Traditional efforts to reuse, repurpose and upcycle cast-off clothes into something worth selling has a tendency to result in a product not too far removed – in value or desirability – from the original discarded duds. That’s precisely why the recently unveiled high-end partnership between L.A.-based furniture maker Stephen Kenn and local menswear label Longjourney is so surprising – and covetable.
Introduced at a recent party at the J.F. Chen Gallery on North Highland Avenue (which included a performance by members of the Ate9 dance company decked out in Longjourney threads), the collaboration includes a pair of black leather armchairs (retail price $5,500 each) and an olive-drab cloth-covered sofa ($11,000) that marry the considerable talents of both brands.
Kenn’s spare-yet-luxe take on furniture design seems to get a deeper, almost intimate, back story thanks to the considerable contributions of Longjourney, a several-year-old label founded by Alonzo Ester and Alex Carapetian that crafts traditional menswear silhouettes – bomber jackets, roomy T-shirts, button-front shirts and trousers – out of painstakingly rehabilitated and repurposed vintage fabrics.
From afar, the pieces appear to be stylish and modern versions of standard-issue living room furniture. But, upon closer examination, the upholstery covering the chairs is recognizable as patchworked panels from vintage black leather motorcycle jackets. And, while you’d have absolutely no way of knowing it, the eight cushions covering the polished black nickel sofa frame began life as an armload of sweatshirts and tent canvas before being washed, dyed, combed and waxed into a second career, and that some of the frame’s supporting straps are repurposed straps from military parachutes.
While the meticulously upcycled pieces in the Stephen Kenn X Longjourney collaboration might come with a slightly higher price tag than Kenn’s other furniture offerings (a similarly sized canvas sofa costs $6,900 for example, and a leather armchair clocks in at $3,600), it does take the notion of couch surfing in sweats to a whole new – and finally fashion-acceptable – level.