Dutch deadstock pioneer Duran Lantink has teamed up with Ellery to create a collection that reworks a number of the Australian label’s archive pieces
When Dutch designer Duran Lantink graduated from the Sandburg Instituut, an esteemed postgraduate programme for visual artists in Amsterdam, he devised a digital book of 100 upcycled designs, creating looks that saw labels yoked together to form new, hybrid clothes, such as a digitally manipulated Givenchy x Ellery draped onyx gown. Three years later, Lantink, who is committed to combating overconsumption through upcycling, is no longer draping an Ellery gown on a computer screen, but with its founder, Kym Ellery, standing next to him. The duo’s collaboration launches at a unique moment in fashion history, when many people are calling for the industry to slow down and rethink its most unsustainable practices. Theirs makes for a refreshing collaboration, thanks to its eco-conscious focus: Lantink has reworked a number of items from Ellery’s archives to create a new collection.
“Duran and I both feel that something’s wrong with the industry and we’re really connected on that – we wanted to create something together,” offers Ellery, who founded her eponymous label in 2007 in Australia and is now based in Paris. Meeting over a year ago through a mutual friend, the pair made the most of the slower pace brought about the pandemic as an opportunity to begin reducing production output and create something meaningful. Ellery sought to react to the changing state of the industry by embracing Lantink’s sustainable ethos, and began the collaboration by trawling through her brand’s archives.
“Kym gave me around 150 pieces in the studio to work with, from digital images to searching through boxes and boxes of clothes from years ago,” Lantink explains. Embracing his sustainable ethos – Lantink describes himself as a stock-free organisation – the unlikely pairing discovered their correlative approach to design through a digital angle. “Duran works a lot on Photoshop and so do I, so it was quite interesting that we shared that in common,” notes Ellery. From her apartment in Paris to Lantink’s studio in Amsterdam, the duo availed themselves with open arms to technology, bringing their collection about through Zoom calls and WhatsApp, and eventually, with the easing of lockdown, a train journey between the capitals. “We’ve admired one another from afar before but the actual decision to press go happened during confinement,” shares Ellery.
“I think it’s very important for brands and communities alike to see that archive pieces or garments that haven’t been sold can be transformed into something new,” Lantink says of what the pair intend to achieve with the collaboration. “This should be the new way because the amount of production doesn’t make any sense anymore. It’s not right for this time. I really hope people start understanding that using is the new chic: the new forward.”
Showcasing spliced trench coats alongside staple tea dresses and luxuriant column gowns, the collaboration marks Lantink’s first venture with a single brand. “Normally I’m repurposing different identities with multi-brand stores, which is somehow easier to transform into something completely new; you’re not really digging into every single ideology or every single brand identity. But with this collaboration, that was kind of different – you have 150 pieces but each garment is hanging there as one family. You have to learn to compromise your own vision to communicate the other identity. But I really enjoyed having a dialogue with someone else because normally it’s just me designing on the computer. This time, there was really an open discussion about it.”
The unique nature of this collaboration positions a new milestone for partnerships between designers. In acknowledgement of their two practices, the pair have embraced their differences by shooting two separate stories for the collection; one set among the grandeur of a Parisian garden, the other an exhilarating trip down a rabbit hole. “We present ourselves very differently aesthetically, so it’s really fun to see how each of us would interpret the same garment,” they explain. “This collaboration is a way for more people to rely on one product,” says Lantink. The collection, especially considering the context in which it’s being released, works to inspire a change. “To continue as before?” says Ellery. “It’d be disrespectful to the artisans and the many, many hands involved in the industry. From people being secretive about things being burnt and even the way that goods are treated in certain stores. We should be reconsidering what actually is responsible in this day and age, and what’s more respectful not just to the environment but also to one another. We need to question our reality. We need to rejuvenate.”