Recently celebrating 10 years in the fashion industry, Christopher Raeburn has become a linchpin for innovative and responsible garment design. Known for his unique mashup of sustainability, streetwear and utility, Raeburn’s vernacular includes items like decommissioned British parachutes, military socks, and reversible parkas built with recycled transit blankets. Although Raeburn’s eponymous label is still fledgling, it’s slowly transforming a stubborn industry by the central ethos of ‘Remade, Reduced, Recycled’. To celebrate his impact on the scene, we’ve taken a look back at Raeburn’s career in order to see how the 37-year-old British designer is creating a more sustainable future in fashion.
‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Raeburn’
Having earlier honed his craft as a freelance pattern cutter, Christopher Raeburn graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 2008, before setting up his own studio in the same year. By the end of 2008, Raeburn had already debuted his maiden show at London Fashion Week, ‘Inverted’, a collection of reversible garments that quickly prompted chatter within the industry. Indeed, it didn’t take long for the fashion world to take notice of Raeburn – particularly in his pursuit of ethical practices. In 2009, Raeburn received an award from the international Ethical Fashion Forum after showcasing his menswear collection in Paris and, in 2011, Style.com labelled him ‘the single most radical designer working today’.
Raeburn’s presence in the industry continued its rapid rise, implementing his own radical take on sustainable fashion, and picking up multiple accolades from some of the fashion world’s most outspoken voices. Throughout the next decade, Raeburn’s eponymous label also flexed its collaborative credentials, working with the likes of The North Face, Fred Perry, Rapha, and Clarks. In 2018, one decade after first setting up his London studio, Raeburn was appointed the global director of Timberland.
‘Chapter 2 Begins … Time Is Running Out’
Speaking to The Guardian in January, 2019, Raeburn said, ‘I’ve always approached my business from a design-led perspective first. Our obligation as a company, and for me as a designer, is to make sure I’m embedding good design with really considered choices around the way the materials are made, who’s making them, where that item is made, and what happens to it afterwards. If you’ve ticked those boxes and something is fully recycled and recyclable, it becomes unquestionable.’
Christopher Raeburn continues to explore the boundaries of design, material innovation, and waste reduction to redefine what’s possible in the fashion industry. Minimising the use of micro-plastics and bolstering garment longevity are both pivotal elements for the Raeburn label in 2020 and beyond. It’s all about minimising energy consumption across the board, so the label is lofty in its ambition, and in shifting the global consciousness around climate change. Graeme Raeburn (brother of Christopher, and performance director at Raeburn) even addressed the UK parliament in a hearing conducted by the Environmental Audit Select Committee. The agenda? The fashion industry’s future relationship with sustainability. The hearing resulted in the Raeburn label shutting down their e-commerce site on Black Friday to highlight concerns of over-consumption and impulse shopping.
The Future of Raeburn
‘What we do as an industry is very old-fashioned: We make a load of product in all the different sizes and all the different colours. We put it in physical stores all around the world and we hope that someone will come in and make a purchase,’ Christoper Raeburn told WWD last year. ‘There has to be so much more thought around producing for the individual, but affordably.’ The Raeburn label is continuing to put work behind the slow fashion movement.
Rather than reinforce unmitigated consumption with limited drops and bold logos, the label is making decisions based on their central creed: Remade, Reduced, Recycled. Keeping clothing items for longer is central to this philosophy. Raeburn are even crafting made-to-order clothing in their studio for clients. As Graeme Raeburn said to WWD, ‘What could be more exclusive or limited than coming in and having something made-to-measure, selecting your fabrics or the positioning of your pockets?’
Brands are now constantly seeking out Raeburn after being exposed to the Remade concept, expressing the desire to collaborate and help pave the way for a more sustainable future. Clarks, Moncler and Barbour are just some of the labels that have recently tapped Christopher Raeburn, and with a planet desperately spluttering from humankind’s over-consumption, one can only hope more brands get behind Raeburn’s more progressive frameworks for the fashion industry.