Why Richard Quinn Is the Face of Sustainable Couture

They may not be n95 certified, but Richard Quinn's couture face masks are probably more relevant now than ever before. Fashionistas across the globe continue to bow down to social distancing recommendations and mandated quarantines, and rightly so. As a result, we have more time than ever to delve into the couture cornucopia, figuring out who's willing to hit their sustainable quota. Richard Quinn is at the forefront of the discussion.

Cardi B at Paris Fashion Week wearing Richard Quinn

Image Source: Vogue

Back in September, Cardi B stole the show at Paris Fashion Week with a Richard Quinn ensemble that completely covered her body (it did nothing, however, to halt her from shouting "make sure a car don't hit me, 'cause a bitch can't see!").

This bold-faced moment was only one of Quinn's scene-stealing agendas in the modern era. Despite the closure of nonessential businesses in a number of countries (including his home of the UK), he's still managed to keep his sustainable couture empire on the precipice of popularity.

So what makes the Richard Quinn label so sustainable, and how does that eco-friendliness translate into the aesthetic space? We're delving into it like Cardi B into a plate of crab legs (if you know, you know).


Before Couture: Richard Quinn's Roots
Richard Quinn Photos

Image Source: London Fashion Week

At a youthful 30 years old, Quinn is about as fresh-faced as it gets. Despite his young age, he's had no trouble making his stamp on an industry that caters to legacy and history (just think about Dior and Balmain, both of whom started designing in the early 20th century).

Once a student of the fashion program at Central St. Martins, Quinn quickly earned the recognition of esteemed designers. The most notable moment came from Stella McCartney, who actually ended up awarding Quinn an MA scholarship for his spectacular talent. Just imagine that feeling!

Back in 2017, H&M granted the designer the H&M Design Award worth £45,000. This allowed him to jumpstart his couture career with utmost gusto, just as he deserved. He used the funds to invest in a studio, a home for all the designs yet to come.

It's amazing to think that Quinn has come so far in the few years he's been in the business. His youthful appeal, novel designs and utterly ethical approach to manufacturing have put him in the limelight with wild abandon. Now, there's no going back for this UK designer.


A Foray Into Fashion Tech

Richard Quinn Floral Moto Helmet

Image Source: Livingly

One of the most identifiable features of a Richard Quinn design is the intricacy of the pattern. In order to accurately portray his designs onto fabric like polyester, vinyl and viscose (without any bit of dulling), he had to get creative in his approach. That's where digital printing comes into play.

“Digital printing was my solution. I make everything onsite with an Epson textile printer and another machine that produces paper, vinyl and film coverings that can wrap 3D objects.” - Richard Quinn via Vogue UK

This printing technique was actually how he managed to get such vivid designs onto motorcycle helmets for the Autumn/Winter style season of 2018. A fusion of ravishing and badass, these three-dimensional designs are evidence that sheer creativity travels much further than mere replication.

More than technological innovation, Quinn's digital printing approach actually revolutionized his label from a sustainability standpoint. It allows him to keep his resources to a minimum, using about 70% less water and 80% less energy than more traditional methods of couture creation. It seems like his approach is forward thinking in more ways than one!


Collaboration In a Peckham Studio

Once Quinn won the H&M Design Award in 2017, he took that hunk of cash and invested in a London studio. He quickly settled on an incognito establishment in Peckham, an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the infamously stylish city.

To this day, the Richard Quinn Studio remains the unobtrusive yet totally magic palace it's always been. Despite the public's increasing awareness of the designer, he maintains his modest roots and continues to spark genius from flint.

Quinn reserved a portion of the building to serve as his personal design studio. With room to spare, he allocated some of the space for other fashion creators to do their thing. With the likes of Dilara Findikoglu and Charles Jeffrey sharing his space, we can only imagine the kind of ideas they're generating in there. Oh, what we'd give to be a fly on the wall...

If you're lucky enough to be in London, you can actually visit the designer's textile studio as a customer. If you go, we just ask one thing: please do spill the beans about the wonder of it all!


A Fantasy Fusion for the Fashion Inclined

Quinn is open about how much of an influence vintage apparel has on his creative process. His floral prints are reminiscent of vintage textiles, but he manages to spice them up with a futuristic shape, cut or vibe.

In the Moncler 8 Richard Quinn collection from last month, the designer reinforced his interest in "sci-fi fashion of the ’60s with his own garlanded aesthetic."


For Richard Quinn, Sustainability Is Ingrained

Some designers view sustainability as a marketing tactic. Others tack efforts onto their existing manufacturing and production processes without altering the core of the business. In neither of these models is sustainability at the heart of things.

Richard Quinn sees things differently.

For him, sustainability is ingrained, unable to be separated from the whole of his work. The two are not mutually exclusive, but rather complement each other in necessity.

"I don’t think you can be a designer now without being sustainable and socially aware." - Richard Quinn via Vogue UK

We're excited to see what changes he influences as the fashion industry progresses toward a more environmentally friendly and socially just world.


