Hyundai Turns Car Scraps Into Sustainable Couture Fashion

Luxury fashion made from car parts gives a nod to upcycling’s potential.

The latest runway looks may be coming right off of the highway. South Korean car company Hyundai is moving into the fashion industry with a sustainable collection made from upcycled automotive scraps.

Hyundai is turning waste into wearable couture. | Hyundai

Hyundai is partnering with six leading designers and luxury brands for its second capsule collection. And don’t let “scraps” fool you — the auto giant is creating couture limited-edition pieces that range from $250 to $1450. The collection includes a Richard Quinn-designed corset made out of airbags and an Alighieri pearl choker made from seat belts. K-pop favorite PushButton made an airbag vest. Public School also fashioned a vest out of seat belts and airbags. Denim brand E.L.V. turned scrapped leather into a jumpsuit. Proceeds from the sales go to support the Institute of Positive Fashion, a research-based organization helping fashion labels become more sustainable.

Hyundai enlisted luxury designer Rosie Assoulin, who crafted a tote bag using seat belt webbing, carpet fabric, and foam. “Working with cars, automobiles, heavy machinery, automation is so outside of our usual realm,” she said in a statement. “At the same time [it’s] very much in our vocabulary to use nontraditional materials.”

Hyundai’s Richard Quinn-designed corset. | Hyundai

A Sustainable Future

Hyundai says the aim of the project is not to transition itself into a fashion brand, but rather, creating awareness about the environmental footprint of the automotive and fashion industries.

“Post the pandemic, we have a massive opportunity to reset the fashion industry rather than returning to business as usual,” says Caroline Rush, CEO of the British Fashion Council, which spearheaded the Institute of Positive Fashion. “Upcyling, in particular, has to be part of the future.”

The automotive industry is one of the leading contributors to climate change. In the U.S., it’s the biggest, producing nearly 30 percent of all U.S. emissions. Many car companies including Tesla, Volkswagen, Toyota, BMW, and Volvo have begun integrating more climate-forward materials in auto production.

Hyundai also wanted to highlight post-production issues and materials least often recycled including glass and airbags.

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