18 February 2009

Good Bye Fast Fashion, Hello Gary Harvey

This is an interesting article i read in NU Magazine about designer Gary Harvery and his recycled fashion.

Words by Nina Rennie from NU Magazine

His name was being whispered at LA fashion week. His iconic dresses have caused a stir wherever they’ve appeared. Now everyone wants a piece of him and his ‘recycled couture’…
Gary has created a collection of stunning vintage-inspired dresses, using recycled iconic garments. It started with 42 pairs of Levi’s 501s which were transformed into a breath-taking denim formation and now includes: a body-contouring dress made out of ‘last season’ baseball jackets; a chic ‘reclaimed’ bridal gown, made-up of 10 abandoned wedding dresses; and a checked corset dress using 18 Burberry macs, amongst other wonderfully thought-provoking creations. Nu wanted to know more about the pioneering Eco-Designer...
Nina Rennie (NR): After 10 years as Creative Director at Levi's and Dockers Europe, you started creating 'recycled couture' with iconic products out of ‘creative frustration’. Was it also out of frustration towards the wasteful nature of the industry?
Hary Harvey (GH): I was finding it hard to find a real sense of craftsmanship and true design in the market; clothing from designer level to high street had become a mass produced, disposable and homogenised ‘in’ look. The consumer culture was moving so fast, respect for the 'Artform' of design had been lost. I wanted to challenge the disposable nature of current design thinking and the waste involved in replacing your wardrobe every six months.
NR: Was it more about re-contextualising iconic, everyday garments to create dramatic new silhouettes and the environmental ben

efits were a bonus, or were you always very focused on the eco aspect?
GH: My primary goal has always been to create beautiful images and clothing, the 'environmental awareness' aspect is a secondary benefit that happens to be very important to me. The label of 'Pioneering eco designer' was not my initial goal but a very nice result.
NR: Was there a sudden epiphany that led you to become a ‘recycled couture’ designer?
GH: I wanted to create something for me. I had spent the last 20 years designing commercial clothing for major fashion brands and felt it was time for a change, a return to the reason I got into design in the first place.
NR: Are there any new ethical labels that you love?
GH: I love any designer that goes out there to say something positive. Clothing is a visual language that speaks volumes. As a designer you have a voice and should use it to say something of worth.
NR: What's your favourite creation and why?
GH: The Newspaper Dress is one of my all time favourites. It’s so simple yet surprises so many people. The unusual colour, the fabric textures, the extreme silhouette, and the way it moves when worn is amazing.
NR: Is there anyone in particular that has inspired you?
GH: From a design perspective I am inspired by concepts that have an intelligence and craftsmanship that back up the design of the clothing. The couturiers from the 1940s & 50s and John Galliano & Vivienne Westwood have all created looks that are truly awe inspiring.
NR: Who would you most like to create a red-carpet outfit for?
GH: Amy Winehouse, Juliet Lewis, Beth Ditto, Omayra, Erin O'Connor.
NR: You're now gaining global recognition and praise from the likes of Vogue for your 'recycled couture' - What are your goals for the future? Any super-cool projects in the pipeline you can share with us?
GH: I am working on a stylish ecologically sound jeans brand while continuing to create my 'eco couture' pieces.
NR: How do you see the future of fashion?
GH: We cannot afford to ignore the environmental impact of our decision making. Consumers are becoming more aware of the ethical issues within the fashion industry. Due to social awareness and mounting pressure every industry is currently looking at its environmental and social impact. Ethical behaviour in fashion will eventually follow.
NR: Obviously the impact of the conventional fashion industry on the environment is immense and devastating, and people are becoming more aware of this. What legislation would you bring in if you were in charge?!
GH: An internationally recognised enforcement of living/fair wages per country. Prosecution and very heavy fines for brands and designers that sell garments (knowingly or unknowingly) made using underpaid workers, unsustainable natural resources, or that pollute the environment in any way.
NR: What needs to be done to ensure that ethical fashion becomes the norm and isn't dismissed as another trend?
GH: Continued education and awareness of the misery and exploitation involved in un-ethical fashion.
NR: What advice would you give to fashion-loving consumers?
GH: Get informed, ask your own questions and think about your decisions responsibly.
We can all contribute to an ethical fashion revolution. Too many garments are simply thrown away at the end of each season, when they could be turned into something beautiful and worn for many years.
NR: What's your fashion philosophy?
GH: Enjoy it, and don’t take it too seriously - it's a good laugh.
Gary is now taking private commissions for his stunning socially conscious bespoke designs. Every garment he creates is completely unique.
“We can all contribute to an ethical fashion revolution.”

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