Despite being a small brand, AIR PANGEA has some very big goals – namely to encourage the fashion industry to get serious about tackling climate change. In the wake of the recent COP26 summit, it’s time to face up to hard truths such as the fact that producing just one cotton T-shirt can take up to 2,700 litres of water and that the UK alone sends over 1 million tonnes of clothing to landfill per year.
The fashion brand and fictitious airline, AIR PANGEA, was founded in 2019 by stylist and photographer Leila Afghan and her friend Rhi Connell. For each collection, they draw inspiration from the native materials and mythologies of certain geographical locations. They focus on championing local communities across the globe through committed collaboration, and deliberately work slowly, avoiding the ‘fast fashion’ economy through traditional processes and conscious production of exclusive, limited runs made from natural, recycled and deadstock materials.
Their brand-new AW21 capsule collection takes us on a mythical journey to Eastern Europe without the need for pollutive air travel. It explores Lithuania’s pagan roots, reverence for nature, and a nationally recognized love of basketball. Afghan originally visited Lithuania when she was invited to exhibit photos in Vilnius and fell in love with the country, she comments “when I went there, I thought it was such a beautiful place, and that more people should learn about its culture.” In the spirit of genuine partnership and appreciation of native eastern-European creative culture, the Lookbook images were shot by Lithuanian artists Deimante Sprainaityte, Paulius Janusonis and AboveGround.
The garments were created in collaboration with Lithuanian brands Trexus, Bernot Caps and Pure Terror Corporation. The cross-culture partnerships have allowed AIR PANGEA to learn from and incorporate new sustainable techniques used elsewhere, for example, Bernot Caps create hats from vintage jackets to avoid material wastage. For this drop, they co-created a Brimless Five-Panel Cap made from a trench coat. Aware of the dangerous polluting impact of materials containing plastics, AIR PANGEA has committed to a zero plastics policy from production to packaging and their fabrics are created from exclusively natural fibres.
The collection itself blends the youthful nonchalance of skate culture, the timelessness of tailoring, and complex hidden meanings related to Lithuanian history. The decorative Neo-Pagan Silk scarf, made in collaboration with Pure Terror Corporation, and the water-resistant camel skirt stand out as highlights. The lookbook breaths a careless revelry that belies the detailed innovative craftsmanship and the historic tales that dominate this brand’s every decision. For example, the collection features punky tie-dye basketball kits designed by Trexus and inspired by The Grateful Dead having funded the Lithuanian Basketball teams expenses and kitted them out in tie-dye fits when the country was unable to afford to participate in the 1992 Olympics after the fall of the USSR. That year, the team went on to win Bronze.
Alongside the garments, they are also releasing a magical candle made from beeswax and amber. As it burns, the natural beeswax emits a honey scent while the amber creates a delicate pine tree resin aura reminiscent of the abundant Lithuanian forests. The amber is used in ode to an old Lithuanian Folktale, it tells the story of a young farm girl who married the King of Snakes and lived under the sea in a palace made of Amber. Afghan hopes that the brand, and the stories it seeks to tell, encourage acceptance and a desire to look outward in a time of increasing nationalism, she argues “it is important to celebrate all cultures and be reminded that we must positively co-exist together while respecting and treasuring our differences.”