From timeless pieces made in L.A. from dead stock fabric to upcycled military jackets adorned with Japanese silk kimonos, the latest eco-conscious designs offer more than a moral message. They actually look cool too.
Remember the ’90s, when Doc Martens and monochromatic outfits were all the rage? One look at Instagram confirms that those looks are back, and with them, the sentiment behind one of the era’s popular slogans: Reduce, reuse, recycle. Although the phrase originated earlier, recycling became more mainstream in the ’90s, and thankfully has endured over time.
Likewise, the fashion industry has taken more care concerning sustainable practices lately, and unsurprisingly Los Angeles is at the forefront. Focused on 100% transformation and 0% new production, L.A.-based brand Atelier & Repairs (Fairfax District) breathes new live into overstock military jackets, vintage Levi’s, Dockers pants and more by embellishing them with leftover textiles and stitching, and reworking old pieces into new shapes. “After years of launching and growing businesses in the fashion and lifestyle industries, we stumbled upon an opportunity to address the unspoken volume of goods not being sold or being discarded,” says Marisa Ma, who runs the company with her husband, co-founder Maurizio Donadi. “We came to believe that less can indeed be better, with both the environment and society benefiting.” Along with ready-to-wear pieces, which are all made in L.A., the brand offers customization services for customers’ own pieces.
Atelier & Repairs
Another brand that incorporates discarded fabric into its designs is Dame, a direct-to-consumer, family-run operation that creates timeless, streamlined basics for women. “We rescue leftover fabrics from major fashion houses and repurpose them,” says Alexx Jae Monkarsh, creative director and co-founder. Styles are created in limited runs—including recently launched tops designed with artist Kim McCarty—in DTLA and packaging is reusable and recycled.
Partnering with fabric mills that develop sustainable materials and small, local manufacturers that uphold ethical working standards and fair wages is just one of the things heritage brand Allen Schwartz works into its practices. “Last year, as technology continued to improve, we incorporated additional sustainable and recycled materials into our products and packaging,” says creative director and designer Bianca Bernal. “Evolving with the slow fashion movement is a priority to us.” Timeless, beautifully crafted and tailored suits and sleek satin dresses take the focus away from trends and ensure longevity. “Our satin ensemble made from sustainably sourced wood pulp is a standout,” Bernal says. “It doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as the actual garment, but once you have it on, it feels amazing.”
Shopping at luxury resale shops like To Be Continued, which recently opened a new store on Robertson, is inherently eco-conscious. “The foundation on which the brand was built, reselling and reusing well-made and beautifully crafted designer pieces, is a sustainable practice,” says co-founder Chrissy Sayare, who sources pieces from around the world for her store and website. “When you walk into any of our boutiques, we strive to provide a luxury experience that feels worldly and elevated.”
Building on the idea of creating a luxury experience is Entre Nous, which sells high-end vintage clothing and accessories from brands like Gucci, Lanvin and more online and through 1stdibs. Owner Randi Wood also offers rentals, personal shopping and fittings, and helps source hard-to-find items like a vintage pink Chanel bag. “The items I carry are truly meant to last for years to come,” she says. “They are so unique and special, you could never part with them.”
Photography by: courtesy of Allen Schwartz; by Steven Hickey; by Trevor Pikhart; courtesy of Dame