From a young, dynamic milliner working in an old Cape Town building, comes a fresh idea. Crystal Birch has launched Happy Hats by Crystal Birch, taking her design practice into the future of a circular economy. For the #RefashionPlastic campaign, Crystal repurposed old polyester dresses and a second-hand faux fur coat to create new hats.
For this year’s #PlasticFreeMzansi campaign Twyg, The Beach Co-op and Biru Experiments collaborated with five designers (including Crystal Birch) who have made garments and accessories from plastic waste. These items are now in a surprise basket travelling to five personalities (one per week of July) who are re-wearing and styling these garments as they wish.
“We can’t keep on using virgin materials. We have to reinvent ways to consume less. We need to re-use, reduce, repair and recycle what we already have. There is no Planet B! And, we have to consume less plastic. We often overlook the fact that our clothing contains plastic. We usually think of packaging, when we think of plastic, but 60% of the cloth we wear contains plastic,” she says.
During the current lockdown, the avant-garde designer pivoted her business from exclusively producing hats to including masks and personal protective equipment to her brand’s product offering.
And now, she offers us Happy Hats by Crystal Birch.
What inspired Happy Hats by Crystal Birch?
Clothing and textiles, so much of which is 100% polyester, are being sent to landfills. Polyester fibres are plastic and won’t decompose for decades. I was inspired by this reality to refashion polyester garments to create a new accessory, which we’ve called Happy Hats. By creating a new garment out of plastic, I have extend the lifespan of discarded 100% polyester clothing. I believe that consumers will be excited to wear a new item made from an old one. By doing this, they are helping the circular economy – keeping materials in use.
From where did you source the materials?
I found the silver dresses in my wardrobe, I’ve been meaning to sell or donate these clothes for ages. This is a project I feel very strong about. I was a stylist for 10 years and the amount of clothes that were dumped on set during my career by clients at the end of a job is horrible. It all adds up and as we know the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. I bought the faux fur jacket at a thrift store.
What are the materials made of?
Two 100% polyester silver dress and an old beanie given were given new life and looks. We have added toggles and elastic for outdoor utility, aesthetic and adjustable size. The bucket hat is made from faux-fur which is plastic too. Faux fur is very toxic to our oceans, because of the very small fibres ending up in the water and landfills.
To see two of my dresses transform into a new hat is something I have been wanting to do for ages. We make Earth happy and the consumer will be happy with a very unique, one-of-a-kind hat. I’m drawn to this circle because the garment gets reincarnated and serves a new purpose.
Crystal made two hats from old and second-hand garments.
A silver cap is made from two 100% polyester dresses.
A winter bucket hat is made from a second-hand faux-fur jacket.
Wear them as and when you wish: dress up, warmth, sun protection… there is no end to possibility.