Debuting through Gucci Vault with a psychedelic capsule collection, the project’s first iteration will help launch a horticultural program for primary school children
It’s not enough for brands to sell clothes anymore. Today, designers must commit themselves to community, sustainability, and education, with an increasing number of capsules and collaborations being hawked alongside some kind of altruistic tie-in. Naturally, these initiatives have become the subject of cynicism among fashion pundits – see greenwashing, for example – but that needn’t always be the way.
Total Luxury Spa, for example, has approached fashion as a genuine tool for social progress ever since its inception in 2014, first taking life as a zine, spotlighting local artists who weren’t seeing themselves platformed in museums and galleries. Since then, co-founders Daniel DeSure and Hassan Rahim have built a fully-fledged fashion enterprise, funnelling profits from their street-inflected designs into grassroots projects – most of which are tasked with uplifting the everyday lives of communities across Los Angeles.
Debuting through Gucci Vault this week comes its latest project, UNA – Tools of Love & Mindfulness. And though it’s a little conceptual in nature, UNA is still set to spark real-life change, helping an LA primary school to launch its new horticultural program. “UNA is a personification, an imaginary character or spirit animal that symbolises all things pure, the last unspoiled elements of nature, existence, love, life and an uncompromised freedom of expression,” an accompanying press release reads.
In layman’s terms, “UNA is a kind of offshoot of Total Luxury Spa. TLS still exists and will continue to grow and evolve but we wanted to create something that also lived on its own in an organic way,” DeSure explains. “It could be a clothing line now, then a cartoon, then an education program, then part of an art installation. It’s something other collaborators, artists, clothing lines, and community members could use when they’re working on special projects that give back or in line with the ethos.”
UNA makes its first appearance across a capsule collection of boxy jackets, oversized tees, sweatpants, bags, and beanies, all of which have been emblazoned with soulful messaging, like “In the Garden of the Mind” and “Earth Utopia”. Rendered in retro-futuristic typography and 100 per cent recycled jersey, these pieces are symbolic of “Love, consciousness, mindfulness, and empathy”. Alongside the clothing, DeSure and Rahim have also published a 220-page tome titled Awakenings In The Garden Of Love – a behemoth guide to the origins of UNA, bringing together moodboards and stomach-soaring campaign images, as shot with local kids during a road trip to the Big Sur.
“They had never been to Big Sur and it was a really special experience,” DeSure says. “The landscape there is really magical and I think we all felt the energy of the place. Every second we were laughing about something else and I realised I want to start doing all of our shoots this way. Just a trip with friends, connecting. That’s what UNA is about and really represents. That natural connection.”