The minds behind Purple Hill and Lab Carty on the rising popularity of woven fabrics in modern fashion.
By Lizzy Zarrello.
Oversized puffers, graphic sweatshirts, and myriad other aspects of modern-day street style are being revamped using ancient fabric practices. Weaving began in ancient Egypt around 3400 BC and has been a prevalent technique ever since. Now woven blanket and tapestry fabrics are meshing with streetwear at the hands of brands like Purple Hill and Lab Carty.
Purple Hill is a U.K.-based clothing brand that sources recycled tapestry materials from small suppliers to create unique pieces. “These fabrics have usually been discarded or lost in someone’s loft or cupboard, which is why it’s so nice to bring a new life to these materials. All of them are used or vintage, and I think the history that each of them carries is really interesting,” said the owner of Purple Hill, Harry Gamlin, in an interview with Mission. Gamlin uses almost every inch of material to create garments of minimal waste. Now that it has achieved its sustainability goals, the brand is focusing on creating exceptional designs. Purple Hill has recently released their skeleton series, featuring jackets made of woven tapestry fabrics adorned with over thirty individually removable, padded, imitation bone fragments.
Gamlin describes his work with woven fabrics as an “interesting way of repurposing old fabrics with a fresh take that wasn’t patchworking or deconstruction. The uniqueness of each design and the scarcity of each style meant it was quite exciting trying to find fabrics that I thought could work really nicely on a garment, and again, not fully knowing how the item would turn out until the end meant that it kept production fun.” The prints on the fabrics are woven into each design, adding an individual touch to each piece. With only enough material to produce one garment, each piece is unique to the client, “I began the brand in my bedroom with no experience in fashion or production and managed to teach myself everything through lots of trial and error. I want people to have a higher expectation for what they look for in fashion and not be afraid to buy something or even make something themselves that is unique and exclusive to them instead of wearing the same thing that they see every day on the street.”
Lab Carty, founded by designer Omar Carty, is dedicated to creating one-of-a-kind pieces by sourcing custom woven blankets that have prints of different iconic pop culture imagery on them. After scouring the thrift stores in Calgary, Alberta, he came across an old sewing machine and began designing clothes using vintage woven blankets, “one day I found a tag on one of the blankets with a company website and the idea came to me, to get my own blankets made.” Carty now has a manufacturer that turns his custom designs into woven blankets before he cuts and sews them into wearable art.
These woven blanket fabrics are becoming more prevalent in streetwear, Carty clarifies over email to Mission, “besides [woven fabrics] becoming a trend, I believe these pieces are just so unique and never fail to attract eyes wherever people go.” Through his designs, Carty hopes to bring a feeling of nostalgia to the fashion community, “times have changed quite a bit, and I know people reminisce back to times when things were more simple. A lot of my pieces are inspired by childhood memories and iconic moments that people can relate to.”
Ultimately, these pieces transform traditional streetwear styles into intricate meaningful pieces that tell a story. Through their traditional process, woven fabrics, whether tapestry or blanket, carry a narrative deeper than modern materials.
Images courtesy of Lab Carty and Purple Hill