Series 2. Eco Icon No.5

Gary Harvey’s recycled couture collection

Newspaper dress, made from 30 copies of the ‘Financial Times’

Gary Harvey’s first collection was launched at Esthetica  at the London fashion Week in 2007. For his first collection he showcased nine of his stunning dresses designed   to change people’s perception of second-hand clothing and create fashion with a conscience. Today, two year’s on- Gary’s newspaper dress made from discarded copies of the FT has an enhanced symbolism showing that new life with a new message can be formed from the remains of a financial meltdown….a heralding of ‘new financial times’….

Gary uses material he finds in places like secondhand clothing stores to avoid waste, he says of good quality second hand clothing, people “wear it one or two times then discard it because it’s suddenly deemed aesthetically unimportant and out of date when there’s years of life left in the garment.” His collection “was a comment about thinking about the real cost of the garment that you buy, about that cost being natural resources, exploitation of labour, the biodegradable nature of garments.”

Denim Dress, made from 41 pairs of Levi 501’s.

Jeans were the  original pioneer of  utility clothing ,made to be a long lasting workmen’s uniform.  Now they form the cornerstone of every wardrobe and have become a fashion uniform rather than a working uniform and are re-styled to be on trend every season usually discarded long before their use is over. Other dresses are made from discarded wedding dresses, laundry bags and t-shirts. All of which have an accompanying statement about why that item of clothing was chosen.

Gary Harvey, who for nearly ten years was the Creative Director of Levi Strauss and Dockers Europe, began designing his dresses out of creative frustration during his freelance work on fashion campaigns. “I needed some really dramatic pieces for a shoot I was working on and the first design evolved using 42 pairs of Levi’s 501’s”. Since that time his passion for creating recycled couture has taken over, and he’s produced a stunning design using 18 Burberry macs, a fishtail corset dress using 28 camouflage Army jackets, and a body-contouring gown using discarded baseball jackets. Gary’s latest creation is the newspaper dress, made from 30 copies of the Financial Times. He comments: “The desire behind this collection is about re-contextualising iconic, everyday garments to create dramatic new silhouettes”.

His collection of dresses was inspired by the silhouettes and techniques used in vintage couture, each garment is made entirely from recycled iconic garments. The silhouettes conjure up the refined elegance of vintage ball-gowns. The challenge to create a couture-inspired dress collection using recycled clothing has grown from a simple past-time to a serious message that recycled garments can be made into something beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s