In 2017, it’s cool to care. Sustainable fashion keeps marching to the forefront, with design houses and brands constantly rethinking traditional design methods to minimise the industry’s environmental impact. The movement is still in its infancy, and anyone with a fresh approach and new ideas is hailed as a pioneer in a mobilisation that gains traction every day. And for good reason: the planet needs our help.
But while sustainable fashion is an idea everyone can get behind, the responses vary along with your priorities. It’s a question of emphasis. There are those who strive to dress ethically and still look good, and then there are those who want to look good and still dress ethically.
Terms such as “ecoconscious clothing” tend to conjure up images of homespun fabrics in wholesome hues and garments that are more hippie than haute couture.
As with wearable tech (which so far has been a lot more about technology, with aesthetics an also-ran), the sustainable fashion that the environment needs doesn’t seem to always measure up to consumer needs.
Enter Vintage Zionist, a Joburg-based label that does pure rock’n’roll with a conscience. We’re talking all-black everything, and reworked leather like you’ve never seen before. Think dungarees, dresses, jackets, pants and waistcoats, all in unisex shapes and silhouettes; all screaming their rebel power. Grungy favourites like beanies, creepers, elongated sleeves, slogan shirts and backpacks all complete creative director Oscar Ncube’s vision.
Ncube works alongside his business partner, Mandy Newman, to create what they call “the rebirth of apparel”. At the core of their brand is leather, specifically vintage leather they bring in from Europe. Someone’s once-loved leather jacket or 80s trophy trousers are taken apart, reworked, revamped and reassembled as a trend-focused yet timeless piece that aligns with the Vintage Zionist vision.
Their key objectives? “To usher in a new era in the vintage clothing retail market – one that aspires to design – and to produce leather products without adding to the demand for more animal skin in the name of fashion.”
It’s a progressive way to approach vintage fashion and recycling, and, best of all, the clothes are hot. Really hot. At their show at SA Fashion Week earlier this year, the excitement was palpable, with everyone from the crowd to the models stamping their feet in a frenzy of fun, fashion and futuristic thinking.
Let’s take a moment to dissect the pieces. With rock’n’roll at their core, the partners are tapping into an aesthetic that, thanks to the likes of Vivienne Westwood, can always be counted on for a comeback.
Want to add some tough-chic attitude without looking like a groupie? Invest in an iconic Vintage Zionist piece – the leather jacket, which they have mastered to perfection.
Throw it on over your favourite dress, some cigarette pants, or even with a ladylike pencil skirt to instantly add a streak of rebellion to any look.
Whatever your style preference, doing good for the planet has never looked this great.