Eco fashion news

One Man’s Trash is Another’s Treasure

AlterEquo was born upon the emergencies of the waste collection system in the Capital City. .

By Debora Pokallus - Source: http://www.ecofashionworld.com
Photo © AlterEquo

Photo © AlterEquo

We are always told to stop and smell the roses, to notice the splendor in the world around us. In today’s world, especially with all the ecological problems and tragedies occurring around us, it is sometimes difficult to find the beauty. Who would ever imagine that what is so carelessly discarded and disrupts nature’s tranquility would, itself, possess an inherent beauty?

AlterEquo was born upon the emergencies of the waste collection system in the Capital City. Rome is dirty and scattered with trash. Designer Laura Buffa decided to address the problem directly and re-imagine the overabundance of trash as first hand material for her sustainable fashion project. AlterEquo is an artistic mission: to give discarded materials a new life and purpose and create a work of art. For Laura, based in Rome, a city of ancient monuments and glorious works of art, it was not an impossible vision. Surrounded by the centuries of painting, sculpture and architecture, Laura chose to take this inspiration and transform street trash into wearable art. Plastic is her medium, and it is sculpted, painted and built into classic, contemporary and avant-garde pieces. When finished, nothing remains that would suggest the material’s unaspiring origin.

Photo © AlterEquo

Photo © AlterEquo

Plastic bottles are collected, sanitized and first cut in four parts: bottoms, body, neck and twist end. Some bottles have inspiring designs so the designer just cuts out the shapes that are extruded in the plastic (creating the Empire series), other shapes are cut out according to the designs that have been previously imagined and sketched. The shapes are then worked with the use of heating tools – the plastic is never melted as it is polluting and intoxicating – and at this stage, what seems inert matter actually reveals a strong personality, reacting to heat in ways that differ according to the chemical weight of the PET (plastic). Sometimes they naturally take suggestive shapes, or they are manipulated to create more traditional forms, or express the artist’s inspiration. The shapes either retain their original color, or are painted with enamels to give different hues and shades. Finishing touches are semi precious stones, such as quartz, amethyst, carnelian, cultured pearls or crystals. Individual components are connected with metal chains and connectors to create cascading earrings and bold necklaces. AlterEquo’s commitment to recycling and reusing results in the use of at least 400 bottles per month to produce the collections.

Photo © AlterEquo

Photo © AlterEquo

The necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings are lightweight, contemporary and creative statement pieces that not only reflect the personality of the wearer, but also their eco-conscience. The collection has something for everyone – beautiful, translucent flowers, bold and bejeweled statement pieces, ethereal bridal headpieces, and avant-garde shapes and constructions that would do Madonna and Lady Gaga proud.

It is always encouraging to encounter designers who work within the constraints and self-imposed limitations of ecological fashion to create and recreate collections that rival and exceed the quality and creativity of fashion houses manufacturing without restraint. AlterEquo achieves the seemingly impossible by transforming low-value refuse into imaginative, whimsical creations that surprise and delight.

AlterEquo can be found in the Bel Esprit shopping showroom alongside many contemporary ethical collections.

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