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reinvent it - feature

reinvent it.

reinvent it
words x dan marrett
photos x cedric bonel, ecal
We have always said “We want you happy. This idea sits at the core of our million miles guarantee: if at any point you become dissatisfied with your Ciele Athletics™ product please don’t hesitate to return it to us for repair or replacement or refund. In return, we ask that you take good care of it and if you’re no longer using it, reinvent it, donate it, trade it or recycle it.”

The tag on the inside of every hat simply says “Take care. Reinvent. Trade. Donate. Recycle.”

Over the years, we’ve built a small collection of gear returned under warranty. Some were beyond repair, waiting for the opportunity for their lives to be continued. This past spring, we found the right moment for it.
We washed a box full of hats and sent them to Switzerland to have design students at ECAL (École cantonale d’art de Lausanne) reinvent them. At the end of the semester, we reviewed the submissions and our team voted on the most inspiring and talented concepts. It was a scattering of checkboxes. 28 concepts received at least one vote. Three rose to the top, albeit barely.

We spoke with the professor, Martino, and the three students whose concepts were chosen.
Dan: Where did this idea come from?

Martino: A close collaborator of Ciele’s approached the head of the Industrial Design department, Stéphane Halmaï-Voisard, who brought me into the discussion and suggested that I make this project a part of the spring semester with my students.

Dan: Is the concept of a product’s downstream life cycle something that’s important for you and ECAL?

Martino: Yes! The most surprising and gratifying part of this is seeing our students, self-driven, make headway towards sustainability. They are the future guardians of the planet, so it’s somewhat expected, but nonetheless quite satisfying to see them take this responsibility so seriously, and have a level of accountability.
Dan: what was the most inspiring moment out of this whole semester long project?

Martino: seeing the creativity and motivation towards a project that even a few years ago would have been a flop (I’ve been teaching at ECAL for 18 years). The idea of reusing something old to make something new is ‘sexy.’ Design is a value-add that attracts more than the value of the materials or the perception of the brand. It’s great to see that more and more, products have a 4th dimensions, one of ethics.

Dan: Something else to add?

Martino: Just a bit of advice for the readers: do not buy without a purpose, do not buy for a brand, do not buy for fashion, or for status… Buy something because you need it, because its design is intelligent and integrated into a logic of circularity or, at the very least, of sustainability. Buy design, the kind that is respectful of nature, but that also shows a strong commitment to ethics towards the people that are making the item. Once again, “buying is voting”.

“everybody run” – giulia burrus
Dan: Where did you get the inspiration for your concept? What does it represent for you?

Giulia: Firstly, I have to say I was inspired by your website and the sporty atmosphere it emanates, which is why I wanted to focus on that theme. Then, I thought of objects I had at home that could use a little upgrading. I immediately thought of the old phone arm band I had at home. I decided to improve this item with your colorful hats, which instantaneously gave my old object a new look, and a new life.

Dan: Did this project change your perspective on how you can repurpose clothing and accessories? Do you think all items can be reinvented to have a second life?

Giulia: During the lockdown, I had already started to rework items of clothing with my sewing machine, so I would say that my way of thinking about used clothing had already changed, but this project really helped me in improving both my knowledge and my sewing technique. It goes without saying that I believe that all items can have a second life with a little imagination.

Dan: After this project, would you say you are more interested in upcycling? If so, are you thinking of other projects you could work on?

Giulia: This concept really means a lot to me, and I will for sure work on more upcycling projects. I think that such reflexes in our conception of consumer items are essential in the world in which we currently live. I would love to continue to rework, reinvent and renew items such as pants or other pieces of clothing that I am not using anymore.
“sun rays” – elie seksig
Dan: Where did you get the inspiration for your concept? What does it represent for you?

Elie: The idea for my « Sun Rays » project came to me while I was observing how shadows were projected on the body in full sunlight. I asked myself how I could play with this shading to make it more palpable, as if it were an integral part of the hat. I chose to use white textile to make the hat almost invisible so that attention is instead directed at the hat’s interaction with light. For me, Sun Rays represents summer, in all its lightness and simplicity.

Dan: What was the most difficult for you in the process of reinventing the hats?

Elie: Since I’m not really into sports, I tried to reinvent and reappropriate the Ciele hats and give them a more poetic and humoristic side. I ended up having a lot of fun working with the hats. I find that, as with sneakers, hats are an awesome accessory to work with since they can become a great canvas to express an infinity of ideas and identity. The most difficult part was to pass that stage at which, after browsing through Instagram, you have the impression that everything has already been done. Still, when you put yourself, your personality in a project, you can be sure that the result will be truly authentic.

Dan: After this project, would you say you are more interested in upcycling? If so, are you thinking of other projects you could work on?

Elie: I was always interested by the logic of upcycling, especially in garment design. Today, the fashion industry and especially fast-fashion are seriously aggravating environmental and social issues, and, through my projects, I would like to create more ethical and responsible alternatives for consumers. I recently acquired tens of meters of used hot-air balloon canvas, and it is only waiting to be upcycled into its second life!
“relaks” – cyprien cossy
Dan: Where did you get the inspiration for your concept? What does it represent for you?

Cyprien: To begin with, I really wanted to entirely deconstruct the hat to really understand how it was put together, and what materials were used. The flexibility of the visor immediately reminded me of flip-flops, so I decided to combine this with the brand’s characteristic sporty identity and had the idea to make a slipper to unwind after a run.

Dan: What was the most difficult for you in the process of reinventing the hats?

Cyprien: To keep the visual identity of the hat by adding as little external elements as possible.

Dan: Did this project change your perspective on how you can repurpose clothing and accessories? Do you think all items can be reinvented to have a second life?

Cyprien: Initiatives like this need to be given more attention, or at least, we should try to repair items instead of buying new every time. I think that, with a little creativity, we can give a second life to everything.

about the author
dan marrett

he/him. here for the stories, the long runs, and the recovery meals.

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