For co-founders, Lisa Siedlecki and Jenny Silbert, while speaking seriously about the business of redirecting/repurposing post-industrial salvageable materials into beautiful, one-of-a-kind fashionable items, “landfill” is a four-lettered word. Rewilder aims to undermine the legacy of waste perpetuated by the fast-fashion industry through recovering waste materials. Their philosophy is comprised of producing and sourcing locally, reducing the reliance upon mass-manufactured goods of inferior quality while simultaneously redirecting potentially environmentally harmful materials slated for landfills. Siedlecki and Silbert opted to abandon corporate servitude for the greener side of the fence and create a carbon negative company.
The moniker Rewilder (RWR) refers to a concept within conservation biology concerning the return of wildlands altered by human intervention back to a wild-state. The reintroduction and preservation of keystone plant and animal species, and wilderness engineering as an attempt to reconnect the fragmentation of natural habitats in an effort to regain a natural homeostasis. With a twist, Silbert and Siedlecki define RWR as “A movement that explores new ways to create; a cultural shift toward more responsible and careful use of materials; a person committed to solving problems with utmost respect for the Earth.” RWR has a slight socio-political slant toward the sanctity of the environment and its preservation, but of course without being preachy.
Silbert, a creative polymath, attended the University of Pennsylvania for Design and Art History as well as the Yale School of Architecture. She has worked for architecture firms such as SLC based 3form, known for it’s sustainability philosophy and Path to Zero, (0% waste) mission. At 3form, Silbert co-founded and developed the Advanced Technology Group delving into complex and technical architectural problem solving, including hardware design, geometric and structural solutions. However merely producing “no waste” wasn’t good enough for Silbert. “Using and making new for every project is not sustainable.”
Fashion-wunderkind Sieldecki, graduated Drexel University with a degree in fashion design, tenured employment with numerous contemporary and luxury fashion houses in both New York and Los Angeles designing and constructing high-fashion bags. Siedlecki’s approach to bag design combines classic shapes with attention to modernity and detail. Jetsetting to fashion meccas and witnessing labor factories in China and Korea have molded her perspective of the fashion industry and the problems and pitfalls of clothing manufacturing. The persistent and overt use of leather historically within fashion design is also conflict of interests in regards to her stance on animal rights. Siedlecki is constantly pursuing alternative vegan options for her design.
The largest material player at RWR is the cloth. Silbert first encountered the beer filter cloth, used by several macrobreweries, during a Materials Innovation class she taught at the Art Center School of Design in Pasadena and immediately recognized the significance as a lightweight, durable, breathable and most importantly, a reusable material. With Siedlecki’s background in textiles, she knew exactly how to employ the fabric: bags. On the industrial level filter cloth has a maximum life span of roughly two weeks (about 15-20 filtration uses) before being replaced and is made from non-recyclable polypropylene. It’s used by breweries to filter out grains associated with beer-brewing and hops to purify and clarify the beer. The filter cloth retains a particular patina or “beer brindle” specific to the beer style brewed using the cloth, i.e. amber, stout, pilsner, etc. Silbert and Siedlecki confess that “Working with post-industrial salvage fabric is not easy.” After months of research and development and frustration the RWR duo created a specialized version of the french stitch to prevents fraying that compliment the strength and durability of the cloth.
Other resourced disposable materials include climbing ropes, house paint and rubber membrane. Climbing gyms use the ropes for approximately six months before the ropes lose elasticity, the core and sheath begin to deteriorate and thus are retired (this is continuous use, climbers: use your discretion for your own ropes). This is where Rewilder intervenes. The ropes are collected to be reconditioned to continue their life as handles and leashes. The ropes are molted, washed, dyed responsibly, and sewn for durability. Excess interior and exterior house paint is salvaged from construction sites and utilized for rich-colored graphic elements. Rubber membranes are acquired from industrial and construction sites and are transformed into gaskets and infill panels.
Zippers are made in Los Angeles, electing local rather than overseas options. Thread is spun by a socially conscious factory in Germany. Grommets provide durability and longevity for the fabric and are manufactured here in the States.
Conception to production, every aspect (collaboration, sewing, painting, screenprinting) of Rewilder goods is procured in their Hollywood studio. Every piece is unique to the lot of material used, the dye and graphic, handmade-to-order and sequentially numbered as a part of a limited edition run. This grants Siedlecki and Silbert total creative control over the design and production over RWR utilitarian bags. A prolific and effective operation at that; after a year of opening their virtual doors in February 2015, RWR has diverted over 700 pounds of materials from off-shore landfills.
Siedlecki and Silbert share matching tattoos of a zigzag stitch gracing the lateral side of their opposing wrists, and when aligned forms the “W” of RWR. The stitch is as steadfast in textiles as it is an important and trademark detail for the RWR brand, universal to all product lines. It is representative not only of their common entrepreneurship but also to the longevity of their friendship spanning a over a decade. The zigzag machine was purchased from a DTLA sewing shop and the designers immediately fell in love with it. Their tattoos were inked at The Velvet Grip Tattoo in West Hollywood, CA.
For more information, please visit rewilder.com
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