Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Karl x Amber Valletta’s Third Collection Takes Sustainable Fashion Back to Basics


In their third sustainable collection, supermodel and activist Amber Valletta and Karl Lagerfeld lean into deadstock denim and organic cotton.

Following up from their first two collections that featured organic, recycled, and novel sustainable materials including Tencel x Refibra fibers by Lenzing and Desserto’s cactus leather, the third Karl x Amber Valletta collection is decisively low-tech, leaning into soft organic cotton and denim while still echoing the glamour that Lagerfeld is known for.

“Throughout the collection, Karl’s style is reflected,” Valletta says on the Lagerfeld website. “Karl’s irreverence inspired us to think out of the box to develop a genuinely stylish, modern collection that cares.”

The ready-to-wear collection features wardrobe staples including jeans, t-shirts, shorts, handbags, and a bucket hat.

Amber Valletta wears items from the 3rd Karl x Valletta sustainable collection
Amber Valletta wears items from the 3rd Karl x Valletta sustainable collection | Courtesy

“My inspiration behind this third capsule collection is Karl himself,” Valletta says of the late designer, noting that seminal designs in the Lagerfeld archives, plus his denim looks, “provided a playful, dynamic tension with our intent of making this denim collection as sustainable as possible.”

Valletta says the brand is not only cool, “but also accessible.” 

“I love being able to continue the legacy of Karl — chic, bold, and innovative,” she says.

Valletta worked with Lagerfeld design director Hun Kim to create a collection that is “both iconic and timeless.”

“It’s exciting and inspiring to work with Karl Lagerfeld and help them create the company’s next iteration,” Valletta says. “I get to witness them make a shift into a new way of thinking.”  

Pier Paolo Righi, Lagerfeld CEO, says working with Valletta has pushed the label to think outside of the box “even more,” particularly when it comes to innovation and design.

Denim look blazer from the Karl x Amber Valletta SS23 collection
Denim look blazer from the Karl x Amber Valletta SS23 collection | Courtesy

For this collection, the collaborators leaned into deadstock — a trending upstream market for repurposing unsold inventory, samples, and material scraps. A number of luxury labels have embraced deadstock recently including Gucci, Valentino, and the LVMH-led Nona Source.

The Karl x Amber Valletta collection also uses certified organic cotton; conventionally grown cotton consumes more pesticides than any other crop — about 16 percent of all insecticides are destined for conventional cotton, which only accounts for about 2.5 percent of all cropland, according to the World Health Organization.

“The fashion industry is one of the largest and most important industries on the planet and has the opportunity to be a real game-changer in solving the [climate] crisis,” Valletta says. “Fashion could lead the way with its creativity and innovation — if we act now.”

She says great style doesn’t have to be “at the expense of sustainability.”

According to Valletta, each collection “brings new opportunities” to improve upon the previous collections.

“We pursued an approach to design, sourcing, and producing this capsule collection with a focus on limiting our negative impact on water and energy consumption, chemicals used, and worker health. We wanted to honor the past with Karl’s iconic and influential designs while at the same time optimizing for the future with innovative, more sustainable materials and processes through using the EIM process,” she says. “We intentionally chose to include recycled materials as much as possible to reduce our use of virgin materials.”

amber valletta in SS23 white shirt and denim for Karl x Amber Valletta
Amber Valletta’s sustainability commitments originated in her childhood | Courtesy Karl x Amber Valletta

Valletta says much of her sustainability motivation comes from her childhood in Oklahoma, where she spent a lot of her time playing outdoors. She also recalls her own mother’s activism and her efforts to protect their community, “which instilled in me a sense of activism,” she says.

In 2021, Valletta was named the Lagerfeld sustainability ambassador, tapped to help the label, once predominantly known for its use of unsustainable and unethical materials such as leather and fur, make progress on its sustainability commitments. The label has since made strides toward a more sustainable future; in 2019, it signed the G7 Fashion Pact, committing to environmental goals.

Valletta was also selected as the first sustainability editor for British Vogue and has served as an ambassador for One x One, The Conscious Design Initiative in a partnership with the UN.

“More than a decade ago, I started to feel a big disconnect in fashion,” she explains. “As I began to look into it, what I saw was very concerning, and I could no longer stay quiet. I started actively using my platform to bring awareness and help move the needle to make our industry better for people and the planet.” 

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