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Designers Talk a Big Sustainability Game on Amazon’s ‘Making the Cut’

Amazon Prime Video began streaming the second season of the “next household name brand” reality series “Making the Cut” Friday, and styles from the first two episodes’ winning designers are already available for sale through the platform’s fashion-focused store.

And in a new move for the Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn-hosted show, taking place this season in Los Angeles, Joshua Scacheri is launching an influencer collaboration capsule Tuesday on Amazon Fashion’s The Drop after besting the nine remaining designers competing on the series’ second episode to ultimately win $1 million to grow their business, an Amazon Fashion mentorship and a chance to sell their work in the Amazon Fashion store.

Australia-born Scacheri was lucky just to hang around long enough for the “Resortwear” challenge. Episode two marked a stunning reversal of fortune for the former footballer and men’s wear designer, who “barely” made the cut, as Klum put it, after a disastrous showing in the “Brand Statement” premiere asking designers to convey to their arbiters what their aesthetic is all about. Judge and supermodel Winnie Harlow panned Scacheri’s model as looking like an “80s clown” in the fuchsia-and-navy fiasco he cooked up. And Moschino creative chief and series judge Jeremy Scott warned of the billowy, ruffle-collared jumpsuit, “If it’s not flattering on the model, good luck to anybody else.” (An accompanying male catwalker modeled an “accessible” look in the same colorway on top with khakis on the bottom.)

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In contrast to Scacheri’s technicolor shortcomings, Gary Graham took home top honors in episode one by converting his passion for history and storytelling into impeccably crafted, throwback looks. The Franklin, N.Y., designer—who moved up to the Catskills to establish his ready-to-wear GaryGraham422 brand upon closing his Manhattan boutique in 2018 after his business routinely came up a “couple hundred thousand dollars short”—combined unusual textiles into smartly tailored women’s wear that pulled on the past while nodding to the new.

After sourcing an upholstery fabric bearing the “earliest documented ingrain pattern in America” from around the 1830s, as his contact claimed, the 2009 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist was dashing off to find a complementary textile at a Grand Gorge, N.Y., military surplus store when he was inspired by a cemetery gravestone for a woman who died in 1846.

Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn return to host season two of "Making the Cut" on Amazon Prime Video.
Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn Courtesy

Graham later told the judges that the resulting runway and accessible looks—which upcycled an “old army blanket” along with the tapestry commonly used in rugs into feminine clothes with an Old World feel—told a “story of redemption” for the 19-year-old Amanda who died far too young, according to her grave marker, but was now “brought back to life” through fashion.

Scott praised Graham’s designs for having the “same voice” across both looks, while Harlow was even more impressed. “I think your brain is magic,” she said of the designer, who is fond of engineered jacquards and has been carried by Barneys New York and Dover Street Market. His accessible look, a 40s-inspired cotton frock in faded army green and royal blue, is available now in a size inclusive range of XXS-3X for $79.90 in the “Making the Cut” Amazon Fashion storefront.

Graham seemed to emerge as the designer to beat after the inaugural episode, in which South Orange, N.J.’s Lendrell Martin went home after coming up short, though Brooklyn’s Andrea Pitter showed an eggshell, feather-bedecked look inspired by her bridal expertise that would not look out of place on Kendall Jenner. In episode two, Pitter, who runs the Pantora business designing for brides-to-be, similarly gave Scacheri a run for his money, stitching together a slinky, body-hugging dress and a plus-size swimsuit, in her own matching prints, that more than made up for her fit foibles in the first installment, the judges raved.

“What really truly impressed me is something that a lot of designers can’t do,” guest judge Prabal Gurung, the Singapore-born, Nepalese designer who is based and manufactures in New York City, told Pitter. “You are able to celebrate women of different sizes and make them look equally beautiful. When the curvy model in the swimsuit came out, and she felt that confident—what struck me is you really see them. You don’t consider them as just models, you consider them as human beings.”

Andrea Pitter won high praise for impeccably made plus-size swimsuit on the second episode of the second season of "Making the Cut" on Amazon Prime Video.
Andrea Pitter won high praise of her impeccably fitting plus-size swimsuit. Courtesy

Designers are really just storytellers, he added, and “storytellers are healers.” “Today, with your looks, you healed a lot of people,” Gurung said. Gunn, meanwhile, noted designers’ continuing “resistance” to working with forms larger than the industry standard, though he believes “everybody has to get on board,” especially if America is home to the largest sizes of all the 200-odd countries where American Fashion sells, he told Sourcing Journal.

