The RealReal, the go-to online marketplace for the resale of authenticated luxury goods, has announced its latest effort in helping to build a more circular economy. ReCollection 01 is the company’s first release from its newly minted upcycle clothing program.
The collection was created in partnership with A-COLD-WALL**, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Jacquemus, Simone Rocha, Stella McCartney, Ulla Johnson, and Zero + Maria Cornejo, each of whom donated distressed or damaged clothing to be transformed into new, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Each of those 50+ pieces were reengineered by the Los Angeles-based upcycling studio Atelier & Repairs, who incorporated scraps of unfinished American quilts into each look to celebrate and honor American craftsmanship.
“Every company on the planet today is looking at sustainability and circularity, so the world has changed a little bit from five, ten years ago,” Atelier & Repairs founder Maurizio Donadi told FUTUREVVORLD back in February, when his archival brand Transnomadica dropped a Dockers collection. “Companies understand that you cannot be 100% sustainable right away but you can start the process, and every company can choose what that process is, but they do need to start with something.”
For ReCollection 01, Donadi used those unfinished quilts to add extra flourishes to signature pieces from the designers’ past collections, including an oversized Balenciaga denim jacket, wide-leg pants from Stella McCartney, and a lilac-ruched sleeveless blazer from Dries Van Noten.
“I don’t work with finished quilts,” Donadi told The RealReal. “Let’s put it this way, I don’t destroy. I don’t cut a quilt that’s already finished. The point of view was not to change what designers have done with the clothes that we received. Who am I to change the fit of a Balenciaga jacket or a Jacquemus dress? What we did instead was try to add value to it by bringing a sense of, I think, a sense of joy. A sense of color to these items that were already beautiful.”
The ReCollection initiative is just the latest expansion in The RealReal’s push to keep existing luxury items in circulation. The company started with a fair and easy place to purchase authenticated secondhand pieces, then it introduced repairs services in its physical locations to help preserve those items.
ReCollection extends this work by addressing the large volume of goods that can’t live on in their current state — rips, tears, stains, etc. — and thus are at higher risk of being discarded improperly. This upcycling program is partly possible because the quality and craftsmanship behind luxury goods means they can have many new lives, whereas poorly made fast-fashion clothing typically cannot.
“The problem is that we have already produced a lot of beautiful things that we have not utilized correctly and fully,” said Donadi in February. “And part of that is because of low quality, which will not merit another life. I wish that people would be more sensitive about this issue, and start recycling, thinking responsibly and educating themselves.” This program does more than keep clothing out of waste streams, it showcases the importance of prioritizing quality and longevity when making purchases.
“For the past decade, The RealReal has championed the circular economy, extending the life of luxury goods through resale, repairs and now our ReCollection upcycling program,” said Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of The RealReal, in a press release. “To have such a dynamic group of luxury brands join us for our first collection sends an incredibly powerful message about the importance of circularity and the opportunity we all have to support a more sustainable future for fashion. Our hope is that ReCollection will inspire people to think about the afterlife of what they own and embrace more conscious consumption.”
ReCollection 01 was created with a particular set of sustainability standards in mind, including no virgin fabrications, a zero-waste process, and fair wage, made in America production. Items range from women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, to accessories and quilts, with prices starting at $195 USD and going all the way up to $2,450 USD. The RealReal notes that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each item will be donated to One Tree Planted to support its global reforestation work.
As Vogue Business appropriately points out in its exclusive story, “the direct impact of upcycling luxury on fashion’s overall environmental footprint is likely to be minimal” as it is only a small fraction of the total market. However, The RealReal’s head of sustainability, James Rogers, as well as the participating designers hope that the “ripple effects could be significant.”
“As a designer, I think it’s the biggest compliment for your designs to have an afterlife – to me, that is luxury. And I take it into consideration from the beginning of the process. The timelessness of the design, how it’s made, what materials are used to produce it – it is all part of our ethos at Stella McCartney,” said Stella McCartney, founder and creative director. “We invest a lot to make sure that our products are made to last rather than end up in a landfill.”
The RealReal ReCollection 01 is available now exclusively at therealreal.com/recollection01. Word is that a second capsule will drop later this month, as the company plans to develop a library of leftover scrap materials that can be used in future collections.
In similar news, LN-CC recently collaborated with a selection of brands to produce one-of-a-kind capsules made with deadstock fabric and damaged clothing.