While springtime–rather than the midst of wintry February–is normally the time when we think of renewal, this month happens to be a great time to reinvent and repurpose. February is the perfect time for renewal of all kinds, whether it be for your love of art and music, in a relationship, or even how to reimagine your closet for a new season. Anyone who has seen the simple beauty of a crocus peek up from the ground knows that February has a lot more to offer than just snowstorms and valentines.
Retailers are getting in the act of repurposing as well, and with great success. In 2013, the mecca of fast fashion itself, H&M, launched a global initiative, Long Live Fashion, to recycle used clothing of all kinds, not just their own label. They have collection boxes in stores at the checkout that will take any brand, any condition and any quality. H&M then sends them to a processing plant where they are hand sorted to either be reworn on a worldwide market, recycled into textile fibers, reused as converted products or as an energy source.
In August 2014, Madewell teamed up with Blue Jeans Go Green™ to turn old denim into housing insulation for the areas that are in most need of help rebuilding after natural disasters. Founded in 2006, Blue Jeans Go Green sends denim to Habitat for Humanity projects around the U.S., where approximately 500 to 1,000 pairs of jeans are needed to create enough insulation for one home. Bring in those old jeans you are no longer wearing and you can be a giver and a receiver. Madewell will give you $20 off a new pair of jeans when you contribute a pair. A sweet deal for all involved.
With the idea of renewal in mind, I have chosen a few favorite pieces that have been reinvented from their original forms into something beautiful and special. Each of these pieces would make a great Valentine’s Day gift, given from the heart with a bigger purpose in mind.
Ponchos and capes made a huge splash last fall, most notably the coveted Burberry blanket poncho. This spring, the poncho returns in lighter fabrics, like this uber cool Urban Renewal recycled woven poncho, which is made from repurposed Chinese batik tapestries. I love the raw edges and the unique print of the vintage fabric, making each Urban Renewal poncho a one-of-a-kind piece. Wear it with a simple white tank or tee and a pair of white denim from my favorite brand, Frame Denim. These Le High Flare in Blanc have just the right vibe that works with the poncho’s boho look and would be so gorgeous with Valentino Rockstud Espadrille Sandals. Elizabeth and James Fisherman Weave Bucket Bag keeps you together in a laidback way. And in keeping with the feeling of love and giving this month, The Giving Keys pendants are a perfect fit. Etched with an inspiring message, the handmade pendants are made through a partnership with the nonprofit organization Chrysalis. The Giving Keys employs individuals who are transitioning out of homelessness, providing opportunities for them to move to permanent housing. The real message behind these beautifully simple pieces: When the time comes, give up your key to someone who needs it more than you do, passing along the message of hope. Beautiful things that do beautiful things. I like it.
Vince’s Rolled Sleeve Cargo Dress caught my eye because it is such a great transition piece into spring. Belt it with the Fossil Perforated Gold Belt, which is a steal at $34.00 and has a metallic sheen that plays off the gorgeous Bridget Pendant by local designer Joanna Morgan. The hot shoe for the warmer months is definitely the gladiator sandal, and this sexy suede Schutz Billa pair is perfectly on point. This cool Sword & Plough wool and leather handbag converts to a clutch when you unbuckle the strap, and is made from repurposed military surplus material. When sisters Betsy and Emily Nunez, who grew up in a military family, founded Sword & Plough in 2012, the pair wanted to make something that touched others every day, both physically and emotionally. By repurposing thousands of pounds of military gear and employing veteran owned and operated companies in production, they have succeeded in reducing waste and strengthening bonds. Sword & Plough gives 10 percent of profits back to veterans’ initiatives, which brings it full circle.
This is a perfect outfit for February 14—or any other night out with your favorite people. The curve hugging skirt and cropped cut-out top by Jonathan Simkhai are both chic and sexy, especially paired with these sassy canvas floral print Stella McCartney heels. I found this recycled leather and brass, handmade fringe bib necklace at the forgedandfoundshop on Etsy and am completely obsessed. M.A.C. Lipstick “Sparks of Romance” seemed a rather fitting pop of color for this hot little number. Last but not least: this beautiful nubuck Anais bag by NYC handbag designer Shannon South. South uses locally-sourced, luxury leather remnants from the furniture industry to make each of her beautiful handbags in her Brooklyn shop. In addition to her namesake handbag company, South also founded RemadeUSA.com, a company that repurposes old leather jackets into custom bags. She began years ago with a cool old leather jacket she found at a Goodwill and recreated it into a beautiful leather handbag. Now the business has transcended into a booming business of remaking customer’s old, outdated or unworn leather jackets, often with sentimental value attached to them, giving them new life as gorgeous handbags.
There are so many talented people that use the methods of repurposing, recycling and reusing materials to create fashion and beauty with meaning, it is nearly impossible to cover them all. You can discover the local designers that create in this manner by inquiring about repurposed goods at your favorite shopping destinations. And keep checking in with us at Vanguard Seattle as we are dedicating our stories during the month of February to reusing, repurposing and recycling. “Great is the art of beginning, but greater is the art of ending.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow