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How LA’s Laid-Back Lifestyle Is Producing More Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands

Turns out that chill West Coast attitude is conducive to sustainable design.

LA's eco-friendly fashion brand Atelier and Repair Courtesy of Atelier & Repair.

No longer just for nonconformists, sustainable clothing has become a serious style movement that’s infiltrating every element of our wardrobe—from suiting to skiwear—and, not surprisingly, some of the most innovative concepts are coming from California-based brands. Known for embracing an eco-friendly attitude long before it was popular, LA’s casual lifestyle is especially conducive to new performance fabrics, recycled materials, and experimental apparel.

Reducing waste was the motive behind creative director Maurizio Donadi’s first store, Atelier & Repairs, which opened on Melrose Avenue last summer. A veteran of RRL for Ralph Lauren, Donadi’s mission is to address the fashion industry’s glut of waste and leftover inventory by turning timeworn clothes into entirely new garments. Using everything from vintage Levi’s to new and old military fatigues and button-downs, he creates reimagined jeans, chinos, shirts, and jackets. He’s built quite the loyal following, especially for those who can’t part with a favorite pair of jeans: In the ultimate example of fashion upcycling, Donadi can also transform torn and worn denim into bespoke commissions with handpicked fabric patches and other findings. The same goes for old jackets or ripped T-shirts—they aren’t just updated versions of your old duds, but distinctive new pieces with a lived-in feel.

Outerknown’s Econyl trunks.

Outerknown’s Econyl trunks.  Outerknown

In Culver City, Outerknown is on its own quest to reduce and reuse. Launched by world champion surfer Kelly Slater and creative director John Moore, the label is pioneering a platform of eco-materials, including Econyl, which is made from recycled fishing nets and nylon surplus and used in resilient garments such as board shorts ($98 to $145).

Jungmaven’s hemp T-shirts.

Jungmaven’s hemp T-shirts.  Courtesy of Jungmaven.

Drawing from the old days of sustainable fashion is LA–based designer Robert Jungmann, whose Jungmaven has released a collection of hemp clothing that feels like top-quality cotton—and, thankfully, looks nothing like the hippie styles of the ’70s. Jungmann is leading a movement in the plant-based material, having recently helped pass legislation that legalized the use of industrial hemp, which is more durable, easier to grow, and therefore better for the planet than cotton. That means more of the brand’s beloved T-shirts are on the way. The cult favorites have a big following, obsessively consumed, one would imagine, as much for their feel-good softness as their feel-good story.

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