Mariana Cantu

Second Life

Mariana Cantú, Fashion Merchandising Management ’14, has found a sustainable solution for castoff couture

by Raquel Laneri

Mariana Cantú attended her first fashion shoot as an intern at Italian Vogue in 2014. She immediately fell in love with the energy on set and the exquisite clothes on the models. So, she was shocked to hear that many of the gorgeous gowns and suits created especially for these magazine spreads would never again see the light of day.

“It was just devastating to see that a lot of these pieces were burned or just thrown away,” Cantú says. “These are pieces that are worth like $4,000. I thought, ‘People would die [to own] these pieces.’”

Cantú now runs her own photo production company, MC Colectiva, which coordinates shoots for Vogue Mexico, GQ Russia, L’Officiel Paris, and more. She aims to save these one-of-a-kind garments with her new project, Issue Number One, launching in November. This invitation-only website will sell unique archival designs from luxury brands like Gucci and Valentino that would have been relegated to storage or the trash bin. “These aren’t samples, but pieces that were never sent to production, which are actually the most amazing pieces,” Cantú says. “They were used for red carpet events or editorial purposes.”

Cantú’s production company MC Colectiva has coordinated photoshoots for magazines such as Vogue and L’Officiel.

Cantú believed she could preserve—or breathe new life into—these garments by selling them, but she knew there would be obstacles. “These brands are very, very picky about their exclusivity and who actually buys it,” she says. That’s why she’s made Issue Number One members-only, for an exclusive cadre of VIPs. (Early members include Sally Morrison, director of public relations for De Beers, and Sarah Easley, founder of MaisonMarché.)

Every few weeks, members will receive an email announcing a selection of items from a new brand—and the site will feature garments from only one brand at a time. “We want to treat these as precious limited pieces, exclusive and rare to find,” Cantú says. Most will range between 70 and 90 percent off the projected retail price. (Membership is currently free.) Cantú cares not only about saving beautiful fashion, but also about saving the environment. “The luxury industry has no idea how to be sustainable,” she says. “I saw a niche where there was a problem, and I wanted a solution for it.”