by Madison Paloski
BUSHLAND is no stranger to RUiN Mag. Featured in our very first print issue, BUSHLAND tells the story of the rural youth. Made for those who shout their ideas with no one to hear, their website calls them, “a story about the isolated pockets of humans that think bigger than everyone around them.” Known for pushing the ideas of tomorrow and rejecting the white picket fence to blaze their own trail, BUSHLAND is back with a new collection, MY KINDLING.
This collection, like many others for Joshua Michna, the brand’s Creative Director, and Designer, was inspired by many different sources. One was the outdoors. Michna finds himself frequently walking around outside with a notebook in hand, exploring the relationship between humans and nature.
The sign of the times was another big inspiration for Michna. Feeling isolated and urging to rebel against the quarantine status quo were feelings that Michna also brought into his inspiration and designs.
“The meaning of the collection overall was to get people together to just have fun in these trying times. It’s about isolation, sneaking out, and meeting up at night in their favorite clothes as a kind of escape to what is going on,” Michna said.
It was also a study of the relationship between nature and technology. “Those are really the two main places I find myself these days,” said Michna. “It’s either outside in nature, or inside working on projects. And technology is incorporated with every part of our daily lives.” This digital connection is the inspiration for the printed graphics in this collection.
Subtle statements are something that is extremely important to the brand itself, many of which can be found in the resources used for this collection. This season’s collection was the first time Michna found himself buying wholesale fabric instead of exclusively reclaimed items from second hand stores. This fabric consisted of organic cotton and hemp in several different textiles.
Michna said, “I think we can’t have brands anymore- especially youth brands coming up- that don't operate by strict environmental standards. They have to be strict with themselves and be openly honest and transparent with people. One of my goals is just to be honest with people.”
MY KINDLING is BUSHLAND’s most environmentally-friendly collection to date. However, with the goal to be honest and open, Michna explains that this collection uses bleach for the chenille textile garments. Bleach isn’t as sustainable as hydrogen peroxide, which BUSHLAND plans to explore in the future.
The goal is to be transparent so that customers know the impact of the clothing they wear, and can shop elsewhere if they don’t feel comfortable with the manufacturing process. Being open drives BUSHLAND towards a fully sustainable collection in the future. The 100% organic cotton is a major step in the right direction. The idea is that if it is put in a landfill, it's natural and will biodegrade as opposed to polyester.
“Wholesale t-shirt companies do a lot of greenwashing and label their products as eco- friendly, even when they’re only 5% recycled polyester. Some of the standards are so low for textiles to be classified as environmentally friendly -- it’s ridiculous.”
Although wholesale fabrics were used, Michna did not retire the idea of upcycled garments in this collection. Michna reclaimed jeans found at second hand stores, bleached them, dyed them naturally, and combined them to create the chenille textile garments in the collection.
Natural dye had been a huge experiment for the brand throughout this collection. The natural dye of black walnuts is one of the strongest natural dyes, and was used for several garments.
Michna explained, “The shell contains tannin which is a mordant, allowing the natural color to stay longer and dyes stronger in a range of browns. I was aiming for a dark brown but natural dyes are always an experiment, so I got tan colors and some nice beige colors instead.”
After researching textiles, Michna conceptualized what he wanted each outfit to be. He wanted a sense of unity. Unlike past seasons where he chose one model, he deliberately wanted more models to showcase several outfits. He also deliberately chose garments for the models that would be relevant socially, featuring guys in crop tops and skirts to add more subtle commentary.
Although the main inspiration came from rebelling against the quarantine status quo, Michna wanted to make sure that his brand was still staying COVID protocol friendly. Unable to do the ideas quite like how he wanted to, he arranged to have the video shoot in an open auditorium with a green screen, following the distancing standards of the facility.
Although the collection doesn’t officially launch until November 27th, BUSHLAND wanted to put the collection into the people’s hands first for an exclusive look.
“Living on a college campus, the food is served in brown takeout bags. Even though they will biodegrade, I still wanted to make use of the general waste, so I collected bags over a period of time. I made my own paper by blending the bags down and creating paper pulp, which I used to make a thicker brown paper. The images of the collection were pasted on this paper and mailed to anyone who wanted one as a way to get an exclusive look before the public.”
The collection consists of ten items made with organic cotton, hemp, and reclaimed materials: black and white tees, black beanies, thermal tanks, thermal crop tops, skirts made of reclaimed denim, french terry hoodies, a walnut-dyed chenille jacket made of reclaimed denim, two different walnut-dyed chenille jeans made of reclaimed denim, and metal pins.