LilyEve began as a way to raise money for COVID-19 relief in 2020. At the start of the pandemic Lily Clempson was living with her parents and wanted to do something to help. Her mother had 4 Hermès towels lying around and, not knowing their value or that were passed down to her from her mother, she decided to cut them up and make them into facemasks. After they went viral on Instagram, she was inundated with orders and ended up raising $10,000 for Food Bank for New York City.

Needing to expand beyond her kitchen table, Hamptons-based Clempson (then 23 year’s old) was asking around locally for someone to help her with production. Someone gave her Michel Cantin’s number, through the local fish shop, a then 86-year-old former couture designer and spritely longtime resident of Springs - not quite who she expected to meet. He had a full working studio in the basement of his house and an incredible background in fashion.

Fast-forward three years and their unexpected but instant bond created the foundations for LilyEve which now produces a full collection of upcycled garments and accessories, fashioned from Hermès towels, blankets and scarves sourced from resale sites, auction houses and estate sales.

Lily’s family are now Michel’s primary caregivers. His partner Wayne, passed away 12 years ago and he lives alone.

Over 30 years ago, Michel and Wayne owned a successful womenswear shop in East Hampton where they sold Michel’s couture suits, jackets and dresses. LilyEve now modifies his vintage jacket patterns.

Since buying a LilyEve piece is at a luxury price point, the brand want to emphasise the investment aspect. The jackets have a timeless shape to them so they can be passed down through generations. My favourites have to be the Blanket series!

Blue Circus Jacket

Unlike larger fashion brands, they have no leftover fabrics. Every inch of the towel or blanket is used for hats, bags, pockets etc. While Michel continues to make all of the brand’s hero products, all accessory production, made from off-cut fabrics, is outsourced to Brooklyn-based ethical production studio Panâh Project.

Sourcing remains the number one challenge as bulk-buying is not possible. Clempson’s dream is to collaborate with large luxury brands, taking their deadstock fabrics and re-purposing them while reducing waste on a global scale.

By Anna Bance
January 2024