Image courtesty Christopher Rarburn/Raeburn Design
We don't like to admit it, but design talent is not always at the forefront of our enthusiasm for ethical fashion. We are often excited by the materials, the concept, or the manufacturing process, but it is rare that we get all these goodies in one brand.
Excitingly this Royal College of Art graduate has broken the mold and managed to tie all these key elements together; creating one of the most promising ethical fashion brands we have ever seen. His jackets for men and women are "re-made in England" from re-appropriated military stock, including parachute fabric, wool capes and camouflage textile. He re-cuts the material into beautifully detailed edgy designs that get noticed first for their distinct style rather than for their sustainable content or ethical production. Just how it should be, we say.
So how did Christopher Raeburn become a Change Maker?
How did you get into this line of work?
I started working with re-appropriated military fabric when I was doing my BA degree at Middlesex University; I had always had a fascination for military fabrics and their functional qualities. The inherent thing with the military is that they have to overproduce to ensure that there is enough kit for every eventuality, the upshot of this is that an incredible amount of stock is barely used. When I got to the Royal College of Art for my Masters Degree I continued experimenting with different upcycled garments and then concentrated on honing some of the techniques I had learned for my final collection. When I left college I was keen to set up a studio as quickly as possible and everything has grown from that point. We have worked with parachutes, wool battledress jackets, fire trousers, ponchos, tents…the list goes on.
Who is your green hero?
I was at the Observer ethical awards last week and listened to a very humbling speech from Sir David Attenborough. I would have to agree with the general consensus of the night, that few people have done more to raise awareness of environmental issues that this man; over fifty years documenting a disappearing world. It's truly commendable in my eyes.
What is your ultimate green goal?
Making my business work through unique, innovative garments proudly re-made in England.
What is your motivation?
As we produce all our garments in-house, my main motivation has been building a team who can help facilitate the work that I do. As a studio we also produce samples and small production runs for other London based designers. Ultimately I want to promote and encourage skilled labor and craft in the UK.
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
I think it's so important that we all do our bit to minimize our ecological impact. Our studio is next to the new Olympics site and it?s been encouraging to hear of all the measures put in place to minimize the environmental damage done to the area. Up-scaling these endeavors to the whole country should be the Government's next agenda.
What is the most rewarding?
It's still rare, but I have to say seeing people I don't know wearing my clothes has to be the most rewarding part of my job.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
I have been fortunate to work with some incredibly passionate individuals and companies. I have recently collaborated with Menswear designer Tim Soar. His professionalism and love of craft impressed me greatly. On a different tack I have been working with Worn Again, a company who have helped pioneer upcycling in the UK, and their enthusiasm and problem solving ability has been unquestionable; it's a great asset to have.
What green thing do you do everyday?
Cycling is a giant part of my life and I do everything I can to ride whenever I can.
What do you wish you could do?
Ha, that's a good question! I hope that, rather than wishing for things, I am getting on with making things happen. I am currently working on sustainable packaging for our online shop; it's another part of the puzzle that I really want to put in place.
What is your biggest eco-sin?
I try to keep them to a minimum, but I think I probably hoard a bit more than I need to; everything from fabric, 1980s toy robots, broken cameras and vinyl I haven't played for years…
What is your best green advice?
The devil is in the detail.
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