At.Kollektive reinvents collaborative design

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Courtesy of At.Kollektive

Contributors, not collaborators, is the idea at the center of At.Kollektive, a new cooperative design project launched by Danish tannery Ecco Leather. For its inaugural collection this fall, the initiative tapped four prolific fashion talents – Natacha Ramsay-Levi, Kostas Murkudis, Isaac Reina and Bianca Saunders – and asked them to each create a nine-piece capsule featuring , accessories and leather furniture. from the Ecco archives. Unlike typical collectives, each designer was encouraged to bring their own perspective to the project. “The goal was to get four creators together and have them do whatever they wanted to do to make something interesting and new,” says Murkudis, who pitched the idea for the collective to Ecco Group CEO Panos Mytaros. , in 2020. “Designers express their own opinions, so there is no creative direction for the whole collection,” adds Mytaros. “We are the gallery; they are the artists.

For Ramsay-Levi, who served as Chloé’s creative director from 2017 to 2020, the prospect of designing a tightly curated collection outside of the expectations of the typical fashion cycle was enticing. “There was no project file; it was about creating what we wanted,” she explains. “I loved the idea of ​​moving from my background of working on entire collections to suddenly having to focus on standalone products.”

black bag with orange stitching

Courtesy of At.Kollektive

Each of Ramsay-Levi’s pieces experiments with the interaction of two opposing elements. There are shoes that combine the straps and shapes of typical sandals with the studs and chunky heels found on wooden clogs; structured leather-wrapped cuffs showcasing roughly cut geodes; a dress constructed from a vintage t-shirt fitted with a leather vest and skirt; and a selection of minimalist shoulder bags decorated with oversized whipstitching.

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Courtesy of At.Kollektive

For the first time, Ramsay-Levi dabbled in furniture design, creating a sculptural side table and rolling seat with rough stone blocks. “I really wanted to take a risk, so we developed this technique of vacuuming the leather,” she explains, explaining how she achieved the crumpled look of the furniture. “For me, it’s like R2-D2,” she continues. “The character was a bit clunky, which is how I wanted the collection to be. Everything is stitched together beautifully, but there’s bulk without heaviness – it’s a game of two things.

chair and table

Courtesy of At.Kollektive

With her eponymous leather goods line based in Barcelona, ​​Reina, who previously worked at Hermès and Balenciaga, was uniquely positioned to join the collective. Inspired by his interest in architecture, which he briefly studied before getting into fashion, Reina approached his capsule with structure and form in mind. “I always play with functionality, but I’m also very interested in geometry,” says the designer, citing classic architects from the 20e century as Alvar Aalto, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Charlotte Perriand as integral influences. In addition to Velcro-covered shoe styles and a bag silhouette reminiscent of a freestanding drum, Reina created two side tables and a lamp, all three of which mimic the pinched cylindrical shape of the bag, as part of her capsule. “We chose to use vegetable tanned leather because it is much more durable,” he notes.

Drawings by Isaac Reina

Courtesy of At.Kollektive

ANDAM Award-winning menswear designer Saunders was inspired by Francis Bacon’s 1963 painting, Study for portrait on folding bed, when conceptualizing his line, adopting the artwork’s graphic color palette in a range of sporting goods with clean, fuss-free appeal. “Most of my work is about gestures and movement and preserving natural folds,” says the designer, who runs her own brand. “So I made a chair with leather that creases in the middle – I wanted it to be very interactive, in a way.”

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Courtesy of At.Kollektive

The most interactive part of Saunders’ collection, however, is a selection of versatile polished bags and clutches. Each tote is equipped with a metal frame designed to fit the shape of its wearer. “It’s basically a doctor’s bag, but there’s this idea of ​​touch connected to it,” says Saunders. Lightweight slip-ons and oversized collared sweaters with snap closures complete her vision.

bianca saunders drawings

Courtesy of At.Kollektive

For his input, Murkudis, who now runs his own eponymous label but cut his teeth by assisting Helmut Lang as a young designer, started with the idea of ​​creating a highly technical but visually sparse bag. “I wanted to do something really futuristic, functional and almost two-dimensional using a natural material,” he says. The result, a minimalist tote, draws inspiration from classic paper grocery bags by featuring their standard fold lines molded into its leather. In light of the intricate leather work associated with it, Murkudis calls the style “a small piece of art that pops like a functional bag.”

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Courtesy of At.Kollektive

This molding technique appears throughout the Murkudis capsule, on shiny gold-plated clutches, cropped motorcycle jackets and long belted coats. To anchor it all, Murkudis also designed a round-toe sneaker with bold cutouts – his way of updating a tried-and-true classic. “That was the general idea,” he concludes. “To create something different from anything that has ever been offered.”

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