As we celebrate the launch of Selfridges Project Earth (our new initiative which explores more sustainable ways to shop), we chat to Hillary Taymour, the designer behind the planet-conscious New York fashion brand Collina Strada, and get her tips on giving existing wardrobe pieces a new and exciting second life. 

Words: Chekii Harling

Playful drawings in the Collina Strada studio / founder Hillary Taymour using marker pens to upcycle old trainers

Just over 10 years ago, Hillary Taymour launched Collina Strada, a fashion brand founded on the principles of handcraft and environmental awareness. Since then, she’s been perfecting a range of DIY mark-making techniques to upcycle existing garments and accessories. From tie-dyeing hoodies to adding embellishments to trainers, these are accessible crafts that you can try out at home. Working with a combination of deadstock and natural materials – such as a silk formed from rose petals – Taymour creates unisex pieces with a youthful charm, which now include face masks for New York’s front-line healthcare workers. We met her online to find out her easy upcycling tricks and views on the future of fashion week.

Collina Strada AW20, photography by Soraya Zaman
When did you become interested in fashion? 

I used to have panic attacks when I was four years old because my Barbies weren’t wearing the right clothes. That’s when it all started.


When did creating garments that have minimal impact on the planet become important to you? 

It’s always been important. I’ve been doing it since the brand started in 2009, but recent technology has made it easier for us to accomplish our goals in recent years.


Where do you source your materials from? 

All over the world! I’ve been with SwatchOn [a wholesale fabric supplier] for a while now, which is where I source deadstock fabrics. Lately, I’ve been using rose sylk, a fabric made from rose petals, which is a low-impact material.

Shop Collina Strada


Before you toss something out of your wardrobe, take a second to think about how you could give it a second life.


Hillary Taymour, the founder of Collina Strada, shares her top tips on how to give items in your closet a revamp. 

What makes a Collina Strada garment unique? 

The brand is about making fun, brightly coloured, dyed garments, but our round-hem sweatshirt is prominent from collection to collection. We like to make loud pieces that are fun to wear.


For beginners who are keen to upcycle pieces in their own wardrobes, which garments, techniques and materials would you suggest they start with? 

Garments-wise, start with anything that you’re about to throw away! Before you decide to toss something out of your wardrobe, take a second to think about how you could dye it, rhinestone it or employ similar techniques to give it new life.


You state on your website that “sustainability is a journey”. What does this journey look like for the brand so far and what are your sustainability goals?

Sustainability takes time; you can’t just become a sustainable brand overnight. It’s about thinking about each part of the garment-making process. Hopefully, someday we can get to a point where we’re not creating any waste whatsoever, but this will take time. 

Collina Strada archive imagery and floral diamanté brooch 


Sustainability is thinking about each part of the garment-making process.

Hillary Taymour, founder of Collina Strada, in the studio with floral diamanté brooches
This week, the British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America have released a joint statement in relation to reinventing the current fashion system. What changes would you personally like to see integrated into the wider industry? 

I love what they published. I’m excited to see brands go off the grid when it comes to seasonal collections – this will see creativity bloom off-schedule. 


What tips would you give to readers on a budget who want to have a low-carbon fashion footprint? 

Refurbish your closet.

Pieces to love, that last

The casting of your runway shows is extremely diverse. How do you cast your models?

I cast my friends and my community because Collina Strada is about creating a community of like-minded souls that seeks to make the world better. I cast people of different shapes and sizes on the runway, which represents that the planet and the brand is for everyone! Often, I feature babies and children in my catwalk shows, as they represent the future the brand is investing in to make this world a better place.


You’ve been making face masks in support of healthcare workers in NYC. How can luxury fashion brands help in a time of crisis? 

We all can do our part. They can make masks, we can make masks, everyone human has the skills to make a mask. Let’s work together to support the parts of society that need help the most.

Collina Strada AW20 runway
What advice would you give readers who are keen to make their own masks?

All you need is fabric, thread, scissors and a sewing machine to make your own mask.


What’s next for Collina Strada the brand? 

Collaborations and new collections coming soon – stay tuned!

Collina Strada AW20, photography by Soraya Zaman

Let’s change the way we shop

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