Is this the most environmentally friendly fashion brand in the world?

Designer Raphael Young's latest venture is a true marriage of style, substance and sustainability

This is not the first foray into sustainable fashion for Young, who has also developed eco-friendly footwear under his activist streetwear label F_WD. Photo: Public Serv-ce
Powered by automated translation

Raphael Young’s latest venture Public Serv-ce has been a long time coming. “I had this project in mind for years,” the Seoul-born designer says.

“It was at a time when I was asking myself what people would wear in the future, the day humans would understand that everything we produce should be virtuous and sustainable, but at the same time adapted to our modern way of living.

"This vision of the future was very clear to me; it had to make design, sportswear and biotechnology all co-exist.”

Revolutionising athleisure

Young’s manifestation of that vision is the recently launched Public Serv-ce, which at its heart is an athleisure brand. However, it offers much, more more as it applies thoughtful biomorphic design principles to sportswear and then elevates them by introducing the latest biotechnologies into the mix.

The result is a collection of clothing that is “probably what corresponds the most to what people like to wear every day,” says Young. “It has to be sleek and simple, beautiful, comfortable, accessible, and use the latest biotechnologies to provide the highest level of sustainability and physical benefits.”

Young is convinced this approach, which he has dubbed “well-feeling”, could revolutionise the industry. “The concept of well-feeling is, for us, the physical translation of well-being through the ultra-soft feel of our eco-materials, the engineered bio-fit comfort and the natural biotechnologies we use to treat our fabrics, which are clean and respectful of human skin, biodiversity and the environment.”

He describes Public Serv-ce’s aesthetic as on point and ahead of the curve – “as simple and perfect as an Apple design”. It is rooted in organic design principles that respect natural forms and proportions.

“It is super fluid and futuristic at the same time; no superflux, pure and kind of intuitive.”

Seaweed, hemp and peppermint oil

For the collection’s first release in April, Young unveiled a line of core pieces, including T-shirts crafted from organic cotton and treated with peppermint oil, which has antimicrobial properties that keep the fabric fresher for longer. This, in turn, helps reduce the number of washes required, resulting in less water and energy consumption. Recycled cotton, bamboo, hemp, lyocell and seacell, which is made from seaweed, have also been incorporated, alongside bio-based components that replace plastic.

Materials are enhanced with special plant-based treatments that provide antimicrobial, odour-proofing, quick-dry, cooling, blood-stimulating, compression and shock-absorption qualities.

“We have a high-collar sweatshirt, plus a futuristic tracksuit with exo-pads on the shoulders as well as legs made of organic and recycled cotton fleece. It has an incredibly soft touch, which is enhanced using special natural treatments,” Young explains.

“Another important segment of our first drop is a unique yoga and running line, which we designed with a compression 3D woven seamless fabric to boost blood circulation. It is all made from recycled polyamide.

"All these pieces have transparent soft-touch care labels and a recycled rubber tag that identifies our products.”

Pieces from the collection, including bio T-shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, yoga leggings and bras, will be available from this month exclusively at Galeries Lafayette in The Dubai Mall.

It is the perfect proposition for a post-pandemic era, where consumers' increased consciousness around their buying choices has been supplemented by a growing need to feel more at ease when choosing clothes. But while Covid-19 lockdowns may have acted as a catalyst, the move towards casualisation was gathering momentum long before the pandemic hit, says Young.

“I believe this was here already for a long time and people want to feel good. Who wouldn’t?" he says. "It is part of our mission to bring more ease and comfort to your life.

"I disagree with the old way of doing fashion that too often neglects the comfort of people, who must suffer wearing it for the sake of having an amazing look.",

Fashion's anachronisms

The collection is also unisex and season-free, which ties into the overall ethos of creating clothing that is built to last and is thus, by default, sustainable. For Young, seasonality is an anachronism.

“This is an absurdity that at the beginning was based on real meteorological necessities, but that is now completely based on marketing and sales purposes," he says. "We don’t need to create six collections a year with season, pre-season, cruise, couture etc.

“We should create more durable designs rather than surfing on an ephemerality that pushes people to consume more all the time. There are no more seasons. People travel. Seasons became shorter. We should just consider warm, mild or cold weather.”

This is not the first foray into sustainable fashion for Young, who has also developed eco-friendly footwear under his activist streetwear label F_WD.

The celebrated shoe designer started his career apprenticing at Yves Saint Laurent and has steered the creative direction of brands such as Calvin Klein Collection accessories, Off-White, Jil Sander, Paco Rabanne and Fendi.

"He launched his eponymous label in 2009, which has been donned by the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. However, it is his staunch commitment to creating fashion and accessories that combine style with sustainability that truly sets him apart.

“I believe people want it all – design and sustainability at the same time. It’s not a choice,” he says. “We don’t have to sacrifice anything to look and feel good at the same time.”

Updated: June 05, 2022, 11:05 AM