Connecting the dots between sustainability and creativity can often seem to be an impossible task for designers and fashion brands alike. However, Heron Preston, the American artist, fashion designer, DJ and youth culture phenomenon, defies this notion. Throughout his journey in the fashion industry, Preston has consistently showcased his love for culture and his unwavering commitment to making fashion “Fair” for the new generations and, more recently, the planet.
Preston’s ability to connect with the zeitgeist and urban subcultures have set him apart from luxury brands since the beginning. His collaborations with influential figures such as the late Virgil Abloh, the unmentionable Kanye West and Matthew M Williams have been characterized by curiosity, attention and purpose. However, it was Preston’s transformative trip through the Mediterranean that ignited the deep passion within him to champion sustainability and advocate for better environmental manufacturing practices.
Motivated by witnessing firsthand the detrimental effects of pollution, Preston forged a collaboration with the NYC Department of Sanitation. Meticulously, they crafted a remarkable collection of clothing and accessories, entitled “UNIFORM,” designed with a zero-waste approach at the core. The impact of this collaboration resonated deeply with conscious consumers and swiftly sold out upon its launch in 2016. The resounding success of this endeavor only served to fuel Preston’s dedication to continue striving for a greener, more conscious future.
Moving forward to the present, Preston started to test materials science and biotechnology as means of exploring responsible making. Last year, the designer revamped the artist’s favorite muse, the fruit bowl, using an innovative mushroom-based material called Reishi™, provided by MycoWorks. Now, he is launching L.E.D. Studio, a creative space that embraces the spirit of unrestricted artistic expression, untethered by conventions and barriers. With a keen awareness of our cultural context and the path ahead, the hub is dedicated to crafting products and conceptualizations that prioritize environmental preservation.
Driven by a “Less Environmentally Destructive” mindset, L.E.D. Studio revolutionizes the conventional notion of a studio by introducing a multifaceted ecosystem. This innovative space encompasses a range of initiatives, each with a distinct purpose. “EXCESS,” a clothing recycling and donation program; “WORLD,” a social community, innovative retail shop and YouTube channel; and the “HP L.E.D. Initiative,” a scholarship program promoting diversity in fashion. Additionally, “SERVICE CENTER” is a creative agency that offers comprehensive solutions, with a focus on relatability, relevance and revolution.
Preston understands that the term “Sustainability” is gradually losing its meaning, as it is often overused and abused. He notes, “Creativity has the power to change the world; it’s the greatest rebellion in existence. I believe in meaningful disruption and creating with purpose. The concept of ‘Sustainability’ has become diluted; I believe a more honest term is ‘Less Environmentally Destructive’ (L.E.D.).”
The multihyphenate added, “L.E.D. Studio is my private art and design practice open to everyone equally, set to enrich our understanding and meaning of how ‘Less Environmentally Destructive’ concepts can take shape in culturally relevant and relatable ways. It’s my brain’s playground.”
In a landmark launch, L.E.D. Studio teamed up with three artists to showcase a collection of one-of-a-kind design products. The standout piece is the “So-Low” Table, crafted in collaboration with Brazilian artist Gustavo Barroso and constructed entirely from locally reclaimed cardboard. This low-sitting table showcases remarkable unity as it is meticulously shaped by hand using paper mache techniques and draws inspiration from the art of wood carving.
Meanwhile, the “Enzo Mari” chairs present an ingenious creation born from the partnership between Preston and Studio Guapo, led by the talented Matt Pecina. Made from reclaimed hockey sticks, these iconic chairs embody a distinct source-it-yourself concept. While a technical drawing is provided, the materials for the chairs are left open-ended, allowing for individual creativity and personalization.
Further contributing to the ensemble is the “Ojas” turntable, a collaborative effort between the designer and Devon Turnbull. This extraordinary piece is fashioned using vintage components sourced from old Technique 1300 turntables. Combining nostalgia with innovative design, the pieces stand as a testament to the art of repurposing and revitalizing classic elements.
Moreover, adding convenience and assistance to the L.E.D. Studio experience, the dedicated website features a helpful A.I. robot called BEEP. This intelligent assistant has undergone extensive training, familiarizing itself with all the content on the website to provide valuable assistance to users. Armed with comprehensive knowledge, BEEP can answer user queries and efficiently perform various tasks, enhancing the overall user experience online.
In the realm of fashion, streetwear culture extends its influence far beyond mere clothing choices, intricately intertwining with the realms of art and objects. Yet, venturing beyond the confines of “Cult” brands like Supreme and the high-profile collaborations with “Hyped” designers at IKEA requires a resolute spirit. Heron Preston fearlessly demonstrates not only his audacity in thinking and making but also his willingness to move beyond launches that oversaturate wardrobes and the environment. By pushing the boundaries of what fashion can be, Preston sets a refreshing example, inspiring others to embrace a more purposeful future.
Take a look at the newly launch aforementioned pieces showcased in the gallery above, currently available for purchase at L.E.D. Studio’s website. Besides, various other elements within the L.E.D. Studio range are also ready to be explored online.