- Claire Kalikman
YOU NEED TO MEET THE WASTE WARRIOR BEHIND IRISHLATINA
The Wardrobe Crisis
REBECCA RIVERA MAKES POST-CONSUMER WASTE POP.
“One man’s waste is another woman’s rainbow.” So says the designer behind exuberant sustainable streetwear brand Irishlatina.
Completely made from post-consumer products, collections by designer Rebecca Rivera are colourful and logo-laden: think upcycled Jeremy Scott. Sports jerseys turn into peplum-ribbed dresses, unisex tanks, and brilliant bomber jackets.
A recent FIT graduate, Rivera notes that it was after watching the film The True Cost in 2016 that she vowed to embed sustainability into her business. Her “slow fashion” model involves sourcing post-consumer garments from secondhand stores and warehouses. She doesn’t hide her use of the mass produced tees; logos and slogans from sports teams and other brands are clearly visible in her materials. But they take on a high fashion feel when refashioned into colourful mini dresses and kitsch corset tops.
Her clothes challenge the fast fashion system. By transforming disposable garments into one-of-a-kind pieces, she gives them a new life and a new meaning. She encourages us to ask “Who made my clothes?” with an approach firmly rooted in the Fashion Revolution world. One shirt features the slogans: “No one was hurt in the making of this shirt.”
Her approach is working. Upon graduating, Rivera qualified for the top 50 in the MUUSE X Vogue Talents Young Vision Award Competition, and she has presented her collection at shows across the United States.
Her latest show was at Helsinki Fashion Week, which this year presented an all-digital platform, with CGI models and sets fashioned to look like video games. Opting for a Burning Man-esque backdrop, with strange sculptures splayed across a desert landscape, Rivera’s graphic clothes popped on the screen, making her presentation more successful than designers with more subtle sensibilities.
By pushing back against the prevailing ethos of constant newness, Rivera proves it’s entirely possible to create something exciting from something existing.