BEIRUT: With a collage aesthetic, employing fabrics from curtains, bed sheets, mattresses, secondhand clothes; designer Eric Ritter, turns the unusual into fashion with his combination of sustainability and couture.
A year after founding Emergency Room, a brand that focuses on reusing and reinventing fabulous pieces of clothing from unusual fabrics and sources; Ritter celebrated the launch of the Emergency Room Boutique, in Mar Mikhael, earlier this week.
Attended by family, friends, and fashion enthusiasts, the opening of the boutique boasted a crowd of lively fashionistas . Attendees were asked to pick any piece of second-hand clothing from a shopping basket, grab the scissors next to them, and cut whatever piece they would like with the promise that he would turn the cut pieces into fashion.
The pieces, as Ritter explained to Annahar, are all one of a kind with the aesthetic similar to Collage. Unlike having a sketch and a stock of materials and fabrics, Ritter uses a different language. “You don’t fantasize or imagine a certain final product. You start at looking at what material you have, and you make do with that.”
The quest of creating and discovering the identity and spirit of Emergency Room started for Ritter well after a lot of unhappiness and searching.
“After graduating, I did not want to launch my own brand instantly without finding something special to say. After working both in Lebanon and abroad as a designer, I was still very unhappy in life.”
Deciding to work with an NGO in Tripoli that trained underprivileged women sewing and clothes making skills, Ritter started doing small pieces of clothes and home décor accessories with the women and selling them in exhibitions.
“Under the name of the cooperative, two years in, it was doing great. The ladies were gaining professionality, and I was happier with my life and everything,” he added.
Other than the women Ritter had the pleasure to work with, he found something else in the heart of Tripoli that formulated his style and touch.
Discovering the vintage markets of Tripoli, Ritter started using and buying second-hand clothing, vintage fabrics, and deadstock fabrics.
“That’s how we produce new fabrics. It is all about the deconstruction and reconstruction, that’s our sustainability side. For the ethical production side, we support the local workforce. And they are paid for each piece they produce a great price.”
After a year of having an online brand, and making pop up shops and appearances at different shops, Ritter decided it is time to give Emergency Room the physical space it deserved.
“When every piece is a limited edition, it’s hard to show online the details and work put into the piece. It was only natural for us to open a store, and have our customers come in every week or two weeks to check out new pieces because they’re ever-changing,” he added.
As for the photoshoot campaign Ritter initiated alongside the debut of the boutique, he used over 25 models who come from different background, sexualities, genders, ages, and body types, including featuring his grandmother who rocked the runway wearing one her grandson’s unique creations from the boutique.
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