Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting a brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion.
Putting sustainability at the forefront of your brand marketing is a risky move in an industry where greenwashing is frequent — especially for a nascent fashion label. The general consensus has been that by presenting your brand as “eco-conscious,” the level of quality or design will have been compromised. That explains why only a handful of brands such as Noah, Veja, and PHIPPS have successfully combined aesthetic desirability with positive messaging about how their company is limiting its negative impact on the world.
But for Brazilian designer Pedro Lourenço, founder and creative director of year-old brand Zilver, green practices need to be embedded in every fashion label from the start.
“In the image we had in the past of the future, we had no commitment to how we consumed things responsibly. Things were produced without planning,” says Lourenço, whose London-based label showed its second collection during London Fashion Week Men’s in January. “The future is about being conscious and creating ways of being less harmful to the world.”
Lourenço, the son of two of Brazil’s most famed designers, Reinaldo Lourenço and Gloria Coelho, took over the helm of his mother’s diffusion line Carlota Joakina in 2002 at the age of 12. At 19, Lourenço launched his critically acclaimed eponymous womenswear line in Paris, only for it to shut in 2015. A brief stint as creative director of lingerie brand La Perla followed before he founded Zilver in 2018, which was born out of the designer’s frustration at a lack of well-designed eco-conscious garments.
With Zilver, he believes that in order to change the mindset of shoppers, aesthetic appeal must come first. Only then will consumers pay attention to the messaging behind a brand. “It’s about merging responsibility with design,” he says. “When I went to Los Angeles and was doing research about sustainable brands, it would all look bad or fall apart. The [brands] that I would want to buy also need to have the values that I believe in. I want to create that.”
In a way, Lourenço’s goal is to create a template of what a luxury brand should look like today and in the future. As well as being transparent about the way Zilver sources, produces, and markets its fashion, this also means not segmenting collections by gender. “With Zilver, we propose an aesthetic language that enables dynamic freedom between the sexes,” Lourenço says. To do so, Zilver is focused on creating “classics of the future” for a diverse global tribe that shares its values. Kaia Gerber and trans models and activists Teddy Quinlivan and Maxim Magnus can be counted among the brand’s fans.
The way Zilver approaches its seasonal collections is also distinct. The brand takes inspiration from astrology, naming each collection after a sign of the zodiac and theming the clothes based on personality traits inherent to those signs.
For Zilver’s most recent “Taurus” collection, that meant exploring themes such as the material world, comfort, and structure — classic Taurus characteristics, says Lourenço. Sartorially, this was translated into luxurious heavyweight, raw, and textured fabrics ranging from traceable Icelandic shearling to chrome-free and OCS-certified (organic content standard) leather sourced from Sweden.
The desire for physical pleasure, another Taurus trait, is combined with a sense of comfort through wearable bedding. This comes in the form of clean and adaptable duvet puffers made out of recycled nylon and insulated with material reclaimed from used plastic bottles. Sensual dresses resembling soft sheets are crafted from certified organic cotton and poplin. Elsewhere, boxer shorts are made out of recycled denim created with reused water during production. Everything about the brand’s supply chain is transparent.
It’s a feat that has sparked the interest of retailers such as MACHINE-A, Farfetch, and Galeries Lafayette, along with the brand’s signature carry-over items, including its denim with three removable silver “tie” clips at the crotch, metallic buttons on the shoulders of numerous entry-level garments, and organic leather helmet bags. These are the pieces that will make Zilver a recognizable brand when editors, models, and buyers start wearing them outside of shows next fashion season.
Zilver is available next season at MACHINE-A in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Boon the Shop in Seoul, and Farfetch globally.