In today’s era of sustainable fashion, eco-friendly garments take on many forms: there are sequins made from plant matter, fabric dyes made from fruit, and even thread made from bread. But repurposing natural materials isn’t the only avenue to climate-conscious clothes; recycling manufactured products—already present on our planet—are worthy ingredients too. Benjamin Benmoyal, a fashion student at Central Saint Martins in London, recently unveiled a collection entitled “It Was Better Tomorrow.” In an exciting twist, all of the clothes he designed are made of discarded video and cassette tapes.
The colorful and highly textured garments were hand-woven by Benmoyal; he used a combination of recycled yarn, the metallic grey tape that slithers through the spokes of VHS tapes, and Tencel (a wood-pulp-based fiber) to create the collection. The designer’s garments not only depend on recycled tapes but also on the historic tradition of weaving on a loom, making his clothes a uniquely wearable timeline of creations old and new.
“Many people and companies wanted to get rid of the tapes, as the digital age has made them useless,” Benmoyal said in a statement to Dezeen. “I feel that using VHS (video) tapes from my favorite childhood Disney movies ties to this nostalgic idea of my lost naivety—recovering the tapes into something new.”
As a continuation of the retrofuturistic theme, Benmoyal was inspired by the colors and architectural trends that dominated the 1960s and 1970s—namely, vibrant shimmering tones like those seen in the works of contemporary artists James Turrell and Olafur Eliasson, and the stiff structural elements celebrated in brutalist architecture. Benmoyal’s statement pieces—pants with strong flairs, shirts with geometric collars and boxy shoulder pads, and long, striped skirts with sheen—hearken back to the 1970s’ iconic approach to style.
“This time seemed very optimistic, whereas nowadays we tend to think that the future will be bad or that it won’t even exist,” Benmoyal said of this vintage era’s influence on his “utopian” collection. Select items from Benmoyal’s innovative collection were on view at Designing in Turbulent Times, an exhibition put on by Central Saint Martins. The featured designs all considered sustainable approaches to fashion and the future, making Benmoyal’s recycled video and cassette tape weavings the perfect fit.