Prince Charles Launches Surprise Sustainable Fashion Line (with a $795 Shirt!)
"I have always believed in the 'Buy once, buy well' philosophy," Prince Charles said
Prince Charles is making his mark on the fashion world.
The royal just unveiled a sustainable clothing collection featuring 10 women's items and eight for men. The Modern Artisan Project, a collaboration between The Prince's Foundation and Yoox Net-a-Porter, sought to promote "high-end textile skills among young craftsmen." Students from Italy's prestigious Politecnico di Milano design school came up with the pieces, which Dumfries House graduates from the U.K. were tasked with manufacturing.
"For me, I have always tried to use my own wardrobe to highlight great craftsmanship, whether that is in the manufacture or, more often these days, the repair of an item," Prince Charles said, according to The Telegraph. "I have always believed in the 'Buy once, buy well' philosophy, so the more I wear them, the more sustainable I hope I become!"
Federico Marchetti, the Chairman and CEO of Yoox Net-a-Porter group, told Town & Country: "The project was born from HRH The Prince of Wales’s and my shared passion for educating and investing in the next generation of talent. Our partnership unites the ancient profession of the artisan—one of the world’s oldest—with cutting edge technology, creating truly modern artisans ready for our changing world."
Each piece is said to inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci — but the stylish sustainable items come with a hefty price tag. A cable-knit cashmere turtleneck sweater is the cheapest piece in the women's collection at $475. At the high end, a belted merino wool and cashmere-blend coat is priced at $1,495. There's also a slim-fit cotton shirt for $795, a checked suit, with the blazer selling for $1,350 and the matching trousers for $1,095.
Prince Charles, 71, has been an environmental advocate for decades, which is part of the reason Marchetti was eager to team up with him.
"It’s a real pleasure to collaborate with HRH The Prince of Wales on this long-term project, as he has been a champion of sustainability for over 50 years," he told Town & Country. "He was already talking about the effects of plastic in 1969, the year I was born! He also has a great interest in our world of fashion, craftsmanship and innovation so throughout the project we found much common ground, from the moment we first met during his visit to our newly opened Yoox Net-a-porter Tech Hub in London, to my proposal for a partnership on this project and the rewarding Modern Artisan journey we’ve all been on since."
The royal recently spoke about the fashion sector's role in conservation with British Vogue editor Edward Enninful.
"I'm one of those people who hate throwing anything away. Hence, I’d rather have them maintained, even patched if necessary, than to abandon them,” Charles said. "The difficulty is, as you get older, you tend to change shape, and it’s not so easy to fit into the clothes."
He added, "I can't bear any waste, including food waste; I'd much rather find another use. Which is why I’ve been going on for so long about the need for a circular economy, rather than a linear one where you just make, take and throw away — which is a tragedy, because inevitably we over-exploit natural resources that are rapidly depleting."
Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!
Prince Charles is true to his word: in fact, the grey morning suit he wore to walk Meghan Markle down the aisle at her 2018 wedding to his son Prince Harry was a piece that's been in his closet since 1984.
When Enninful – who worked closely with Meghan for her British Vogue issue in the summer of 2019 – asked if the royal had considered wearing something new for such an occasion, Prince Charles replied, "I've considered it. But in the case of that particular morning coat, as long as I can go on getting into it, I only wear it a few times a year, in the summer, so obviously you want to keep those sorts of things going."
"But if I can’t fit into them, then I just have to have something new made," he continued. "But I’m not sure quite how radically different they can be at my age."