One of the shiniest silver linings to come out of this pandemic, has been creativity. This hasn’t been in just its purest form – art – but across the board, as brands and businesses have had to think on their feet (and very quickly, too). Restaurants are vacuum-sealing sell-out pasta and sauce for in-house pick-ups, bars are bottling their signature tipple as takeaway cocktails, fitness studios are filming workouts in catchy bite-sized clips to try at home. In terms of the fashion industry, designers across the world have turned their talent for pattern-cutting and proportion into mask-making and gown-cutting, united in a mission to aid the crisis the best way they know how.
One such brand is By Johnny. Like many other designers, the Sydney-based label had to make big changes to the business and react to a changing market with both haste and innovation. Seeing the surplus production materials squandering in his warehouse, designer Johnny Schembri has turned this trash, so to speak, into fashion treasure by creating new and necessary (and fabulous) products to weather this Covid storm with.
This new focus on upcycling has seen the production of jazzy leisure Robes and snazzy Masks fashioned from discarded fabric in signature Johnny prints. The “throw over” Robes, for example, are made from up-cycled dress fabrics in a zingy mix of By Johnny classic hits and are gloriously lightweight and designed to fit most. Originally designed to be used as cover up robes in hair salons, this month the brand made them available online for all those lounging at home to enjoy, too (and which you can share via a new hashtag #BYJOHNNYFamilyAtHome).
While the Johnny Masks take their form thanks to surplus double-sided swimwear fabric from the Johnny Dive collection. Both washable and re-usable, the masks feature exuberant and decidedly cheery prints from swim season’s past and while not made from medical grade materials, the surgical slips (which accompany medical masks) fit perfectly inside, so you can be protected and still look your fashionable best while ducking up for the dreaded yet inevitable loo paper run.
Working towards a mission of zero waste, these new upcycled “essentials” champion Johnny’s concept of “using what we already have”, a way to create useful items people love and want.
While housebound, the designer has also set up a little home photo studio, creating #JohnnyAppropriArt, a series which features graphics and collages that not only showcase the By Johnny product in novel ways, but other brands and artists he too is inspired by.
Another example of how creativity booms in crisis, this devastating pandemic has laid bare the power of artistry, and how important is it to surrender yourself to art in times like these.