Sustainable fashion: Renaissance Project, Paris

A sustainable fashion project that combines ethics and aesthetics.

The last Armani fashion show deliberately held behind closed doors will always remain etched in our memory. The designer claims that the Covid-19 represents a great opportunity to rethink the way fashion works. Alessandro Michele, for its part, has announced that Gucci would be parading according to its schedule and plans two presentations per year instead of five. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the sector and brands are organizing post-covid parades in virtual mode. On June 8, Chanel unveiled its cruise collection on social media and, in an eco-responsible spirit, decided to reuse existing fabrics.

A new era is looming, certainly a consequence of the “Fashion Pact” signed in October 2019 by thirty-two fashion giants for a clean future in the textile and fashion sector.

The stakes are high. On February 3 “Renaissance Project”, a non-profit association (www.renaissance-project.org) born last September in Villejuif, on the outskirts of Paris, presented the first up-cycling Couture fashion show at the Institut du Monde Arabe .

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Trained in the tailoring workshop of Cadre Noir in Saumur, collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier …, Philippe Guillet, today president and artistic director of the association, explains how it is possible to completely rethink the codes of couture by recovering its stylistic features, but by grafting them into a social dimension, in a circular economy system “I wanted to tackle the issue of waste by giving luxury and high fashion prêt-à-porter clothes a second chance. The garments are donated by private individuals who become ambassadors and ambassadors of the Renaissance brand. In this way, by recycling designer clothes, we bring them back to life after they were destined for abandonment or destruction. A clear awareness of excessive consumption and waste “. Also, he points out, “I also wanted to give those who made the clothes a second chance. The couturiers hired for the 2019 training courses are people who were now far from the world of work, with social frailties. I cite the case of little Louise, disabled, but also of refugee people, single mothers … I hope these workers will be reintegrated socially and economically. That they can regain their self-esteem. And we need to talk about self-esteem rather than integration “, he smiles. “I offer them professional training, betting on the intelligence of the hand. The creations are made with already existing materials thus stimulating savoir-faire “.

Philippe Guillet thus offers these men and women a second chance. “I fight for an evolution and not for a revolution in the fashion industry. In addition, the hashtags #onatousdroitaunesecondechance (we are all entitled to a second chance) and #soyezrenaissance (be the renaissance) are part of the association’s DNA “.

In the Atelier, the process begins with the careful examination of the clothes, which are completely dismantled. From here, Philippe starts designing a collection; therefore, each couturier is assigned a model that is made with the traditional working methods adopted by the sewing workshops. All accessories, jewelry and bags are subjected to the same up-cycling process. Renaissance Project also created a mini capsule made with 5 uniforms from the Paris Airport (ADP) company: the uniforms have in fact been used for about ten years and ADP has donated almost two tons.

For Philippe Guillet, the goal is not to replace designers but to rethink the future of luxury. “We live exclusively thanks to the patrons and the donations we receive. The Kering Group accompanied us in the first parade, as did various partners such as the town hall of Villejuif, the Île-de-France region and other social partners. The next step will be to develop partnerships with schools. And why not envisage a capsule in the future in collaboration between the association and a major brand? “, relaunches Philippe.

Marie-Claire Daveu, Director of Sustainable Development and International Institutional Relations in Kering, comments: “Renaissance Project was born on the basis of an innovative mechanism, proposing a 360 ° approach to sustainable development, combining environmental and social dimensions. In line with the sustainable development strategy implemented by Kering, it is structured around the fundamentals of “Care, Collaborate, Create”. This project promotes the circular economy and at the same time enhances the craftsmanship. Together with the IFM and the High Fashion Federation, Kering will also provide operational support for the measurement of the ecological footprint in the transformation of the pieces “. And he adds: “Kering is pleased to support the Atelier Renaissance and thus to accompany an innovative initiative that addresses the environmental and social dimension and is based on savoir-faire. This support is in line with the approach that we are voluntarily structuring around collaborations, convinced that it is essential to cooperate in order to proceed more quickly and efficiently “. A winning challenge, therefore, whose first fashion show was held under the sign of emotion. And it led Renaissance Project to win the bet of the ecological transition and the human dimension in sustainable fashion.

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To date, the association is recruiting new tailors and preparing courses for 2020. The theme will be gender neutral. The 2019 collection will be sold at auction and the association plans to create a book to promote it, the benefit of which will be reinvested. Donna Bernard (one of the Renaissance ambassadors and director executive recruitment of the Richemont Group) declares: “I have personally committed myself to this beautiful human and eco-responsible adventure, because I consider that Philippe Guillet is at the heart of the problems of the fashion industry. Through its Association it promotes green growth in inclusive development “.

We listen to Armani’s advice, we rethink the future of luxury from another perspective.

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