This New York City designer is innovating sustainable fashion practices in a whole new way by converting old scarves into clothing in his latest collection, Occhii. Leonid “Leo” Batekhin just debuted his label this Resort season, and its pieces are entirely made up of recycled traditional Russian print scarves.
A native of Moscow, Russia, Batekhin collected the materials for his collection at a factory 3 hours outside of his hometown. He takes his inspiration from his heritage, particularly his mother whom he often liked to dress or imagine dressing in various outfits. After earning an economics degree from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in Russia, the young designer followed his aspirations to New York where he enrolled in Parsons School of Design. He has just recently graduated from the renown design school with a portfolio of strong, unique pieces, utilizing unconventional textures and vivid, dark colors to represent his emotions and childhood experiences through design.
It’s hard to imagine these pieces once being scarves around someone’s neck; Occhii is comprised of wide-sleeved, airy pieces in surprisingly structured and crisp silhouettes for the material they once were. Truly a work of innovation and transformation, the label not only caters to the environment but also shows off a range of wearability through its multi-gendered models in various life stages. Meant to be a unisex collection, it proves that patterned jackets and khaki culottes can be pulled off by a chic fifty-something-year-old woman just as much as a male in his twenties. Sharp and sophisticated pieces in denim, cotton, and paisley prints common to the traditional Russian scarves.
Batekhin’s native roots certainly show through his work, not only in his latest portfolio collection comprised of deep burgundies, navy blues, and unconventional textures, but in his recent label as well. The large, pleated (and detachable!) sleeves utilized in Occhii are an homage to peasant shirts of 19th and early 20th century Russia. The unique button-back shirt draws inspiration from a Soviet film. Many of his pieces include customizable quirks like these that promote mobility and creativity in the wearer, removable and adjustable panels, pants that can unbutton into shorts, etc. The eco-friendly and flexibility behind the clothing create a one-of-a-kind experience for his customers to really explore with the idea of remodeled and reinvented fashion, breaking conventions and suggesting that any fashion lover can have the power to style their clothes in whatever way they choose. By giving them the freedom to play with the pieces, Batekhin leaves the wearer to ultimately decide how he or she will make the clothes their own.
Images via Occhii