Rentrayage is a sustainable fashion label based in New York City. Inspired by French-American artist Louise Bourgeois, Rentrayage is a French word meaning “to mend” and to “make whole again“. Accordingly, the label brings old clothes, vintage fabrics and deadstock back to life. In an email interview with FashionUnited, founder Erin Beautty explains how this goes beyond stitching things back together in a new way. For her, the way Rentrayage works is the groundwork for a new way of thinking along with innovative methods.
FashionUnited: Could you tell our readers a little bit about what motivated you to start Rentrayage? How is it different from other upcycling fashion brands?
Erin Beatty: I honestly started Rentrayage because I didn't know how I could continue to work in the fashion industry without attempting in some way to evolve it. Rentrayage is my effort to make change - to show a new way to create. I'm not entirely sure how we're different from other upcycling fashion brands. I think that we're unusual in that we're really trying to create multiple pieces that truly look similar. As well, we don't limit ourselves to fashion. We have a robust upcycled Home Collection that I believe to be as important to our growth.
In an interview with the New York Times, you said that you hope to train the world “to re-look at things that have been discarded”. Apart from the obvious environmental aspect, what is so special about discarded things (home goods and fashion)? And how should we look at them?
I love the story, the past life of what we work with. The idea that that piece was once one thing to one person, and can now be something totally different to someone else. There's something very beautiful in that to me. This idea that we're constantly creating new realities is endlessly inspiring - and that old things, discarded things can expand these realities is quite profound really.
You work with a team of freelancers based in New York City - how difficult is it to find people who ‘get’ what you want? After all, stitching and sewing is a (much undervalued!) art.
Thankfully, there are lots of trained sewers in New York! Finding people who are willing to work in this way is a different story. The more creative the tailor, the more willing they are. Uncovering that openness seems to be the hardest part. Albert, our head tailor and vintage designer, calls in endless favours from friends. We truly couldn't do it without him.
Who would you say is the typical Rentrayage customer (if such a person exists)?
Someone who cares about fashion and about the environment simultaneously.
How do customers usually find/get to hear about Rentrayage?
Press is very helpful as are our retailers. [Exclusive women’s fashion boutique] Ikram has been a champion of the brand since the beginning. I like to think of us as fashion's best kept secret - I'm hoping that changes soon.
Rentrayage is now available via Neiman Marcus (congratulations!). Are there any other exciting collaborations coming up in the future?
Yes! We're also launching in Nordstrom this season as well as growing with Bergdorfs. We also have an amazing collaboration with Madewell launching at the end of September in which we upcycled their old inventory!
And speaking of the future, what is the next step in Rentrayage’s journey?
We're developing some or our own home products - table linens, glassware and upcycled ceramics. I'm so excited to further build on that offering and create truly sustainable pieces for the home.