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by Imogen Green

A new era: Meet the trailblazing designer bringing deadstock and vintage to the catwalk

Is the fashion industry on the brink of a new era? 

The designer Conner Ives may just be the changemaker to start an unprecedented shift.

Meet Conner Ives, a graduate of London’s Central St Martins, who made waves at the most recent London Fashion Week by using only deadstock materials and vintage pieces for his debut show. Ives chose his university after he saw the legacy of Alexander McQueen and how it was pivotal for his career.

He made an early connection with Rihanna after she found him on Instagram and had him signed up to her LMVH project which launched in May of this year.

With an ever-increasing list of notable clients, Ives pieces started to gain esteemed followers during his first few years at university.

In his first London Fashion Week (LFW) show, Ives brought a fresh take to the season.  His collection used only deadstock and vintage to make dresses, suits, skirts and more. The show was an abundance of colour, fun and nods to the Y2K era, letting each garment speak for itself. The use of colour and individuality in each look, with the mix of the deadstock and vintage materials, brought fun and frivolity usually masked in more serious couture shows.

His show brought a very important message to light, why have others not adopted using deadstock and vintage pieces? One of the main drawbacks often cited by designers is the cost and time it takes the right vintage pieces. But surely the reduced impact on the environment makes this process worth it? 

The fashion industry has long wrestled with its relationship with sustainability and the environment. But, we have yet to see  a show make such an impact as Ives did.

Sustainable fashion and industry expert Gaia (@ssustainably_ expressed) expressed her admiration for this approach to fashion.  ‘I’m a huge fan of designers implementing the circular economy in their work, reusing old fabrics, giving a new life to existing resources is essential to reduce the well-known impacts of the fashion industry. Coupled with a reduction in the quantity produced, these practices have a huge potential to drive change in the industry. Prioritising quality and craftsmanship should become the norm in the industry, and using vintage pieces allows us to do that whilst retaining originality and uniqueness.’

Fellow sustainable fashion expert Izzy Manuel (@izzy_manuel) echoed these sentiments. “92 million tonnes of textile waste is produced each year, often where fabrics are discarded or not used in production. The fashion industry should find ways to make deadstock and these vintage fabrics more accessible to small designers to help curb textile waste which often end up in landfills or get incinerated. It’s also super important to remember that things like old bedding and curtains can be used to create garments on small scales and the stigma around using these fabrics I hope will decrease in the next few years.” 

Ives’s collection is evidence that we are at a turning point in the fashion industry. While consumers are looking at their usage and consumption, so are the large couture houses. Ultimately, it wouldn’t be without designers such as Ives and others that are creating this change from the ground up.