘one of the most stylish face masks to shop for now’, Chryssina describes them as “an eco-friendly way to be colorfully eclectic through these strange days we are going through.” I look forward to donning mine as the weeks-long lockdown measures here in Europe are beginning to ease.
There is no doubt sustainable designers are facing a long, hard road to recovery, and that they will need our support more than ever before. However, perhaps what will emerge in the wake of this pandemic is a more caring and thoughtful relationship with fashion—one that will bring the maker and the consumer closer together again, albeit with social distancing in place.