For five years, Julie Benniardi and Debbie Ouyang have been turning luxury interior design scraps into luxury fashion with their Los Angeles fashion brand ReWeave. Now they are expanding their collection with new collaborations on shoes with George Esquivel, streetwear with artist Halim Flowers and a capsule collection with historic Venice textile house Rubelli.
“What happens to samples once the season is over?” was the question that initially led the two Pasadena neighbors, both textile lovers, to launch fashion as an extension of Benniardi’s interior design business.
In addition to elegant off-the-shoulder nipped-at-the-waist tops, puff sleeve blouses, fun camp shirts, culottes, hoodies, bombers and overcoats, some with shearling accents, made from interior design scraps from Armani, Holly Hunt, Christian Lacroix, Etro and others, they also make stools, pillows and dog beds. The brand is represented in L.A. by the Una Malan showroom, and in New York by Dennis Miller.
“Essentially, no one has enough storage space, and the fashion schools and art schools can’t take another thing, so they have to throw them away,” Ouyang said. “And we thought, what if we partner with showrooms in L.A., manufacture and design everything in L.A. and give back to the community by donating a portion of sales to the Downtown L.A. Women’s Center? We wanted to make an environmental and also a social impact, so we specifically address our donation to job training.”
To date, they’ve collected 12,000 pounds of fabric.
Their designs use a lot of patch-working, including chinoiserie silks, brocades, boucles and velvets, tweeds typically used for sofas but with leather and shearling accents; sheers typically used for drapery but as fun linings, and tropical prints. Sometimes they leave the interior fabric grommets on the garments to add an edge.
Prices range from $250 for a bucket hat to $800 for a shearling tote and $3,000 for a coat.
So far they only sell direct-to-consumer on their website and through pop-ups with vintage guru Cameron Silver and others, and 99 percent of what they do is one-of-a-kind. “So many people say to us ‘If only Barneys was still around,’” Benniardi said wistfully.
Launching Wednesday are pieces customized by artist and author Halim Flowers, who at age 16 was charged as an adult for being an accomplice to a felony murder in Washington, D.C., and sentenced to 40 years to life. His experiences as a child inside the D.C. Department of Corrections were filmed for the Emmy award-winning documentary “Thug Life in D.C.,” and he is now free and an activist for criminal justice reform.
Touchingly, a patchwork workwear jacket and shearling tote read, “Not for Cell.”
“His story is quite amazing and he loves fashion,” Ouyang said.
They were introduced to shoe designer George Esquivel through a client, and he has made patchwork mules using ReWeave fabrics. Both the ReWeave x Halim Flowers and ReWeave x Esquivel collections are online now.
The Rubelli collection will debut Sept. 27 at Quintus showroom at the Pacific Design Center in L.A., and will be showcased in Rubelli showrooms across the country.
Later this fall, Benniardi and Ouyang are also introducing statement jewelry made from fabric scraps. The idea was inspired by a visit to Tony Duquette’s legendary home Dawnridge, where interior designer Hutton Wilkinson and his wife, Ruth, always dripping in jewels, sent them off with lots of Duquette’s fabric scraps.
“The collaborations really work well because they allow us to use the fabrics in different ways, and broaden our network,” Ouyang said.
Their clients include businesswomen, frequenters of Art Basel and people looking for one-of-a-kind pieces.
“Five years ago, we didn’t even know we’d be here, but now we’re moving it into different areas,” Benniardi said. “We are taking it step by step but excited for anything that comes our way.”