In an era of cheap fast-fashion brands and increasing environmental concerns, fashion designer Christopher Raeburn is a breath of fresh air, offering sustainable clothing choices from the catwalk to your wardrobe.
A silk map anorak, a tote bag made of parachutes and a bucket hat created using only pre-flown kites – these are just a few items from Christopher Raeburn’s collections. They’re all remade, all recycled and most importantly, all gradually transforming the fashion industry’s impact on the environment one piece at a time.
Sustainability has always been a fascination of Christopher’s, having already established his eco-friendly ideas during his studies at London’s Royal College of Art, where he graduated back in 2006. He remembers “even going all the way back to my degree, I worked around the idea called Remade in England. It was about the deconstruction and reuse of original military materials which I made into useful contemporary pieces.”
“The first collection I ever showed at London Fashion Week was just eight garments made from one parachute which I bought very affordably. It’s creativity that’s helped to build my business rather than spending loads of money. There are definitely ways to build businesses through creativity.”
And whilst he still maintains the same outlook when designing menswear, womenswear and accessories collections, he’s certainly come a long way since his student days, with his constantly developing concepts allowing his work to remain relevant in an ever-changing and evolving society.
‘’It’s already been 12 years since I left and I’ve been running my own business for nearly 10 years, which I’ve grown very organically. Our whole business focuses on responsible design, so lots of remaking and recycling.
The very nature of fashion is that it’s always changing. We’ve never been too worried about trends or the way things can shift rapidly. It’s about making sure our clothes are relevant, useful and, where possible, making things that are timeless.”
But, for most of people, living a more sustainable life is easier said than done and only in the last few years have we seen high street shops offer more environmentally-friendly collections, such as H&M’s Concious, Zara’s Join Life and Mango’s Committed Sustainable. Now, more than ever, it’s all too easy to browse the internet and get a whole outfit for under £30 delivered to your doorstep in less than 24 hours.
Unlike a lot of fashion designers, Christopher regularly opens the doors of his REMADE studio in Hackney to the public. As a working environment for his team in the day, the creative space which used to be home to the old Burberry textile factory, hosts workshops, events and even Table Tennis Tuesdays.
Christopher’s innovative, forward-thinking ideas have resulted in him taking on a huge role as Global Ambassador for Graduate Fashion Week this year, joining the likes of Julien McDonald, Holly Fulton and Henry Holland who also support the event. Founded in 1991, the charity organisation celebrates and showcases students and graduates, helping them build contacts, gain experience and get a taste of life after university in the fast-paced, and sometimes intimidating, world of fashion.
“I think it’s a perfect platform for change and one that’s grown steadily over the years. As a result, companies are looking to Graduate Fashion Week every year with a trust of new ideas and sense of excitement. Having the chance to speak about the incredible work the graduates are doing around the world is a real honour and something that I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into.”
This year, Graduate Fashion Week will be taking place from Sunday 3 June to Wednesday 6 June, with a jam-packed schedule of shows featuring some of the finest talents across the country.
With a career built on absorbing knowledge from those around him, alongside a determination to really make a change, Christopher proves that living a more sustainable life doesn’t necessarily mean changing your whole lifestyle, it can just mean reconsidering the smaller decisions we make every single day.
Like the cyclical nature of fashion, where trends inevitably come back around after a few years, before you throw something away it might be worth considering that “as opposed to thinking about one moment of time where once it’s gone, everything around it is redundant”, you could actually reuse it to give it a new lease of life. You never know, this attitude might end up giving you a new lease of life as well.