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From Plastic Bags to Haute Couture, Designer Celebrates South African Heritage

Laura Feinstein | GOOD   in  · ·
March 5, 2015

Just when you thought the term “recycled clothing” had lost its cache, along comes a collaboration full of inspiration. Recently, designer and conceptual artist Jenny Lai of NOT Clothing, searching for something fresh to inform her newest work, made the pilgrimage to Johannesburg, South Africa, where she synced up with photographer and filmmaker Chris Saunders, whose fascinating documentation of South African subculture had caught her eye. This past September, the two unveiled their fused passions with an exhibit, “NOT x Chris Saunders,” at the WALLPLAY international space. The show brought together photography, video, fashion, and global culture in a colorful melange, equal parts street style documentation, art project, and reuse initiative. As Lai mentioned to Collectively this week, the inventive textiles used were the result of various shooting locations throughout the city and the creatives who inspired them. “The materials that we used were based on the collaborative artists,” said Lai. “Many of them do use what is available to them.” In this case, the surroundings were a busy Jo’burg neighborhood, a bottle recycling plant, and other unlikely spots, the group using found materials like chicken wire, brown paper bags, and floor sweepings from local barbershops to help create clothing and installations.

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