Sustainability is a hot-button topic in 2019 and with fashion’s monumental impact on the environment, almost every brand has started taking baby steps towards tackling the issue. Much of the time though, the ensuing talk or action is simply lip service, a lot of vague promises and self-congratulatory pats on the back. Sometimes, it’s the houses that go about it quietly that are the most revolutionary. And perhaps no other fashion label reconciles the seemingly opposing values of extravagance and ecological integrity more perfectly than Hermès.
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Since 2010, the brand has been operating the petit h division, whose sole purpose is to give new life, new forms and new functions to leftover materials that would have otherwise been discarded—though “leftover” sounds too trifling a term for the surprising and delightful objects that emerge from the atelier. Hermès calls them “sleeping materials”—a nod to their hidden potential, which, in the hands of its master craftspeople, are unlocked to full, fantastical heights. At petit h, it is the journey that matters, where materials guide the act of creation instead of a preconceived notion of an end product. It is an organic, authentic and ingenious approach to sustainability, ensuring the production cycle comes full circle with zero wastage.
Each year, Hermès takes petit h on the road, making two or three stops around the world. Its final destination this year is Singapore, from 22 November to 15 December. Instead of following a standard template for these events, the brand engages in dialogue with each of its host cities, which would then inform the special editions it creates and the mix of pieces it curates. The Singapore edition will see playful objects such as chests in the form of magpies and dachshunds, a pig plushie rendered in mink and crocodile skin, and a pony-shaped bag with a swish of leather fringe in blush pink.
Even the scenography that gives the event its context is created in tandem with a local creative. Bringing the Singapore pop-up at the Liat Towers store to life is industrial designer Olivia Lee, who will create a set composed of two distinct spaces: A planet populated by organic forms in a vast array of Hermès materials, and a brilliantly lit room evoking a futuristic laboratory. It is a striking set-up that speaks clearly of the petit h ethos of filtering its abundance of materials through inventive, innovative processes to craft and shape new wonders.
More information on the Hermès petit h exhibition and collection here.
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