The “Unfortunately, Ready to Wear” collection is a set of innovative essentials meant to protect people from five climate threats.
Climate adaptation means different things to different communities, but one place you rarely see it is on the catwalk. This year, though, creative designer Luka Sabbat teamed up with partners including the National Resources Defense Council to introduce apocalyptic fashion during New York Fashion Week – a collection that’s as much meant to inspire hope as it presents an ominous future.
The “Unfortunately, Ready to Wear” collection is a set of innovative essentials meant to protect people from five climate threats they’re likely to encounter in the Anthropocene. The threats, all identified by NRDC, include extreme storms, heat, air pollution, infectious disease and refugee status.
“If we don’t start making moves to reverse the damages of climate change, these are the items that may soon turn from fashion accessories to climate necessities,” said the Milk Gallery, which hosted the show and benefit for NRDC.
The collection exhibit featured a dystopia-inspired jacket and hood to protect from extreme storms and infectious diseases, with a fashionable but forbidding bandana to shield against air pollution. There’s a Sabbat-designed backpack to demonstrate the plight of environmental refugees, and a headphone set to deliver the inevitable warnings against heat waves and cataclysmic storms.
A young model and actor, the 21-year-old Sabbat describes himself as a creative entrepreneur. He was born into a fashion family and grew up in Paris and New York City but says he hated it all growing up. That’s changed, and now the “Unfortunately, Ready to Wear” project reflects his commitment to environment and climate issues.
“If it comes down to the world burning down, like, who gives a s**t about a pair of jeans that looks cool?” says Sabbat. “It’s about functionality, making a fireproof jacket. That’s why I like to approach it as less of an aesthetic design or, like, trying to make it look as cool as possible.”
What Sabbat chose instead was to build the collection as prototypes drawn from a technical standpoint, working with NRDC and Milk to deliver a “fashion statement” with real impact. The approach to creating the collection, he says, was to offer “a realistic perspective of what we will inevitably need when the environment becomes less inhabitable. In this scenario, function prevails.”
The point of the project is to appeal to allies in the fight against climate change, and Sabbat is pretty blunt about the difference between, say, posting climate-progressive messages on social media and actually making real-life decisions that will help to secure a sustainable future.
“I might as well push that agenda to the people that I influence, they can take it for what it is or they cannot, I mean it’s up to them,” Sabbat says. “If we both leave the conversation with more information than I think we win, everybody wins.”
The youth appeal is especially critical now, the NRDC says. “The window we have to curb the impacts of climate change is limited. The biggest change, the most important change, will come where it always comes from: young people,” said NRDC president Rhea Suh.
“Together, we want to bring up the next generation of environmental activists to feel empowered and educated as they seek to right the wrongs that brought us to this dangerous moment. We hope this project moves people to consider what our planet’s future might look like and what we’ll need to do, together, to save it.”