Christopher Raeburn: the fashion designer who is working wonders with old fabrics

We've been championing ethical designer Christopher Raeburn for what seems like forever... so of course he made it into Amelia's Compendium of Fashion Illustration with bells on. Here's a taster of what you can find in the book...

Written by Amelia Gregory

Gemma Milly Christopher Raeburn A/W 2010
Christopher Raeburn A/W 2010 by Gemma Milly.

Christopher Raeburn studied at Middlesex University in London, where a really good technical tutor made him keen to attend the hallowed Royal College of Art, from which he graduated in 2006. He has become well known for his upcycling of military fabrics, although he has worked with everything from Eurostar uniforms to hot air balloon material. He sources parachutes, leather jackets, tents and ponchos from military surplus warehouses around England, but has increasingly started to import pieces from Europe so that he can make bigger runs.

Christopher Raeburn by Lesley Barnes
Christopher Raeburn by Lesley Barnes.

The military inherently overproduces so there are huge volumes of fabric and garments that will never be used – dead stock that Christopher is happy to make the most of. In fact most production processes are inefficient so there is always likely to be pre-consumer waste; for example, 10% of the parachute fabric that is made fails opacity tests. Christopher is able to give that fabric a new lease of life. Most recently he worked with windproof cotton from some forty year old Swedish snow parkas. Occasionally a company will contact him about a specific material they think he might like to use, which has been a great way to keep his collections fresh and innovative…

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Christopher Raeburn’s clothing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.

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