It’s fun to say something is “trash.”
It’s less fun—in fact, it’s awful—to see trash, especially in the wild, or where people and animals try to live.
As London natives and “Young Millennials,” the two British designers have grown up with climate change, landfills, and the human cost of disposable clothes. They also know about investment pieces, quality fabrics, and how to look insanely cool. (Ta worked at Yeezy and The Row; Bovan is a Katie Grand protégé who interned for Marc Jacobs.)
Friday night in London, the two designers showed different—but equally possible—ways to fix the broken cycle of buy-toss-repeat.
At Bovan, it was batty and beautiful—but, really batty. There were football pads repurposed for puffed shoulders, a sweater turned upside-down and slashed to make a bodice, and old furs stitched into new shapes and trims. Bovan used archival fabric from Liberty London in his signature hoop skirts, but also in Edwardian blouses that—with a pair of jeans and heels—could upend Batsheva’s reign on Green Gables Chic.™ (Okay, I just made that up, but you know exactly what I mean…)
Bovan’s mother, Plum, made jewelry from old bannisters and frayed USB cords. Then there were Coach’s old canvas monogram logos, stretched into turbans, top hats, and even a bellman’s cap. Everything was repurposed; every look seemed totally new.
A Sai Ta took a similar stand, tearing up fabrics last seen in grandpa closets worldwide—Scrooge McDuck plaids, brown herringbone wool, polyester pajamas—and reworking them into bias-cut dresses, tweed-on-tweed reversible jackets, and patchwork leather pants the color and beat-up texture of car seats.
Name-checking German documentary photographer August Sander and John + Yoko’s “Bed-In” as references, Ta also made a duvet coat out of what looked like an actual duvet. Yes, Margiela did it first (in 1999) but those braving below-zero temperatures in much of America this month deserve the latest update—and this one has a cinched waist.
Will these two young innovators convince fashion to keep up-cycling? Will Liberty-print bustles and turmeric-dyed turtlenecks be the vintage scores of 2050? It’s too soon to tell—but with closed-loop couture like Bovan’s and Ta’s, there’s a tiny bit more hope we’ll make it to 2050 at all.