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Surf’s Up! Dior and Parley for the Oceans have released their third collaborative beach capsule and it’s the perfect sustainable summer selection.

The link-up, which focuses on transforming ocean plastics into luxury fabrics for Fall 2024, features a selection of menswear in mineral from aqua blues to seafoam greens with pops of white, grey and red colourways this time around – ideal for lazy days spent lounging at the beach…especially considering there’s a Dior oblique monogram hammock on offer. And for looking your best while you do it, you can choose from an array of casual clothes made from airy summer-ready materials including waterproof capes, T-shirts, shorts, rubber H-Town sandals and even a Bob surf board. Beach bags include the Dior 8 and the multi-wear reversible tote, great for carrying all your summer essentials.

Officially released back in May, the alliance reflects the French house’s desire to move toward a more sustainable fashion practice. And with the help of Parley for the Oceans, an environmental organisation and impact network that works to take action against ocean pollution by developing concrete strategies and solutions through an amalgamation of creative collabs and eco-innovations, it’s a match made in seafaring heaven.

Here we speak to Kim Jones, the artistic director of Dior Men’s, and Cyrill Gutsch, the German-born designer and founder of Parley for the Oceans, to dive into the making of the team-up, from the challenges they faced bringing true sustainability into the high fashion sphere and their favourite pieces they’ve created to Jones’ personal appreciation for nature.

Looking back at this three-year partnership, what do you see as the greatest strength of the collaboration between Dior and Parley for the Oceans?

Kim Jones: The collection is 100 per cent eco-responsible. I think this is something we can be really proud of. The first collections were very well accepted by the consumer, so it’s great to carry on the relationship with Parley For the Oceans because we can develop it further, we can look at different product categories, such as leather goods. Obviously, it takes a lot of time and research to achieve the quality needed for a Dior piece. But Parley worked as fast as possible to make it happen – it’s a really impressive organisation.

Cyrill Gutsch: The greatest strength is to have the key decision makers of Dior Homme behind us, backing our collective mission. This includes the business side, the marketing side – all which have been driven by Kim Jones. It is his commitment to the partnership that has allowed us to move and innovate so quickly and to take on more and more challenging developments in the design space. Together, we have moved the needle further than we could’ve anticipated. We have seen success in pioneering, rethinking and redesigning the materials and processes used in creating luxury level collections with eco-innovative textiles. This partnership is a model of what can be done in the fashion industry and with other large brands at scale. It only takes one willing individual to start the conversation and begin designing for and with nature, rather than against.

How have you merged Parley’s material innovations with Dior’s luxury status? Has it become easier year-to-year?

KJ: It took a long time to get the fabrics to the point and level of the Dior quality obviously. Now the fabrics are getting better and better because we’ve worked together, and we can talk about this, I think It’s been years of conversation before it happened to get to the level where we can say these fabrics are suitable for Dior and we have things in quality control, the colour testing, the strength test. We were very lucky to find the right partner to do it with, I’d say, to get it to the place it is.

CG: Each year we have worked diligently to build upon the previous year’s capsule. We keep pushing forward and continue inviting new, innovative ideas, fabrics, and methods for producing purposeful, beautiful garments. Together, with Kim Jones and his team, our strategy is to leave all synthetic materials behind us. To take a 100 per cent natural approach, designing with fibres like Bananatex®, incorporating natural dyes, while also developing other biofabricated fabrics with material innovators like TômTex. This partnership has also provided the space to scale up and refine Parley Ocean Plastic® – our material created from upcycled marine plastic debris and fishing gear recovered from coastlines and remote islands around the world – to such a high quality level that Dior has begun to incorporate the various fabric iterations into several other product lines. Dior’s commitment to championing the mission is shown through the risks and efforts they are putting behind exploring innovative design processes and utilising new-to-the-market, regenerative materials.

How do you approach the balance between functionality and luxury when designing sustainable fashion pieces? Can you give an example from this collection?

CG: At Parley, we truly believe that purpose is the new luxury. When thinking about the design and functionality of a garment, we as designers must look to overlap these two ideas. Fashion moves quickly, and the old concept of luxury is wasteful. Usually a designer and his team pick materials that are already available and perfectly commercialised to then design a garment. With Dior, we have turned this way of designing around. We are working with materials that still need development and design for the specific attributes of the new material innovations. The back and forth of optimising these new textiles has an influence on the thinking and creativity of the design team. On the other side, it helps the material innovators to refine their product. From there the trickle down effect continues, the supply chain gets used to the fact that more is expected from them to engage in the innovation process, which ultimately ends in success for everyone. It’s a true collaboration process that is needed, and Parley plays the role of the glue between the actors.

