style file: Mats Rombaut Keeps It Honest

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thumbnail Mats Rombaut Keeps It Honest
Oct 9th 2013, 22:15, by Katharine K. Zarrella

Honest By. x by Mats Rombaut

The models in Honest By.’s campaign for its collaboration with Mats Rombaut are—save some derby shoes—stark naked. “It all has to do with the Honest By. name—we’re only selling shoes in this collection. So we had to be honest about that,” offered the brand’s founder, Bruno Pieters.

Fair enough—after all, Pieters—who took a hiatus from fashion after retiring his eponymous label in 2011—launched Honest By. last January on a platform of sustainability and transparency. “The idea when I came back to fashion was to use it as a tool for change,” said Pieters. “Fashion is something that can inspire people, consciously or unconsciously, and that’s the goal with Honest By.” The sustainable aspect is a given—all the wares Honest By. offers are eco-conscious. And transparency comes into play with the price breakdown. Pieters clearly explains to his customers how much it costs to produce each garment or accessory.

In addition to a mainline designed by Pieters, Honest By. commissions wares from emerging talents—like Nicolas Andreas Taralis and Heaven Tanudiredja—in an effort to help introduce them onto the international scene. His latest project features on-the-rise Belgian-born, Paris-based sustainable footwear designer Mats Rombaut.

Honest By. x by Mats Rombaut

Having premiered his men’s range last January and his women’s collection during the Spring ’14 shows in Paris, 26-year-old Rombaut already has a pretty impressive résumé—he did stints at Lanvin and Damir Doma before breaking out on his own. But, being a vegetarian, he didn’t love the idea of working with leather. “At [one house], I was in charge of all the leather goods, which was everything I didn’t stand for,” he admitted. “And for myself, I felt like I couldn’t find anything [sustainable]. Everything I came across on the market was not really fashionable, so I thought I could make a difference.”

Indeed, he’s honed a luxe, clean, hyper-minimal aesthetic—one would never know that the black or silver shoes, which he constructed from Ugandan tree bark, natural latex from the Amazon, and coconut fiber, were eco-friendly. As for his rich tints and finishes, they’re made with aluminum powder as well as pigments from trees and plants. Starting at 630 euros, Rombaut’s two styles of Honest By. kicks debut exclusively here ahead of their launch on the brand’s Web site tomorrow. And Rombaut has plenty more on the horizon. Already stocked at Comme des Garçons in Tokyo and soon to be sold at Odd in New York, the ambitious up-and-comer is aiming to expand into bags and accessories and has a sustainable synthetics line coming out in January. “There are so many possibilities,” he said of his upcoming venture. “There’s a lot to look forward to.”

—Katharine K. Zarrella

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