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ECO WARRIORS

Christopher Raeburn has been pioneering ethical design credentials for over ten years. We ask what’s next for fashion’s original sustainability warrior.

 

Thank goodness for Christopher Raeburn, an elegant, 37-year-old stealth firebrand of sustainability activism who has been gentling nudging the fashion industry towards doing the right thing for over a decade. In 2009, Raeburn knew what most people didn’t, that our levels of consumer consumption were unsustainable, and that eco-fashion was the future. Cue Raeburn launching his sustainable fashion brand ‘RÆBURN’, producing clothing that subscribed to the ethos: Remade, Reduced, Recycled and now finally, the fashion world has clued into his smart stance. Fashion giant Timberland was first to pounce on his know-how and possessed the foresight to bank Raeburn’s ethical credentials and make them their own. In 2018, after appointing him as creative director of Timberland, the iconic American footwear label, a significant part of VF brands alongside Vans, The North Face and Lee, turned over in excess of $13 billion.

 

Raeburn doesn't enter into collaborations with other brands lightly, wise to the fact that his personal brand equity pivots on his own authenticity. ‘My design philosophy is central to responsible design,’ he says ‘which runs alongside Timberland’s commitment to producing responsibly and their efforts to incorporate recycled and organic materials in their products overtime, which inherently matches my own design sensibility.’ And therein lies the core message of the collaboration’s most recent collection, In partnership with Timberland, Raeburn has deconstructed and remade signature Timberland garments which will be on sale in November when the brand’s new store opens on Carnaby Street.

 

Think reversible jackets in camo or two tone, made from 100% recycled polyester, or cool contemporary sweatshirts designed in 100% organic cotton and of course a reworked iconic Brooklyn boot - these pieces are not only sustainable, they are genuinely stylish - but how far is Timberland willing to allow Raeburn to challenge and disrupt it's business practices? ‘Well the first thing to say is that Timberland of course has incredible scale and talented team members around the globe, so our design process tends to be more complex,” he admits. ‘We’ve been working hard at Timberland to really put craft and creativity into the hands of our designers – it’s an exciting moment as we really evolve Timberland to become a leader in responsible design.’

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