Back in 2016, Stockholm-based brand Our Legacy launched a new concept space, WORK SHOP. The new location blurred the boundaries between store and atelier, putting garments on sale while also establishing a hub for creation. WORK SHOP, situated in an old garage, is not divided into different sections, with on-sale clothes and objects for inspiration sitting alongside tools for customization, including washing machines for overdyeing, cans of spray paint and fabric ready to be reused. Almost two years since it first opened its doors, WORK SHOP weaves together new approaches to sustainability and retail in one finite space.Items at WORK SHOP are separated into nine categories (CRAFT, DEADSTOCK, SAMPLES, RECYCLE, UPCYCLE, KIDS, LEGACY, OBJECTS, REFERENCE), meaning that one-off pieces were displayed alongside a series of carefully curated objects, ranging from record players to vases. These groupings include old seasons sold at a discount price (DEADSTOCK), rare Our Legacy pieces (LEGACY) and unsold pieces of fabric turned into unisex kidswear (KIDS). Arguably, the categories that have attracted the most attention are CRAFT, RECYCLE and UPCYCLE which consist of left-over pieces reworked into unique garments by the Our Legacy creative team.
“Instead of considering old stuff something that is worthless we try to refine it and make it more valuable than it is just lying around.”
“Eventually you end up with a lot of garments, fabric rolls etc.,” Our Legacy Co-Founder Jockum Hallin says of how the brand’s 12-year history led to setting up WORK SHOP, “we just wanted to make something nice out of them, rather than just let them lie around until they’re dusty and forgotten or moldy.” For Hallin, and the rest of the team, WORK SHOP offers a glimpse behind the scenes at Our Legacy, with the brand deciding to embrace the waste it produces — something other labels are keen to distance themselves from.
Over recent years, conversation around fashion waste has continued to increase. One way to combat this waste has been trialed by H&M and the Vasteras Plant, with the Swedish power plant burning the fast fashion brand’s unwanted stock. For Our Legacy, WORK SHOP is a more creative, albeit smaller scale, way to tackle the problem. “Instead of considering old stuff something that is worthless,” Hallin explains, “we try to refine it and make it more valuable than it is just lying around. This is our way of using our waste in a really fun and creative and good way.”For Hallin, the idea at the heart of these WORK SHOP pieces — that waste can be turned into something worthwhile, rather than just thrown away — is something other brands can take notice of. “You see these companies take up on our designs, you see they look at that,” he says — one example is Off-White™’s “Arrow” silhouette, with people pointing out that the chunky sneaker had more than a passing resemblance to the Our Legacy Mono Runner — “but hopefully they can look at this as well.”
“It’s been like a testing kitchen for us to try stuff.”
Working with other brands, and helping them with their left-over stock is one way the Our Legacy team is looking to build on WORK SHOP’s mission. “There’s a couple of WORK SHOP collaborations,” Hallin says of future plans, “everything from official collaborations to us hijacking other people’s stuff and doing the WORK SHOP treatment on their stuff. There’s a bunch of fun things with other brands coming.”
The unique customized pieces, made from unwanted or unsold items, are not just a way to rework unwanted materials and cast-offs; WORK SHOP also has a symbiotic relationship to the main Our Legacy collection. “It’s been like a testing kitchen for us to try stuff,” Hallin explains, “you have ideas, you try them out and if they turn out nice that’s actually something we can put in the next collection. It’s a natural process.” Hallin goes on to give an example from the label’s upcoming Fall/Winter 2018 collection, with an old season shirt that was overdyed into midnight blue and went on to inspire a similar piece.In addition to representing a radical approach to re-purposing the fashion industry’s waste, WORK SHOP embodies the ethos of transparency in other ways. Another key element is reference pieces, which are displayed alongside some of the items they have influenced. In a world of Diet Prada and the constant calling-out of brands for copying designers, being open about influences is an important step for Our Legacy. “The whole thing is about us being as transparent as we can,” explains Hallin, “It’s nothing that you should hide. It’s no secret that every designer looks at other things. You can’t just invent the wheel from scratch.”
“The whole thing is about us being as transparent as we can. It’s no secret that every designer looks at other things. You can’t just invent the wheel from scratch.”
These reference points are an important part of WORK SHOP’s physical location as the WORK SHOP line is only available in store. “In stressful times when people shop five minutes online, this is quite the opposite,” Hallin explains, “you have to go to a specific place in a specific city.” This impacts the way the customers act and the way the Our Legacy team wants to treat them. “Once they’re there, they spend a lot of time,” Hallin says of the visitors, “if they find a reference of an old shirt they really like, it’s something that maybe makes a piece even more interesting.”The REFERENCE collection — which includes everything from 100-year-old military shirts to archive Helmut Lang and Maison Margiela — also represents a potential new avenue for WORK SHOP. “One idea we still have left to go through in the WORK SHOP is homage weeks, maybe it’s Margiela week or Yamamoto week,” explains Hallin. Details regarding possible exhibitions are yet to be decided, although one idea involves both the brand and its clients contributing a range of archival pieces.
Aside from the REFERENCE piece, WORK SHOP also presents non-for sale pieces with the inclusion of OBJECTS. Hallin describes this section as “anything from music, books to ceramists’ works.” The thinking behind this is similar to the reference pieces. With WORK SHOP customers having to visit the Stockholm location — pieces are not currently available online — the brand wants to make the space a reflection of how it sees itself. “It brings a different dimension into a shopping experience,” explains Hallin of the objects, “since it is a very analogue, old school experience, you want to make the world as deep as possible.”Only 18 months since WORK SHOP opened its doors, the space is going from strength to strength. With a successful retail and experimental venture under its belt, future plans for the space are even bigger. As well as potential collaborations and expansions — Our Legacy recently announced that WORK SHOP pieces will be available at its 50-day LA pop-up — Hallin and the rest of the Our Legacy team have set out to use WORK SHOP as a force to change attitudes within the fashion industry. “Together we can change the patterns of seeing back catalogue and old seasons as waste,” concludes Hallin, “with the right touch it’s something that can be really, really interesting.”