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RWM a la mode

The reclaimed fashion catwalk show proved to be one of the most popular events among exhibitors and visitors alike at RWM this year.

Floaty florals, retro swimming costumes, and bold silhouettes were on the bill to show that unwanted clothing can have have a second life as a brand new high-fashion garment.  It emphasised the UK’s throwaway attitude to fashion, while proving that clothes made from reclaimed textiles can be just as desirable as brand new garments. 

Textile recyclers BCR Global Textiles, Chris Carey’s Collections, the Salvation Army Trading Company and I&G Cohen sponsored the event and provided the material for their chosen designer to make the unique garments from.

It was the exhibition’s newest and liveliest addition for RWM 2010, attracting an audience which included people from all different walks in the industry, as a bit of light relief from the serious business on the floor.

BCR Global Textiles opened the show using designs from managing director Maxine Sault’s sister Nicola Sault. Nicola owns her own vintage and upcycled fashion business in Australia called Grandma Takes a Trip. The collection included 1940s inspired floral patterns and polka dots, which enhanced the feminine silhouette, making the models look almost doll-like. A coat and shift dress combination made from the same material illustrated the creativity of the designer, who had turned the material for the dress inside out, to contrast with the coat. Nicola believes the catwalk ‘made’ the RWM show this year. She says: “RWM could be seen by some as not being a very entertaining show, so the catwalk has given it the boost it needed. We hope that if it happens again next year we can raise the profile of it even more.”

Tracey Cliffe was chosen by I&G Cohen to present her 80s-inspired designs down the catwalk. Bright colours contrasted with black clearly demonstratd the different materials used to structure and pattern the dresses. Others showed floral pinks mixed with blocks of colour in an intricate structuring of panel after panel of different fabrics. Cliffe uses unwanted t-shirts which have a stretchy element to them to create her jersey dress designs.

Women with attitude was abound in Tanique Coburn’s urban range made from Chris Carey’s Collections’ recovered textiles. Over-sized ruffles and exaggerated shoulders were a key look to the collection which saw the models confidently strut down the catwalk. The prom dresses and a-line skirts would not have looked out of place at London Fashion week, while embellished jackets made from a suit jackets or pieces of leather lovingly stitched together combined with skin-tight leggings showed off the designer’s skill.

The Salvation Army Trading Company used designer Emmeline Child, dresses from who the textile collector chose to decorate its stand  at last year’s RWM. This year, Child’s designs flirted with fitted shift dresses and smart high-waist skirts. But the real treat was seeing the floor-length patchwork coats which were masterpieces by themselves made from squares and squares of different leathers, with a beautiful faux-fur collar. It was obvious these garments were pain-stakingly created to make them completely unique. Salvation Army Trading Company national recycling co-ordinator Paul Ozanne says: “The catwalk showed the audience that what they might see as unusable clothing can actually make highly desirable garments. We want to see more people using second-hand clothes in this way.”

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