Introducing ReM’Ade, a New Collection of Upcycled One-Offs From Marques’Almeida

1 year ago 106
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There’s been so much talk during lockdown about the reset fashion needs, that it’s a delight to see the Marques’Almeida designers convert the months of soul-searching into tangible action. Today, they’ve re-emerged on the London Fashion Week digital platform with ReM’Ade, a collection constructed from their own upcycled fabrics, and a manifesto to which they promise to hold themselves to account.

“We’ve had plans to do this for a year, but the pace of doing shows and collections just kept going,” says Marta Marques. “And when you’re in the middle of all that, you think, how do we find time to do this as a side-project?” The time to get around to it finally came when the couple left London just before lockdown for their hometown in Portugal, where they make their collections. “As hideous and dreadful as the pandemic has been,” Marques continues, “this has been a weird, positive thing to come out of it. It pushed us.”

The ReM’Ade launch is accompanied by a film that shows how the designers had already visited their factories, and are seen hauling back the astonishing amount of their own deadstock fabric that was lying there in storage—rolls of gingham, cotton, brocade, denim, chintzy stripes. They set up in a large warehouse space outside Porto, where their expert local technicians—“three of the most amazing women”—could work safely distanced. The designers, pattern cutters, and production team are seen figuring out how to drape and cut patterns to make patch-worked reconfigurations of their dresses, biker jackets, jeans, and multi-flounced layerings. Marques is heard chatting to her toddler Maria. “We decided to do this collection because of you, actually!” She and her partner Paolo Almeida had a second daughter, Alice, in January.

Parenthood was already pricking their consciences about the stress and environmental implications of being aboard the runaway bandwagon fashion-business-as-usual. “We were questioning everything you’re told to believe success is supposed to look like when you get into this,” Almeida reflects. “Does it have to be driven by endless growth, more and more seasons, deliveries and waste?”

ReM’Ade breaks the cycle of risk that is one of the notorious dangers of wholesaling collections in advance. “It’s set up so that people can pre-order—stores and customers who come to our website. If you order now, in June, we’ll deliver at the end of July. Everything will be a little bit different, according to the fabric we have; so really, people will be buying into owning one-offs.” Instead of flinging out endless product in hopes it will sell, Marques says, “it just makes so much sense to make clothes according to demand and availability of materials.”

Ownership will also come with Marques’Almeida assurances. They’ve hired a sustainability officer, assisted by Marques’s father, who has long experience in implementing health and safety standards in the textile industry. Thus, this salient pledge in the ReM’Ade by Marques’Almeida manifesto: that their manufacturing network is “built on care, respect, responsibility, and fair pay.”

“The social impact of sustainability is as important as the environmental—and this is one thing we can do immediately. We’re putting our hands up and saying we don’t know everything, but we are going to be fully transparent and work towards compliance to the UN’s sustainable development goals. We will publish what we have done quarterly.”

The mother brand, Marques’Almeida continues to exist, though the couple—like so many designers faced with the conundrums of the demands of the fashion industry, are currently sanity-checking the expense of runway shows and the fixed routine of seasons. Nevertheless, henceforth, their transparency policy is now embedded in the whole brand. “I think there’s so much worry around how to become sustainable, but we’ve decided the only way to go forward is to just make a start,” Marques laughs. “And look—I can’t believe we’ve managed to do all this in just three months.”

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