Christopher Raeburn has much to be proud of at his London fashion week 10th anniversary show. The world can expect to see Christopher Raeburn’s 10th Anniversary Show at London Fashion Week Men’s on Sunday. It will not only feature a collection of clothing, but also – as the designer says – a “Manifesto for Change”.
The Royal College of Art graduate, has been to menswear what Stella McCartney was to womenswear in the ten years since he launched his fashion label. He is a leading advocate for sustainability and ethically sourced fashion. His brand’s “remade. reduced. recycled” philosophy permeates all that comes out his Hackney Central design studio. It has been since the beginning.
His designs are made from used fabrics, including military surplus and kites. They have taken on a streetwear-inspired utilitarian look. He now wants to “push the envelope” and see what he can do.
Raeburn says, “It’s our chance to say, “hey, that was an amazing first chapter for our business and now, we’re building upon our learnings from the past 10 years.” Raeburn’s team has been “mulching and shredding insulation from off-cuts of material that are being made at our east London atelier, and then making them into puffa jackets for today’s collection.”
It’s never been a better moment to lead the charge. Last year the United Nations launched a fashion industry charter for climate action and the Commons environmental audit committee announced it was investigating the sustainability of the fashion industry. After the shocking revelation of having lost PS28.6m in stock in 2017, Burberry promised to use, repair and recycle its products.
Raeburn, 36, has been driving fashion in responsible directions since his discovery by Susanne TideFrater in 2009. Raeburn was chosen by the British Fashion Council as her mentor to help develop an eco-friendly brand. He had a “radically different vision” than what was considered recycled.
Tide-Frater is currently the board director at Browns Fashion. “In fact, he is a creative entrepreneur and not a fashion designer who predicts or chases the next trend. He was just beginning a personal journey that has at times been difficult.”
Sustainable design faces many challenges. One of these is dispelling the doubts surrounding the “homespun aesthetic.” Raeburn believes that responsible infrastructure and covetable design are not necessarily incompatible. This is a major reason for his success.
He says, “I have always approached my business with a design-led approach first.” “As a company, we have an obligation to ensure that good design is embedded with thoughtful choices about the material, the manufacturer, the place of manufacture, and the consequences for the item. Once you have checked those boxes, it is unquestionable that the item can be recycled or reused completely.”
The other challenge is to keep your creative vision alive while staying financially sound. Tide-Frater says Christopher was able to finance himself and was able to expand and take on large investments where other designers were doing so.
Collaborative efforts with brands such as Umbro, Eastpak and Timberland, where he is now the global creative director, must be mutually profitable. They also help to push the brand’s message into mainstream. A spokesperson for Timberland USA stated that it would have been a mistake to not connect with him. He cares deeply about the overall’making things better’ concept, which motivates Timberland’s environment, design, and products.
In 2016, Raeburn was recognized as a breakthrough designer at the GQ Men of the Year Awards. The demand for his designs is growing rapidly. His recent pop-up in London’s new Coal Drops Yard development proved so successful that he is hoping to open a larger permanent space there in the spring, while the #buynothing campaign he launched on Black Friday “as a challenge to the industry” went viral.
Raeburn refused to sell any product that day, stating that “with this race to bottom of selling products for increasingly discounted rates, it’s necessary to really question where that’s leading.”
“It’s really important for designers like Christopher to make a stand against over-consumption and to lead the way for a more responsible fashion industry,” says Tamsin Blanchard, who works closely with the not-for-profit reform movement .Fashion Revolution. “By closing his online store for Black Friday, it was a way for him protest against the insidious culture of constantly telling us to buy more, get cheaper, and buy it now.”
Tide-Frater, a decade later, predicts a happy birthday to the designer. Tide-Frater says, “His time may finally have come. I strongly believe that only authentic designers, personalities and people like Christopher can give credibility and weight to the topic sustainability. This must be our top priority.”