DS Automobiles is involved in a project that is the antithesis of “fast fashion” and its associations with waste and the environment. To coincide with the 2021 Paris Fashion Week, PSA Group Peugeot Citroën’s flagship arm has captured the zeitgeist by working with a fashion line that claims to absorb harmful emissions from the atmosphere. The capsule collection, with its bold eco slogans, is the work of rising Parisian brand EGONlab who teamed with British research lab Post Carbon Lab to create these advanced carbon dioxide-absorbing fabrics. So far, during the dyeing and coating process and over the course of ten weeks, the material has absorbed up to 1,452g of CO2 — roughly akin to the amount taken-in by a six-year-old oak tree over six months.
Slogan fashion, in particular the slogan t-shirt, comes with a brilliant history of counter-culture beginnings, pop music associations and now a high-street stable. My first encounter was via Katherine Hamnett, the original eco-warrior designer who provocatively wore her “58% Don’t Want Pershing” (in opposition to the US Pershing missiles in the UK) t-shirt when meeting the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. It carried a bold public statement and naturally made headlines. Around the same time, pop sensation Wham! scribbled “Number One” on theirs as less of a public statement and more of a personal love note. Slogan clothing is like a cultural signpost of its time and seemingly still carries a bit of provocative power.
EGONlab’s messaging is pretty clear. “Green Bomber”, “Power Sustainable Dreams” and “Lead the Charge” spell out the label’s ecological stance. First designed and made in Paris, the unisex four-piece collection was then sent to London where the team at Post Carbon Lab treated the fabrics with photosynthetic coating, so the layer of living algae on the the garments absorbs the carbon dioxide in the surrounding atmosphere and emits oxygen while turning carbon into glucose. The bomber jacket and trench coat have been partially coated, while the t-shirts have been completely treated for maximum carbon absorption.
This latest venture forms part of a wider plan for DS to explore a limited edition fashion collection in the future. “We are extremely excited to reveal our first eco-conscious fashion capsule collection,” says Béatrice Foucher, DS Automobiles CEO. “Premium style and innovation are at the forefront of the DS brand and something we believe should go hand in hand as we work towards a more sustainable future, offering innovative mobility solutions.”
Part of this journey involves teaming with like-minded brands from outside the auto field, which is something we are seeing more and more of as the car world tentatively navigates its place in the future consumer landscape. EGONlab sees itself as a performative fashion brand that pays homage to the “great revolutionaries” of our time. “We took inspiration from the city of Paris and the strong spirit of its residents. We are excited to work with new materials and techniques,” say the brand’s co-founders Florentin Glemarec and Kévin Nompeix. “We love how each piece has turned out and how accessible they are for people looking to make a statement and reduce their carbon footprint.”
Post Carbon Lab is a trans-disciplinary design research studio with a focus on sustainability. Its microbial treatments allow fabrics and clothes to serve an ecological purpose and respond to the world around them. “Working with DS and EGONlab has been a great way to test our new technology and merge the two worlds of fashion, innovation and green living together — something we strive to provide the metropolitan audience with,” say co-founders Dian-Jen Lin and Hannes Hulstaert. “It is clear that as individual brands, we all share a passion for using advanced technologies and working towards a sustainable future.”
DS was created as a sub-brand in 2014 to sit at the pinnacle of the PSA Group portfolio. The idea was to benefit from the growing desire for European premium cars and for the carmaker to become more of a global player. The first DS products were cautious facelifts of existing Citroën models, while the pinnacle DS 7 Crossback is the first car in the family to be designed from a clean sheet of paper. The company now plans for a fully electrified and plug-in hybrid range by 2025 under the “E-Tense” badge. DS is also a two-time world champion of the growing Formula E electric-only motorsport series.
In January, PSA announced a 50-50 merger with Fiat Chrysler. The new company, Stellantis, boasts 14 car brands to include the luxury marque Maserati and is now the world’s fourth largest carmaker.