Is wearable horticulture the new wearable art?
LVMH-owned Loewe presented an ultra-literal example of green fashion at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. The brand’s creative director Jonathan Anderson collaborated with Spanish bio-designer Paula Ulargui Escalona to grow plants on coats, jeans, sweatshirts, sweatpants and sneakers.
Described by the luxury label as a collection that fuses “the organic and the fabricated,” the idea for the conceptual garments is that over time the pieces merge with nature.
In an interview with Vogue, Ulargui Escalona said she and Anderson spent four months testing different garments and accessories until they landed on the best combination. She would grow the plants in Spain and send them to Paris for inspection. They ultimately decided on chia plants and catswort and spent 20 days researching the desired level of growth in a specially constructed polytunnel on the outskirts of Paris. The plants required regular watering and maintenance to ensure their runway-ready appearance.
Ulargui Escalona began to develop her growing technique as a student at Istituto Europeo di Design in Madrid. Her research involved studying seeds that could be grown on textiles and their needs for light, temperature, and water in their life cycle, and selecting compatible fabrics and weaves.
Other pieces in Loewe’s S/S ’23 collection were made with padded nappa leather and ozone-treated cotton that made the garments look as though they’d been buried underground. Shapes were reduced to their “archetypal crudeness” and then inflated, shrunken or sliced.
Though Loewe’s plant-adorned garments will not be commercially available, the collaboration underscores the fashion house’s efforts to work with likeminded suppliers who are environmentally and socially conscious. Loewe’s strategy is to incorporate sustainability as a source of new opportunities that add more value to its products, while becoming more efficient at using resources.
In 2021, Loewe introduced the “The Surplus Project,” which upcycles surplus leather into new woven basket bags. Its permanent men’s Eye/Loewe/Nature collection crafts pieces from materials and items with a previous life. Jackets are made from vintage Mexican carpets, quilts and parachutes, and a new line of roll-top backpacks and camera bags is made from recycled nylon.