Despite Pitter’s compelling turn, Scacheri’s designs ultimately prevailed in the runway competition that Gunn described to Sourcing Journal as his “all-time favorite,” which sent the models down a catwalk filled with water. “It was just so other-worldly and surreal,” the former Parsons dean added. L.A.’s Ally Ferguson, Andrea Salazar of Colombia, Parisian designer Lucie Brochard, Olivia Oblanc, and Polish native Raf Swiader moved on to the third challenge after Jaipur’s Dushyant Asthana, known for his print work, fell short with a snoozy resort showing.

Now based in London, Scacheri got the edge after a panel of influencers sourced from The Drop’s cabal of social media personalities voted on photographs contestants took to reflect how their garments and creative visions would stand out, or not, on platforms like Instagram—underscoring the current reality that fashion is often discovered outside of a brand’s four walls.

Makeda, whose @glamazondiaries Instagram boasts more than 40,000 followers, was part of the influencers picked to review the designers’ social-specific photos. Scacheri’s vibrantly colored cruise collection “would definitely stop me in my tracks while I’m scrolling,” she said during the episode.

Tim Gunn said the resortwear runway show, which sent models over a watery catwalk, was his "all-time favorite."
Tim Gunn said the resortwear runway show, which sent models over a watery catwalk, was his “all-time favorite.” Courtesy

Suede Brooks, who posts fashion and lifestyle content for the 1.3 million fans following her eponymous Instagram account, said Scacheri “did an amazing job” shooting his dual-gender resort looks against a mirror wall.

Scacheri himself admitted that his second challenge attempt took the judges’ first-episode feedback to heart. “After what happened last week [and] the feedback you guys gave me, I really wanted to show you my true DNA,” he told the panel.

The men’s suit, envisioned as the “runway” half of the pairing, offered his signature “tailoring and the essence of surprise” with a sheer, skin-revealing panel on the back on the royal blue jacket, he said, while his three-piece women’s “accessible” look tried to “make an impact in the color palette” of eggplant, aquamarine, and cerulean in the kimono, which was punched up by airy chartreuse pants. A sheer tank completed the look, which drew inspiration from the rocks, sand and telephone lines Scacheri observed at a SoCal beach. As the winning look, Scacheri’s size-inclusive outfit is available for sale in the Amazon Fashion ‘Making the Cut’ store, with prices ranging from $29.90 to $64.90.

“I think it’s really important that we live cohesively with the world,” Scacheri said, noting that his newly launched Love Hero brand reflects his “[passion] for sustainability.”

That the Aussie even brought up the term “sustainability” is “so crucial,” Gurung said, “especially in today’s world” and rampant overconsumption.

Gunn echoed sustainability’s rising importance—and influence—across the industry. “It’s definitely true that more young designers are concerned with our environment and are looking to sustainable sources for their work,” he told Sourcing Journal, adding it’s “something we all celebrate.”

Regular judges Jeremy Scott and Winnie Harlow, along with Prabal Gurung appearing in a guest role, watching Gary Graham's resortwear looks come down the water-filled catwalk in episode two of "Making the Cut" on Amazon Prime Video.
Regular judges Jeremy Scott and Winnie Harlow, along with Prabal Gurung appearing in a guest role, watch designer Gary Graham’s resortwear looks come down the water-filled runway in episode two. Courtesy

But as much as designers are pivoting to create with the planet in mind from the get-go, “where I see a need for advocacy is with the consumer,” Gunn added. “I think people are just so under-informed about the things they buy—fashion or anything—and what these things potentially do to our environment.”

Supporting brands that strive to operate sustainably is “critically important,” Gunn said.

Scacheri, in fact, touted the sustainability angle of the line he conceived in tandem with Brooks, who served as his “muse” and modeled each of the six styles launching on The Drop on July 20.

Manufacturing products only when a customer purchases inherently crimps the overproduction that’s long plagued fashion, even as fabrications like polyester, featured in his episode-two garment, still rely on planet-polluting fossil fuels.

In a statement, the designer said southern Nevada’s Valley of Fire, Brooks’ “lively nature,” and Love Hero’s “vibrant planet-driven ethos” inspired the “sustainable and uplifting collection.”

“The relaxed and tailored styles breathe mood-boosting colors with a summer feel that can be easily styled in a casual and modern way,” Scacheri added.

Though Amazon Fashion tapped season-one victor Jonny Cota for a line with The Drop after winning the $1 million prize, giving a ‘Making the Cut’ designer this kind of exclusive opportunity while the show is still in season seems to signal a new strategy to raise the influencer-led platform’s profile and further stimulate the commerce side of what otherwise is broadly a content play.