For Robyn Lynch, apparel design goes beyond just creating new, chic clothes. The Dublin-born menswear designer seeks a new perspective on what already exists, while using her Irish upbringing as the core of her namesake brand’s ethos.
At her British Fashion Council NEWGEN debut during London Fashion Week earlier this month, Lynch’s presented a consciously sustainable, upcycled collection done with support from outdoor specialists Columbia.
Lynch’s full-range collection, which has been in development since Fall/Winter 2019, features a distinct color palette that nods to the Irish flag. The jackets are incredible standouts, thoughtfully reimagining the original garments’ functionalities into new uses. For example, the designer repurposed the technicality of a ski-pant’s waistband into an adjustable belt of a coat, then reworked a leftover half of the same pants into a matching bucket hat.
The deadstock Columbia pieces are remixed with Lynch’s own sustainable materials, including recycled eco-waste padding, nylon made from oceanic plastic waste, and biodegradable textiles. Her signature cable knit, an Irish staple, is used throughout as well. Her signature vest is seen affixed on various technical coats, including a detachable version on the front of a padded jacket from Spring/Summer 2020.
The partnership between Lynch and Columbia didn’t start as a need for sourcing material or a need to find a willing outdoor brand. A love for Columbia has always been there for the designer and her friends.
“[Columbia] was like our unofficial uniform,” explained Lynch in an interview with Hypebeast. “It was at that age before you could really do anything or go anywhere; all of our photos from those times feature a Columbia jacket. I wanted to continue working in the form of upcycling and tackling the issue of deadstock, and when I started to think of what brand to work with next, Columbia was my immediate choice.”
Lynch grew up in the interesting, almost transitional time of the mid-2000s. A time when the internet and your digital presence was new, expansive, and explorative, as opposed to how it “defines” you today; it was the infancy stage of today’s mass social media scrolling. That era, and those who grew up in it, turned out to be the perfect archive for research.
“I want to have fun while I’m working and make it as personal as possible,” she told Vogue. “So I got all my friends to unlock their private Facebook albums, because I grew up in the era where we ran out with a camera and an SD card, then the SD card was plugged into the computer the next morning, and every photo went online—if you didn’t like it, tough luck. But we’ve all turned those albums off at this point, because we all have jobs, right?”
Prior to the Columbia partnership, Lynch executed a similar upcycling approach with British cycling apparel brand Rapha. Last year, she spliced returned and unsold cyclewear with Aran knit sourced from Ireland to create playful and youthful silhouettes that stylishly clash tradition with sport. The Rapha collection was a success selling out all but one piece at British luxury retailer Browns, where the 126 pieces were also produced.
The hope will be the same for this season. Similar to the Rapha collaboration, the line was produced in limited quantities with only a maximum run of 14 for each piece. This is not only due to the limited amount of available and usable Columbia winter gear, but also because of Lynch’s meticulous design process.
Additionally, Lynch partnered with director Spencer Young to create a short film presenting the upcycled Columbia collection in a way that, as Lynch describes, “captures the active nature of the garments in the context of the designer’s personal memories. The short film sees models roaming around a surreal landscape of rocks and caves, with a special soundtrack composed by Northern Irish musician Or:la.”