A fashion label called RANRA, 'hidden people' and how to think fashion circularly

When you think of "male archetypes," fashion doesn't necessarily come to mind. But this is exactly what the two designers Luke Stevens and Arnar Mār Jónsson have taken as their model and linked it to sustainable goals. L'Officiel Austria interviewed the "Sustainability Award by Zalando" winners on the day of their triumph at Copenhagen Fashion Week.
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Huldufólk - that's what Icelanders call "hidden people" or even elves, who live in the wild nature of the Nordic country, behaving like humans, but happier, they exist in a parallel world and only become visible when they want to. In contrast to the folk tales that wrap the mythical creatures in "gray clothes", the fashion label RANRA is committed to a much wider color palette, which they implement using innovative, sustainable techniques. Happiness through closeness to nature, however, is what they strive for - as you can imagine.

Combining circular fashion (that is, fashion that can also be recycled), adaptability to everyday life, and natural materials convinced the "Sustainability Award by Zalando" jury, including supermodel and activist Arizona Muse or Ganni CEO Andrea Baldo, at Copenhagen Fashion Week and finally made RANRA the 2022 winner of the award, which is already in its fourth edition.

In addition to 20,000 euros, Luke Stevens and Arna Mār Jónsson can look forward to the opportunity to develop a capsule collection with the online group with a unisex approach, which millions will be able to buy via the e-shop. 

After their first fashion show ever, as they revealed to L'Officiel Austria, it was a lucky day for the designers - just a few hours later their name was drawn from the envelope.

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First of all, what does RANRA mean? 

Luke Stevens: "We made it up actually. It is the name we founded the company is RANRA. We wanted to work moving forward. a bit of a step back from how we were working and how we are going forwards. And we are taking it as a break and how we approach collaborations and collections."


Who did you invite for this collection? 

Luke Stevens: "Our core team is constantly evolving and shifting and we are bringing in specialists depending on what category they are working on. We are trying to work a bit differently and work collaboratively. Our core team is constantly evolving and shifting like one is working on a special dying technique joining us for a collection or longer. It is a way that the specialists are expanding their knowledge in their respective fields."


You mentioned the dying process. Is every dye we can see in your clothes natural like the black tea you've tried for example on one of your jackets? 

Luke Stevens: "We have a couple of different approaches. We are looking for natural dyes or like natural Indigo and we are using for example ways to save water."


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"We hope we can shift the different production processes in the industry."
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This jacket was dyed with black tea and iron beads.

When you scale your production volume - is that still possible then? 

Luke Stevens: "We work really closely with the manufacturing in order to industrialize these processes. So what starts quite artisanally with us in the studio goes hand in hand with the production at the manufacturers. We hope that we have new approaches to manufacturing and shift the different production processes in the industry."


In general, what does sustainability mean for you? 

Arna Mār Jónsson: "Our approach is to put as many techniques out as possible and hope that many people grab them. Therefore, we are also experimenting with three or four techniques every season." 


When you are talking about how others use your techniques: Do you have an open source sort of thing in mind? 

Arna Mār Jónsson: "Yes, we are thinking about doing a webpage with all the 'recipes'."


Is there a void in menswear for more sustainable clothing? 

Arna Mār Jónsson: "I think in general, there is a need for more sustainability in fashion. Nobody has found a solution yet. And we think that our job is to come up with as many techniques as possible. So it can also operate in different spaces like now we are using furniture which is made from salvaged wood. You can also see it on our runway today and it will be taken back to our studio in London after the show."

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The two RANRA designers Arna Mār Jónsson and Luke Stevens in front of the models of their first fashion show

The jacket that you have shown in your part of the exhibition is dyed with iron. How did you come up with that? 

Arna Mār Jónsson: "That was quite a long process. In Iceland, we had a lab with 180 colours of different natural dyes. The difficult thing with natural dye is to control it. So it was not easy to come up with this pattern. Basically, this jacket is to show that there is more than one colour you can do with natural dyes."

Luke Stevens: "It is also waxed by hand which is a very old technique to get cloth waterproof." 


Speaking of the outdoor. Those garments are quite heavy on polyester and other synthetic fiber ... 

Luke Stevens: "Yes, a lot of natural materials have properties that work very well outdoors so we want to amplify those and develop techniques for the production side."

Arna Mār Jónsson: "We produced the jacket in our studio. We don't know if we can do it if we are scaling up all in-house. Generally, we are looking for those materials like cotton that are very tight. Then we can put a bio-membrane with the denim on the outside. Sometimes it does not work. For example, when a garment gets wet, it can get much too heavy. If that happens we take that into consideration for our next collection and start to work on it again."




Photos: Lasse Bak Mejlvang



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