Ecco Leather, a leading leather supplier, is launching a new design project called AT.Kollektive, enlisting top fashion creatives including former Chloé designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi and accessories designer Isaac Reina (who previously worked at Hermès) to create limited-edition items to raise awareness of its materials and manufacturing capabilities.
Greek designer Kostas Murkudis and former ANDAM winner Bianca Saunders also join the inaugural line-up of guest creatives. Architect Bernard Dubois will create an installation to showcase the items at events during Paris Fashion Week Men’s and Couture weeks this summer, as well as at a Copenhagen-based AT.Kollektive store currently slated to open in August 2023.
Ecco Leather, which supplies leather for top luxury brands as well as its parent company Ecco Group’s namesake footwear brand, has tasked each designer with creating a nine-piece collection — which can encompass anything from shoes and bags to ready-to-wear and furniture — using its signature materials.
The project is meant primarily as a marketing play as Ecco Leather hopes to educate consumers about its leather materials and boost awareness of its organisation, according to Ecco Group chief executive Panos Mytaros, who stepped into the top job last August after nearly 20 years at the company. By tapping a rotating cast of buzzy creatives, set to be refreshed every two seasons, the company is also set to deepen its ties with influential players in the fashion industry.
“AT.Kollektive is the gallery and the designers are the artists,” Mytaros said of the concept. “The number one for us was to highlight all the innovations, technologies — ways of putting a shoe together, the way of making leather, the way of sustainability of our materials, and then finally also bag making — to highlight them by a designer.”
The move comes amid a surging appetite from luxury brands for leather alternatives, as the companies attempt to fulfil their sustainability goals and appeal to a younger generation of environmentally conscious consumers. Earlier this year, Kering invested in lab-grown leather startup VitroLabs, while Hermès, Stella McCartney and Kering-owned Balenciaga all recently brought products made of mushroom-based materials to market for the first time. Other brands have experimented with leather alternatives made from grapes and pineapples.
Vegan leather alternatives may be introduced in later collections, the company said, although Mytaros believes that animal-based leather can also be a sustainable material option for the luxury industry. AT.Kollektive products are intended to highlight “the value of the material and real sustainability,” he said, pointing to the durability of material as a key asset for product longevity. “We believe that our job is to expose how we make it and how sustainable we make it because we do believe that leather can be very sustainable,” he said.
The debut collections from Ramsay-Levi, Reina, Murkudis and Saunders, priced between €295 and €13,500, will be revealed during a presentation at the Palais de Tokyo during Paris Fashion Week Men’s this summer. They are set to be sold through multi-brand retailers in addition to the Copenhagen store.