EXCLUSIVE: Karl Lagerfeld Brand Sets Eco Collaboration With Amber Valletta

Amber Valletta is bringing all her eco credentials — plus cactus leather and recycled cotton — to the Karl Lagerfeld brand, WWD has learned.

She is collaborating with the house on a range of environment-friendly accessories for spring 2021 retailing. They are to make their debut in March at Karl Lagerfeld stores worldwide and online at sites including Karl.com and Zalando.com.

An original Nineties supermodel who still still pops up on the runway now and then, Valletta is also a film and TV actress and a prominent sustainability campaigner.

She confessed she felt emotional when she saw the Karl Lagerfeld x Amber Valletta co-branding.

“Karl and I had so much history together, and I’m excited to be partnering with his namesake brand for a project that’s so meaningful to us both,” she said.

A cornerstone of the collaboration is the K/Kushion bag, a squishy style introduced as part of the fall 2020 collection. “I love how ours will be made with innovative materials and respect for the environment,” she said.

One version, available in green or black, will be made of a vegan cactus leather developed by Mexican firm Desserto. According to the Lagerfeld brand, no irrigation, herbicides or pesticides are required to cultivate the cacti, and the plant-based material, tinted with organic pigments, is considered sustainable and recyclable. Desserto bills its cactus leather as breathable, durable and highly resistance to abrasion and tearing.

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The second version comes in the natural, sandy shade of its fabric, which is 90 percent recycled cotton and certified by the Global Recycle Standard, an organization that sets requirements for third-party accreditation of recycled content. Finishing touches include a decorative cord that’s also made from GRS-certified recycled cotton.

The bag’s ribbed texture and pillow-like proportions were inspired by a special cushion Lagerfeld always traveled with. According to the house, he had kept it since his childhood and treasured it, though it had become weathered and torn.

The K/Kushion comes in several variations and is one of the brand’s fastest-selling leather goods ranges this season.

Pier Paolo Righi, chief executive officer of Karl Lagerfeld, said he and Valletta talked about doing a sustainable project together more than five years ago.

“We were not ready back then, but continuously kept this objective on the radar,” he said, touting her “great insights and our shared passion for environmental sustainability. Amber and Karl worked together for many years, and she is a true member of the Karl Lagerfeld family.”

Rounding out the project is a range of small accessories, all produced in an ecologically conscious manner and compliant with the Lagerfeld company’s Code of Conduct. These include a reusable water bottle, zip wallet, card holder, face mask and laundry bag.

There is a charity component. All profits from the sale of the co-branded K/Kushion bags will go to a charity that supports the goals of the Fashion Pact, an environmental initiative spearheaded by French luxury group Kering. More than 60 global fashion firms signed the pact in 2019 as a framework to reduce the industry’s impact on the climate, oceans and biodiversity.

Honoring its late founder’s penchant for surprising collaborations, Karl Lagerfeld has also cued up a spring 2021 collection with buzzy designer Kenneth Ize, whose colorful, energetic and gender-fluid fashions exalt Nigerian weaving and craft skills.

The brand has recently done collaborations with beauty giant L’Oréal Paris, fashion entrepreneur Olivia Palermo, and yarn and fabric promoter The Woolmark Company.

Valletta was recently named British Vogue’s first sustainability contributing editor. She also established Master & Muse, an online store for eco-friendly fashion brands operated by Yoox.com; serves as an adviser to One x One, The Conscious Design Initiative in partnership with the U.N., and is a board member of the FIT Foundation and is an FIT Sustainability Education Ambassador.

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