Sustainability consultant Dan Pontarlier has been campaigning in the world of fashion for 15 years. Sublime delves deeper into his new book, the story behind it, and its potential for creating real change in the industry
From Trash to Runway is a manifesto for sustainable fashion. In it, Dan Pontarlier explains why upcycling should be on everyone’s minds, and illustrates through 20 great designs how we can transform clothes we already own into unique pieces.
The journey begins with, as the author calls it, the fight of the fashions. Pontarlier shares thought-provoking facts and figures about the fashion industry and our consumption habits. He explains the need for more sustainability in the fashion industry by diving into the difference between fast, slow, vegan and sustainable fashion, leading us into the world of upcycling. Through pointing out the amount of unused clothing we have sitting in our wardrobes, he aims to generate awareness on excessive fashion consumption, the consequences of donations and the importance of upcycling.
‘Even though a lot of people are starting to be more aware of their decisions when buying clothes, we are still living in a linear system that we know has to be circular,’ Pontarlier says. It’s clear that there’s still a long way to go.
He begins to bridge this gap with practical advice. He takes us to the studio with him; shows us how he upcycles older pieces into new, runway-worthy designs in a clear and simple way. From creating trousers out of a few shirts, or combining old t-shirts into a sweater, the process is explained in what Pontarlier considers ‘the heart’ of his book. This heart is composed of 20 unique upcycling designs created by the author, including reasons and inspiration behind each, the materials used, the process, and the final drawings.
It’s incredibly practical. Pontarlier shares tips on how to select garments for upcycling by considering different fabrics and techniques, what to do if you need extra elements, and what aspects to keep in mind to give your new piece a personal touch. This way, our old garments become fashionable, sustainable and unique.
Upcycling brands and emerging fashion designers are also mentioned in the book for inspiration. And even though the processes of pattern-making, design, and sewing are not deeply explained, From Trash to Runway offers plenty of advice to enable the reader to turn their wardrobe upside down.
The story behind the project? Pontarlier says:
‘I always loved and supported sustainable fashion but my work was mostly dedicated to the hospitality and travel industries. When my parents passed away tragically, I decided that life was too short to not do what one is a hundred percent passionate about. I took my grief, and my way of processing that mourning was by upcycling my parents old clothes to make an homage to them and to have them with me forever. That is when my new life started.’
His passion for the well-being of society and the environment is also reflected in his collaboration with Forest Nation – for every book sold, a tree will be planted in Haiti, besides the 500 trees the author planted initially.
In addition, a QR code at the back of the book grants readers digital access to more facts and figures about sustainability in the fashion industry, extensive details for patterning and sewing, detailed pictures and videos of the pieces created, and even a database of second-hand stores and seamstresses.
From Trash To Runway was quoted by Lucy Siegle, the renowned author of To Die For: is Fashion Wearing Out the World? and a part of the 2015 documentary The True Cost. ‘In order to defeat the linear take-make-and-waste model of living that wreaks such havoc on the planet’s life-sustaining resources, we need visionaries. These are those individuals pragmatic and skilled enough to coach us in how to adapt, but also exciting enough to inspire us to ditch our safety net. Dan Pontarlier is that person for fashion. He makes upcycled fashion aspirational and accessible to everyone,’ she says.
The English and Spanish editions of From Trash to Runway have already hit bookshelves, and the title will soon be available in French and Italian.
About Dan Pontarlier