Long ahead of her time, Eileen Fisher is now doing to homes what she did to clothes

Milan – The words ‘Eileen Fisher’ used to be a punchline if you were a woman under 40. ‘You’re basically Diane Keaton,’ joked Madeleine Davies over at Jezebel. Kristy Eldredge took to McSweeney’s to explain that one starts wearing Eileen Fisher ‘when you don’t mind looking like drapes… [or] when you’re liberated by looking like drapes.’ But then, in full earnestness, women of all ages started embracing what fashion site Man Repeller labeled menocore – a play on menopause and normcore. ‘[Women who’ve figured out a thing or two about life reject trends in favour of timeless, simple and deeply personal dressing,’ wrote Lucy Jones of Well Made Clothes, coming clean about how long it took her (and us) to catch up with Fisher's message of conscious femininity. ‘The older I get, the more this style approach appeals to me. I’m only 26, but I already feel tired just thinking about the perpetually turning wheel of the trend cycle.’

Eileen Fisher was ahead of her time with the generous cut and quality build of her clothes. She was also ahead of her time with Renew, a circular buy-back programme that encouraged customers to exchange their used garments for store credit – the pieces can be either professionally cleaned and resold at a lower price or reworked into new items. And now, via a series of textile panels created at the Waste No More studio in New York, the brand is doing to space what it did to clothes: turning ascetic beauty into something immediately aspirational, regardless of the mindful context.

Presented during this Milan Design Week, the Waste No More installation turned the unusable bits of thousands of bought-back white linen, cashmere, organic cotton and wool pieces into a series of delicately produced wall hangings.

Last year at Ventura Centrale, the brand confronted visitors with the sheer size of the apparel market’s troglodyte overconsumption, displaying a towering group of crates filled with discarded clothing in a rainbow array. It also featured a first public iteration of the panels, felted by the studio’s creative director Sigi Ahl in unmissable tones of oranges and cherry reds and periwinkles.

It's not about confrontation as much as it is about offering possibilities going forward

This year at Spazio Rossana Orlandi, it wasn’t about confrontation as much as it was about offering possibilities going forward. The ecru-and-ivory-and-light-pink-coloured scraps came together in a felting feat, using a calming matrix pattern for some and a crosshatch technique for others that looked as if Anni Albers had been inspired by browsing snowtops on Google Earth. They are, on their own, beautifully made items. They can elicit awe and call for reflection in a way that goes beyond what their brightly coloured predeccesors did – and were, fittingly, for sale at the gallery. But most importantly? ‘They’re scalable,’ explained Ahl, speaking of the material sourcing and the needle-punching process used.

It’s an on-brand way of nudging consumers towards inevitably ethical choices

To be clear, this is not an artistic gesture, but instead the launch of a long-term plan for the Waste No More studio. It’s an on-brand way of nudging consumers towards inevitably ethical choices, from the closet to the living room. It is, as Fisher and Ahl describe it, ‘aesthetic activism.’

Since its launch, more than one million pieces have been processed through the company’s buy-back scheme, long before players such as Vestiare Collective and The Real Real made it socially acceptable to engage in the resale market for fashion design. Waste No More’s decorative objects, which will later include cushions and acoustic panels, might be Eileen Fisher’s way of spearheading something similar – but this time, for spatial design.


Liked this article?
We've got more for you

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly updates. Or view the archive.

Execution time : 0,400635957718 seconds