Hyundai Debuted Sustainable Capsule Collection with Zero + Maria Cornejo

Hyundai Debuted Sustainable Capsule Collection with Zero + Maria Cornejo

The South Korean car manufacturer is teaming up with noted sustainable fashion evangelist Maria Cornejo to turn leftover leather from car seats into ready-to-wear fashion.

The South Korean car manufacturer is teaming up with noted sustainable fashion evangelist Maria Cornejo to turn leftover leather from car seats into ready-to-wear fashion.

Text: Ryan Killian Krause

Earlier this week, Hyundai motors company hosted their NYFW event Re:Style in collaboration with Zero + Maria Cornejo during which they debut their capsule collection crafted from upcycled Hyundai Motor car seat leather. The event was held at PUBLIC Kitchen in the PUBLIC Hotel. 

New York notables, celebrities and fashion industry insiders all came out to celebrate the partnership including actress Sarah Jessica Parker, actress Rowan Blanchard, musicians Rainey Qualley and Bec Adams, stylist Ty Hunter, Miss J Alexander and more.

Each look in the 15-piece collection was designed by Zero + Maria Cornejo, a brand rooted in using ecological and sustainable fabrics wherever possible. The materials used in the collection will utilize leftover Hyundai Transys car seat leather fabrics, well as up-cycled Zero + Maria Cornejo fabrics, including a 100% organic cotton Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold Dylan denim, reimagined in entirely new shapes and silhouettes.

“The whole idea is to do something creative with things that have had a life before,” says Maria Cornejo. “It’s about making something new and re-imagining things. Re-create, re-imagine, re-cycle. How do we get creative with less?” 

In addition to the capsule collection, Hyundai and Zero + Maria Cornejo have also designed a run of limited-edition t-shirts that will be sold in-store and on Zero + Maria Cornejo’s website.

When it came time for Hyundai to chose a fashion partner, Cornejo was the natural choice. “We were looking for a talented designer with a deep understanding and commitment to sustainability. Maria Cornejo made perfect sense,” said Sungwon Jee, Vice President & Head of Creative Works of Hyundai Motor Company. “Besides her timeless and well-respected designs, Maria’s long-term commitment to local manufacturing and responsible design practices has stewarded and catalyzed conversations of change in the fashion industry for decades. The philosophy of Maria Cornejo perfectly fits with our brand vision for sustainability.”

Hyundai gave Cornejo full creative control of the line. “We truly wanted to see how she would re-use and re-style what was otherwise considered waste. We love that she wants to ‘get creative with less,’” said Jee.

The collaboration is another step towards Hyundai Motor Company making an impact in sustainability and lessening their eco-footprint, as evidenced by the recent debut of Hyundai NEXO, its first dedicated fuel cell electric vehicle that produces zero carbon emissions. The company has also worked with the BBC on a series titled “Innovators of Tomorrow” which shares innovators’ vision for a better future as well as sponsoring various global initiatives including a Sustainable Water Circulation Project in the Philippines and a Dream Village Project improving the underdeveloped villages in Chennai, India.

Hyundai is aiming to create its own platform that presents its brand vision to consumers in a stylish way, and the Re:Style event is only the beginning. The company intends to expand its platform to include not only fashion but also music, the environment, sports, and beyond.

V caught up with Cornejo to learn more about the sustainable collaboration.

Motor companies and fashion labels aren’t a typical duo. How did the idea of designing a capsule collection with Hyundai first come about? 

MC: Both fashion and the automotive industries have a long way to go in terms of their environmental impact and I truly believe that collaboration is the way forward. This particular partnership helps amplify both our voices on an issue we are committed to; sustainability. I love the opportunity to collaborate and am always striving to help shed light on ways we can all do better and work with less.

Where did you draw inspiration as you collaborated in designing this collection? 

MC: I was inspired by getting creative with less and re-imagining what was otherwise considered waste textiles into something desirable and wearable.

How would you describe the collection with Hyundai in comparison to your previous collections? 

MC: Each collaboration is different. This one was so exciting because I love getting creative with less.

As a brand rooted in sustainable practices, what challenges did you face while designing this collection and what opportunities were you given as you worked with Hyundai in keeping it eco-friendly? 

MC: Working with a heavier leather, which is car seat waste, that wasn’t intended for clothing was a challenge. It really forced us to narrow down our textiles that would pair well with the car seat waste and see how we could incorporate the waste in a creative way. I didn’t want them to read as car seat waste, and I am really happy with the way the final garments came out. To keep it eco- friendly, Hyundai did a great job reducing shipping and working with us to ensure unnecessary textiles weren’t sent. It was also great that we were able to utilize excess yardage from our production. We do our best not to create waste and will often find creative ways to re-use any leftover textiles. This fit in perfectly with our ethos.

After the fashion week debut, what’s next for this duo? 

MC: We’ll have to see! It’s been a great experience to collaborate, and I’m sure there are great opportunities in the future.

Maria Cornejo, Dean Evans

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