The Cyclical Effect of Ethics in the Fashion Industry

It's interesting to note that Stella McCartney was the first major name to propel Quinn forward in his fashion career. By way of a fashion school scholarship, they highlighted his steadfast morals and undeniable talent. With Stella McCartney now a part of The Fashion Pact, the whole sustainable coalition thing has got us reelin' (in the best way possible). 

H&M may be a fashion giant, but it seems to us like they're really coming around the eco bend. They also joined The Fashion Pact, and with that grant they gave Quinn back in 2017, we can safely say the company played a pivotal role in his development as a designer.

A little bit of sustainability really has a ripple effect. Now that he's found his footing in the industry, we suspect that Quinn will influence other designers and a wave of consumers, bringing the issue of impact to the forefront of fashion for the foreseeable future. You heard it here first!


Is Haute Inherently Sustainable?


Unlike its fast fashion counterparts, haute is anything but ready-to-wear. The idea of couture is that it's made by hand, slowing the process wayyyy down. It's thoughtful by nature, and that helps to contribute to its environmental friendliness.

Haute is only made for the catwalk, as custom apparel or in exclusive quantities. Meanwhile, fast fashion exists on a much larger scale. Of course, the general public needs affordable clothing as an alternative to premium-priced couture, but the resources used to keep the cycle in a constant state of production are truly beyond cognition.

While many fast fashion empires have tens of trend cycles per year, couture labels usually take their time and put out just two (one for Spring/Summer and one for Autumn/Winter). These pieces themselves are also limited and exclusive, so the creation process doesn't take nearly as much of a toll on the environment.

Another trait we can attribute to couture fashion is timelessness. Generalized fashion is based on the concept of trend. Meanwhile, couture takes an artistic approach, granting it authority for generations to come. This makes it far less likely to be thrown away and enhances its chances of being preserved in museums and personal collections for years.

While Richard Quinn goes above and beyond in his eco-conscious endeavours, it's safe to say that haute couture as a whole has a level of conservation in mind.


The Depop Capsule Collection

 Richard Quinn Depop Capsule Collection

Image Source: Depop

If you haven't heard of Depop, it's a shopping app where users can sell clothing and accessories. Many of these items are sold as secondhand, while others are homemade creations by micro-designers across the globe.

Richard Quinn is already a renowned haute couture designer that's been featured at some of the world's largest fashion events, so you may wonder what he's doing on Depop.

Alas, our fave eco-friendly creator strikes again. Back in February, he released a capsule collection just for Depop; these items are made from end-of-roll fabrics, so he's able to make them much more affordably while using up textiles that other labels might toss. All the while, he still makes the product in that same London base as the rest of his collections, using innovative and eco-friendly digital printing to get that quintessential Quinn appeal.

The items for sale are much more affordable than apparel you'll find on the runway, too. A dress for £230, a reusable water bottle for £55, printed tights for £85 and a Richard Quinn jumper for £190—these are just some of the items you'll find on his Depop, and they're all stunning. If you can't afford those twice-a-year collections from Quinn, this is a killer outlet to snag some of the designer's eco-friendly goods.

And if you can find Richard Quinn articles for rent or on sale secondhand, we commend you!


Our Fave Richard Quinn Moments, Compiled

As such a young designer, it's likely that the most legendary Richard Quinn moments wait for us far into the future. However, the exquisite experimentation of his current and recent designs are not to be forgotten (if we have anything to do with it).


Latex stilettos and spiked spurs! Clearly, Richard Quinn did social distancing before it was cool. This look can be traced back to Spring of 2018, where the recent breakout star made Western wear look as graceful as a wild mustang roaming through the prairie.


Friends, the Moncler Genius Richard Quinn Collection - 0 was stunnnning. He revolutionized the motorcycle helmet and gave a fresh face to animal print, somehow making it seem go-go by nature. How'd he do that? We're not sure, but we're not complaining.


For Spring/Summer 2020, Richard Quinn's Dare to Dream collection contemporised waistlines and proportions. In a juxtaposition of his earlier attempts to veil the face, he made the veil translucent. Ironic, isn't it?



Let's not forget about this "God Save the Quinn" moment, full of pearls with no shame to the excess. It's reminiscent of a vintage moment from the late Alexander McQueen, who printed "God Save McQueen" on a faux British flag.


What's Next for Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainability is making it up the fashion ladder. A primary element in contemporary fashion weeks, we're now aware that major players in the fashion industry can no longer sweep eco-friendliness under the rug.

Basically, sustainability is no longer an option. It's an imperative, and one that must weave seamlessly into the fabric of the industry. From the average consumer to the anything-but-average couture designer, clothing that appeals to the needs of the climate remains a necessary effort. Our perspective dictates that this necessity doesn't make eco-friendly fashion any less extraordinary.

 Richard Quinn design on mannequin

Image Source: Flickr

Richard Quinn exemplifies sustainability through his actions and creations, and the effects ripple out on the catwalk and the streets alike. We're all for it, and if it means we can rock designer face masks like the quarantine cuties we are, all the better.


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