Abalonia Koomans O’Reilly is the creator behind sustainable slow fashion brand Re.cut. Based in Ballydehob, the innovative young designer works with upcycled fabrics in her designs, which she sells through online marketplaces Depop and Etsy.
Originally from East Clare, Abalonia was introduced to sustainability at a young age; she attended a Steiner school, which focuses on learning through nature and creativity and grew up on an organic farm with her family.
“My passion lies in creation, which I discovered through fabric and costume,” she says. “I enjoy working with my hands, especially when it comes to re-envisioning things, be that old furniture or clothes.
“I’ve always loved being in nature and was brought up to respect and take care of it. My parents were always conscious of having a low environmental impact.”
Today, Abalonia combines her love for nature with her passion for creation in making unique pieces from colourful and patterned upcycled fabric.
After studying costume design through a two year course in ICFE, she went on to work in costume on various jobs and found work styling for events, adverts and creating art installations.
“I always knew I wanted to create and design. As a child I really enjoyed any opportunity to dress up,” she explains, “…I didn’t really follow modern fashion though, I was more passionate about textiles and vintage clothing and costume.”
A great devotee of charity shops, which has fed her passion for textiles and unique textures, Abalonia first started Re.cut as a way to use fabric scraps she had saved from college. “I have always been interested in patchwork and mosaic so this was the basis of the style I created the garments in.
“The first piece I made was a bomber jacket, since then I’ve started making bumbags, sweatshirts, t-shirts, shirts, and earrings. Most of these designs evolved as a way to use particular fabrics. For example I was given a load of damaged shirts so I made some patchwork shirts as a way of upcycling the fabric.”
Sustainability is the bedrock of Abalonia’s business. “The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters and there’s no need for the amount of clothing that is being produced and thus the amount of waste created,” she says passionately. “Most clothes also aren’t made to last now, and a lot of people don’t see the worth in repairing them.”
Her own wardrobe is an eclectic assemblage of clothes she has been gathering for years…vintage or secondhand. “I love a statement piece of clothing that you know no one else has,” she admits.
The materials that Abalonia uses in Re.cut come from offcuts of fabric, mostly given to her by different makers and friends. She also takes apart and upcycles secondhand clothing. “People give me their damaged or unwanted clothing and I find bits on bargain rails in charity shops.”
Abalonia’s ambition is to use her costume skills to create outfits for performances and installations.
She also hopes to set up her own website, see her products stocked in “bricks and mortar shops” and collaborate with some local friends to run craft nights, focusing on upcycling and mending.
Her big aspiration for the future though is to be part of creating a community art space in West Cork, where people can meet and learn crafts or have access to tools and workshop spaces.
Find her on instagram @re.cut or on Depop and Etsy.