All things new
All things new

All things new

Heritage looks and refurbished garments are in this season. Call it recession-proofing, call it what you like, but this summer's retro looks are hot.

July 17 th 2009

I remember the day I first encountered dawn, willingly. The slow turning of midnight to charcoal, lavender then cherry red, blood orange and, finally, the blaze of morning's first light: pineapple gold.

God made dawn, with its flurry of colour, to welcome us. I feel the same way about summer.

Right now, from urban mainstay Anthropologie to the handmade clothing of Adhesif, the radish reds and saltwater turquoise of the 1950s, '60s and '70s are spilling onto sunny boardwalks and into the streets once again.

Spring/Summer 2009 at Anthropologie

Old is in. This summer, the used and discarded are making a comeback. Call it recession-proofing, call it what you like, but the second-hand clothing scene is booming.

Whether you are ambling through the historic districts of your city, the aisles of Value Village or simply scouring the Internet, vintage looks abound. To prove it: today, Antwerp, a byword for avant-garde fashion and one of Europe's hottest fashion hubs, is a beacon for the second-hand, and globetrotters aren't balking. Vintage Dries Van Noten tops and sleeveless, peach-coloured John Galliano blouses are hopping and skipping off the shelves in droves.

Closer to home, heritage looks can be found in refurbished garments, or in standby favourites such as the Hbc signature hat. What was once discarded has now become a source of practical comfort and individual expression.

Consider Troy, New York's `e ko logic, where clothing is all recycled, all the time. Their refurbished Bubble Tube Tops and Trixie Vests are particularly breathtaking. `e ko logic's couple team hunts for heritage treasures and dismantles each garment, taking time to recognize its unique character and individual beauty. Then they design a new garment, completing the transformation by joining it with other pieces.

Sounds an awful lot like the kingdom of God, doesn't it? Revelation 21:5 reads: "And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'" It takes a God-given creativity to see promise in something used or neglected.

Heritage designers can't pre-plan or forecast their colour palette. Instead they use what they find—from Canadian Bueno Style's vintage, hand-assembled jewelry; to the repurposed, hand-stitched Edit Bags; and the recycled, hand-rendered fabrics of Adhesif 's Tawleed Bubble Dresses and Betty Blouses. The results make their way clear across North America and, in the case of `e ko logic, as far away as Japan.

The common thread? An ability to see promise in unexpected places.

For Natalie Gerber inspiration lies in old men's ties.

Originally from South Africa, and a graduate of Alberta's College of Art and Design, Gerber creates one-of-a-kind pieces that "encourage the re-use of societies' material excess." Most of her handmade garments and accessories are constructed from salvaged men's suits, ties, and found fabrics.

"My work has a little bit more of a conceptual background to it, but it's wearable and consumer friendly," she says, adding she doesn't like the idea of creating art that no one can wear or use. "This doesn't make any sense to me, because there is so much garbage already, which is also why I make things out of what people discard," she explained in an interview with FFWD magazine some years ago.

Gerber began making small bags out old suits and ties; then the concept expanded into jackets, tunic T-shirts, A-line skirts and clutch purses, each with appliqué designs or floral brooches created out of old ties.

A collection of her jersey cotton tunic t-shirts and tank tops blaze in yellows, greens and muted pinks—colours inspired by an old, beaten-up barn Gerber saw on a trip to Saskatchewan. "The barn had all these crazy colours from the '70s like turquoise, greens and yellows. So when I think of Prairie, I think of this old farm house."

She calls it Prairie Punk; we call it a new creation.

Topics: Culture
Christina Crook
Christina Crook

Christina Crook's book, The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World, has made her leading voice on technology and human flourishing. Through her writing and speaking she reveals how key shifts in our thinking can enable us to draw closer to one another, taking up the good burdens of local work and responsibilities. She writes about the value of focus, making space to create, and the meaning we find in more limited connections. She challenges the Western values of power, control, and success, revealing how wonder, trust, and discipline are central to the experience of being human and the keys to our joy.


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