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All over the country, vintage and antiques stores are being raided for the season’s most sought after fashion item: quilts. No longer relegated to dusty hope chests hiding in the attic, quilts are being remade as wearable pieces including jackets, dresses, and pants—they’re thoughtful, sustainable, and, frankly, very pretty. And it’s the right trend for these unprecedented times, when the pandemic has shifted our fashion priorities: clothes not only have to be physically comfortable, but emotionally as well. If you’re anything like me, that means finding the wearable equivalent of staying at my grandmother’s place, drinking hot cocoa, and reading Little House on the Prairie novels.

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It’s this strong feeling of nostalgia that inspired Jenny Herbert’s slow fashion brand, Late to the Party (shoplatetotheparty.com). Each one-of-a-kind piece constructed in their Brooklyn studio boasts groovy technicolor patterns that are so fun and bright they look like they were plucked out of a Cinemascope film. You’d never guess they’re made from salvaged and vintage fabrics.

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Another meaningful aspect of the quilt clothing trend is the emphasis on sustainability. In the past, quilting was a crucial skill needed to make the most out of scraps. Now, it may be the answer to the over abundance of material we have created and the horrendous growth of textile pollution. After years of working in textile development, Jess Meany (jessmeany.com) created her namesake brand in 2019 as a response to the industry’s mismanagement of their obsolete materials. “Being creative in how to honor the planet, while growing something fun and magical, has been a special way for me to brainstorm alleviating the fashion industry’s environmental footprint,” she says. Meany’s pieces, with their pastel palettes and feminine silhouettes, can make any gal feel like a modern-day cowgirl.

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If the quilt trend tells us anything, it’s proof there’s a growing interest in collecting items with intention behind them. Quilted pieces feel like keepsakes that conjure up thoughts of family and heritage. For Sarah Nsikak, the Nigerian American creator of La Réunion (lareunionstudio.com), quilting is a tool of empowerment. La Réunion highlights how quilts and many patchwork styles are inextricably intertwined with African culture, history, and diaspora. Following in the steps of the Gee’s Bend quiltmakers and the women of Namibia’s Herero tribe, Nsikak’s captivating patchwork dresses are symbols of beauty, resilience, and joy.

By Nina Karina
Top Photo: Left to right: Jenny Herbert of Late to the Party; Jess Meany; Sarah Nsikak of La Réunion Studio

Photos: Ian Kagihara (Jess Meany); Kate Berry (Sarah Nsikak)

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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