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When upcycling becomes art

IUAD Naples students and New York-based Skyco brand reflect on brand heritage

When upcycling becomes art IUAD Naples students and New York-based Skyco brand reflect on brand heritage

From Naples to New York, and throughout the rest of the world actually, the heritage of Baracuta - a historic British brand founded in Manchester in 1937 that gave the world, among other things, the G9 Jacket, fashion's first free-movement jacket designed for golfers who had to play in the inclement and rainy English weather - is expanding. Precisely in honor of its history, to rework and reinterpret it, entering into dialogue with the creative voices of today's world, Baracuta has launched the new Baracuta Upcycled Apparel project, which sees as its first release a reworked version of the iconic G9 Jacket and will be part of the brand's SS22 offering. Baracuta itself called the project «the rediscovery of archive materials and research for new life to fabrics for our fabrics». The result is a collection of reconditioned jackets that bring back stock from Baracuta's previous collections for a new era and a new generation.

Just to celebrate its vibrant creative connection with the new generation, the brand collaborated with a number of fashion schools, brands, and creative studios to create one-off items from a series of archival G9 Jackets. The first part of this creative project saw the young creatives from IUAD Naples and the New York-based brand Skyco dialogue and rethink the brand's heritage. The editorial staff of nss magazine caught up with them to be told about the concepts behind each of the projects.

For IUAD Naples students Ludovica Palma, Valentina Turri and Raffaele Castiello, the spirit of the project was innovation symbolized by upcycling practices. Ludovica, who transformed the archival G9 into a bag inspired by logomania and the «garments studded with monograms from the most coveted brands» is fascinated by the way upcycling can evolve brand identity: «Keeping the essence of a brand can give it a different meaning to strengthen its identity». Valentina Turri, on the other hand, has produced a hybrid jacket that can be transformed into a bag through an ingenious system of zippers. For her, upclycing is a way of continuing the story of creating a garment «that is alienated from the concept of fashion seasonality, but follows its own rules and adapts over time, creating an infinitely repeatable cycle». Raffaele Castiello, on the other hand, who was inspired by the goth/punk world for his reinvention of the garment, exploiting the meanings of the tartan pattern. For him, upcycling is a «ameliorative recovery» that «does not reduce the value of old, discarded but manages to give new life to the product by resorting to intelligent design». For her project, however, Tonya Belliazzi was inspired by the «1963 magazine cover where Steve McQueen riding his motorcycle wears Baracuta's Harrington» recreating the effect of rust on fabric and structuring the G9 like a motor jacket. The logic behind the project is that of upcycling, which «fits the desire for a future that makes the best use of the legacy of our history» and becomes a tool for cultivating awareness of the passage of time.

«People don't cherish or appreciate the garments and that the wearer can just throw them when they have a little hole», said Olivia Hastilow talking about her upcycling project, inspired by the union of Italian and English heritage, which renfunctionalized the back panel of the jacket by transforming it into a bag. Of the same opinion is Agata Brzosowska who said: «We live in times when everyone buys a lot of things because it's easy and fast to produce them but the results of this are already very negative. I think it’s the high time to upcycle things we have because most of them can be for sure used again instead of polluting the environment». For her design, the student followed various inspirations, from Botter's latest collections to the 1990s archives to the idea of functionality represented by a large pocket grafted onto the body of the original jacket. For Macie Walkden, however, «inspiration behind my work was the history of the brand and where the fabric was made. I went into the back story of the miller brother and where it was founded», a historical insight materialized in the upcycling of the G9 Jacket.

Skyco Studios' upcycling project was perhaps the most extreme-and saw Baracuta's G9 Jacket become a folding chair. «I tried to capture a clean yet creative vibe that I think encapsulates the jacket and what the brand stands for». Of course, given Skyco Studios' radical creative approach to emerge is mainly the «jocular twist» with which the jacket has been reinvented. Which is fully in line with Skyco's design philosophy for which «upcycling gives people like me the chance to express my creativity with materials and mediums I would of never imagined using».

«Atmosphere lamps have always played a major role in making our studio feel like a living room» VIJZ studio creatives said, explaining why they focused on transforming Baracuta's G9 Jackets into lamps. «The inspiration actually comes from old antique furniture that nobody wants to have anymore and which I just want to breathe some life into». Upcycling is a lifelong vocation for VIJZ's founders, who since childhood have «process things in an existing or even new product»