Waste Not, Want Not: Fashion Patches Things Up

Vintage Black Label’s patchwork trench coats made up of recycled quilts
Photos Courtesy Greg Urra

Vintage aficionados and treasure hunters of the world rejoice! The Manhattan Vintage Show, New York City’s most iconic, longest-running, and largest vintage show, returns to the landmark Metropolitan Pavilion on October 14th and 15th.

Left, Ronen Glimer, Amy Abrams, David Ornstein, Adam Ornstein,
Maureen McGill, Ben Ornstein

For years the show was seamlessly produced by David Ornstein, his wife, Maureen McGill, their sons Adam, the Director, and Ben, who was in charge of Internet development. In early 2022, visionary entrepreneur Amy Abrams and her husband Ronen Glimer purchased the show, adding it to their portfolio, which includes Artists & Fleas and Regeneration, a marketplace dedicated to thrifted and pre-loved fashion as well as upcycled and vintage.

Over 90 different entrepreneur dealers will showcase over 100 years in vintage through their one-of-a-kind collections. Moreover, for the first time in 25 years, the show will debut new on-demand services. On-site tailoring experts, Alernew and on-site Manhattan Vintage Stylists Kahdeasha Kesten, Michelle Morrissey, and Eva Dayton will be available by appointment.

Amy says that her mission as the new owner of Manhattan Vintage is to “shake up the conversation around vintage” so that shoppers understand the sustainable and personal value.

“We tend to categorize ourselves in ways that aren’t necessary – trendsetter versus eco-friendly, but the truth is, vintage is about the hunt, owning a one-of-a-kind piece, and about upcycling and recycling”

– Amy Abrams, Co-Owner of Manhattan Vintage Show.
Olivier Theyskens Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: rain-mag.com

Indeed, it is all about vintage, recycling, and upcycling. A few extraordinary moments on the recent runways were courtesy of designers who used repurposed fabrics to create something new. One of the most stunning collections this season was from Olivier Theyskens, whose 26-piece spring 2023 ready-to-wear collection was entirely made by hand using fabric scraps from his 20-year-old archives.

Olivier Theyskens Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo Courtesy Olivier Theyskens

Notable examples include Olivier’s long, lean patch worked and appliqued dresses and one long black coat made from an applique of discarded scraps of cut leather with a feathered effect.

Matty Bovan Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear
Photo by Acielle for Style Du Monde

Upcycling is at the heart of London-based Matty Bovan, who showed his spring 2023 collection at Milan Fashion week under Dolce & Gabbana’s emerging talent initiative. In addition to using his own deadstock fabrics collaged together in clashing patterns, Bovan availed himself of Dolce & Gabbana’s old denim castaways, corsetry, and archival accessories.

Vintage Black Label’s recycled denim jackets with vintage Hermes scarves

Of course, one expects to find recycled clothing made out of deadstock materials at The Manhattan Vintage Show, but it’s not too often you will find clothing designed and sewn by one of the vintage dealers. I always make a point of stopping by Vintage Black Label. I am always attracted to Greg Urra’s reasonably priced, eclectic collection.

Vintage Black Label patchwork coats

While Greg’s fantastic costume jewelry is always a big draw, coats and jackets are his specialties. Before founding Vintage Black Label in 2010, Greg, born in the Philippines, helped source products for different export companies that supplied private labels to stores like Saks Fifth Avenue.

Greg originally wanted to be a fashion designer and has the technical know-how. With time on his hands during Covid, Urra became creative and produced his own upcycled vintage denim jackets and jeans appliqued with vintage Hermes scarves.

Vintage Black Label recycled denim jackets with vintage Hermes scarves

Greg buys designer (Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan) denim secondhand. Taking an existing jacket and pair of jeans, he cuts up and sews on vintage Hermes scarves, many of which are sourced from a vintage dealer in Paris. The scarves might have slight imperfections, which is why he can buy them at reasonable prices.

Vintage Black Label vintage jeans appliqued with vintage Hermes scarves

The jackets are priced at $350 and the jeans $150. They are right on the money, and so are the colorful patchwork coats and boxy hip-length jackets made of old quilts that Greg buys and cuts up.

Vintage Black Label patchwork jacket

There is a mid-calf belted trench, $400, and a shorter boxy jacket, $350. Urra, who studied pattern making in college, creates the patterns and does much of the sewing. He keeps the styles simple, and one size “fits most.”

Greg Urra wearing his recycled vintage jacket

For approximately ten years, Greg, on Instagram, had a retail shop in Soho, but he has seen firsthand that since Covid, foot traffic is not been what it used to be. Urra is now relocating to Hudson, New York. There is a very healthy and burgeoning retail scene in this beautiful area, where many city dwellers, like Greg, have weekend homes.

Greg in his new store in Hudson, New York

Unsurprisingly, this area is a favored subject for many high-profile editors. An article on Vogue.com written by Devorah Lev-Tov, in 2020 was titled “Why a Visit to Hudson, New York is Better Than Ever.” In the Financial Times, August 3, 2021, Deborah Needleman describes the Hudson Valley as “a weekend getaway for New Yorkers — the anti-Hamptons, less fancy, fewer high gloss celebrities and with an assurance that you’re not going to run into all the people you claim to be leaving the city to get away from.” Sounds perfect to me!

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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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