KJ: I think the approach is the same as when I’m designing my other collections. I love to create elegant collections, but that are also comfortable and functional. I think this is what’s important for men nowadays. One of the pieces I really like is the hammock. It is technical and sophisticated and it can be stored in a small bag which is quite impressive!

What are your favourite pieces from the collection?

CG: The knitwear range in this collection offers some of the most impressive and interesting pieces we have made to date with Dior – especially the Dior x Parley Poncho. Mixing technical knitting with Parley Ocean Plastic® and other regenerative materials was a true challenge and resulted in a unique, timeless garment.

Using 100 per cent sustainable materials can be tricky. What hurdles did you face, and how did you conquer them for this collection?

CG: Finding the best material replacements and engineering them to the quality grade required from a luxury house was not an easy task to accomplish, but it turned out to be a rewarding process in the end. The greatest challenge was changing the design habits that are so deeply ingrained into fashion houses. Typically, designers create their product, then find the material that will best fit to this specific design – which usually limits or compromises the fabrics available to use. Learning from one season to the next with Dior, we have managed to shift away from how things have traditionally been done, and are now designing for the material we truly want to use.

This collection uses Ocean Plastic®, but tell us Cyrill, what specific types are getting a makeover in these Dior pieces?

CG: In this latest collection, we have used Parley Ocean Plastic® in 30% of the garments and are actively working to bring in more and more new materials to Dior’s fabric catalogue, not just our own. We see ourselves as a conduit for material innovation, bridging the gap between material innovators and designers. The products crafted with Ocean Plastic® range from the Mini Dior Scarab Bag, to the Dior and Parley Poncho, to the Dior and Parley Track Shorts and beyond. It has been a fascinating and technical process engineering the intercepted marine debris and transforming it into different fabrics that we typically see used in fashion, like the Ocean Plastic® Technical Taffeta or our Ocean Plastic® Cotton-Blend.

Cyrill, Parley for the Oceans is a purpose-driven organisation. How does this 2024 Dior capsule collection actively contribute to your mission of a Material Revolution and ocean health?

CG: The latest science highlights the dire urgency of action from every individual, corporation and industry to end the rapidly unfolding impacts on both humans and nature, and protect our future on this planet. This capsule shows true change, progress and commitment from a leading fashion house. The way we work with Dior is a blueprint of how we can work with other companies, it shows that it actually pays off to allow invention and innovation into often risk averse, corporate processes. It’s an example of how maisons and brands see success when they are open to transforming their material strategies and design processes. Also, it proves that purpose is the new luxury, and it’s not a sacrifice to quality or to the look when you invite in alternatives. We see so much value in regenerative, natural and biomaterials. They actually contribute to the narrative of a product, collection and brand. The partnership with Kim Jones and Dior Homme is helping us to advance the luxury space and to overcome the obstacles when pushing the status quo. It makes change very rewarding and tangible.

Kim, you mentioned nature’s importance to you personally in the press notes. Do you have a personal connection to the ocean or a specific memory that has fuelled your passion for this project?

KJ: I love nature. I grew up in Africa surrounded by wildlife. I travelled the world and saw lots of wonderful, different areas and animals, so I want to make sure that they are there for the next generation. When I’m not working, I want to be in nature, I want to walk through the savannah or go underwater and see sharks, turtles, pygmy seahorses, all these beautiful creatures.

I returned to Indonesia two years ago for the first time since the pandemic, and it was so different. For example, you’ve got the entrance to Komodo National Park with its beautiful pristine beach on one side, but on the other it’s all plastic. I was with Kate Moss and everyone, and we just got bags and were filling them up with plastic, because that’s what we could do. It’s certainly not the fault of the people who live there since plastic washes up from everywhere.

For me, recycling plastic is such a logical thing, because it’s such a problem.

Do you have any plans to expand the collaboration beyond beachwear collections?

CG: Earlier this year, we announced the latest Arm of Parley – Parley Future Materials. This is our step into utilising and investing in more eco-innovative, biomaterials – like Bananatex®, TômTex, Sparxcell, Modern Synthesis – and connecting them with our brand partners and designers, like Kim Jones. The ultimate vision here is to create a new version of luxury. Luxury that is not exploitative, not harmful, but in support of humans and nature. One which creates value for owning the problems, mastering them and establishing a new economy. Nothing is more luxurious than being able to protect life and the future of the human species. In past partnerships, we have proven that protecting the oceans, natural ecosystems and the climate can be way more lucrative than being a part of the destruction. On the creative side, we are looking forward to new projects with Kim Jones and his fantastic team. We are committed to working further with Dior, to encourage the transformation of the entire Maison. It has been an inspiring, encouraging and truly supportive journey so far. For which I am very grateful. We all are.

Photography by Brett Lloyd.