Thursday, June 28, 2012

Final Class Project - The Challenge

Our final class project (which is due in a week!) is to combine all the different sustainable concepts into one complete "look".  Things I've been asked to consider:

  • Form and function - can it be multi-functional? Does it address sustainability through design?
  • Eco-friendly materials  
  • Zero Waste techniques in pattern making
  • Carbon Footprint of garment production
  • Use of natural or low chemical dyes, eco-friendly notions
  • Life-cycle of the garment - how is it laundered, broken down, recycled?
  • Target market, customer profile
  • Season and trends
  • How to let the customer know about the sustainability of the garment
  • Customer/artisan connection, consumer participation in design
  • Slow design
  • Resolving any waste
  • Up-cycling
  • Garment made for dis-assembly
  • Modified or changed for different functions
  • Keeping strong design principles

These are a lot of components to consider when making a garment. So far I have a design and concept in mind. First I thought about colors and how using the color green could be an obvious tie to sustainability, however I thought that was too cliche. I didn't want to have to use the color green, so instead I chose red - the opposite of green! My concept is about our connection to nature through the color red, which led me to thinking of red barns and the rustic, aged look of wood. I want the clothing to be comfortable and rural feeling, but I want it to be worn by a confident women in the city. 

My mood board
Draper Knitting in Canton MA has generously donated organic and recycled fabric for our class to use for our final project. I've chosen two recycled polyesters to use for my look. I will also up-cycle some fabric for certain components. For example, I'd like to use an old leather bag as piping and a belt for the coat, and an old shirt for the blouse. I plan to make the skirt and the coat out of the fabric from Draper. 

My main sustainable concept is multifunction. I want each garment to have a modular component so it can be worn in different ways. The skirt will be adjustable in height and the blouse will be reversible. For the coat, I will make a removable hood which will then function as a pocketbook. I'm really excited to try and figure out how to make that work! 

I plan to use embroidery on the skirt and origami pleating on the blouse to incorporate slow fashion. I will use the scraps from the skirt pattern as the appliques for the embroidery to eliminate waste. For the coat, I plan to make it a lot less structured than in my first sketches (below). Instead I will drape the coat pattern, which should help cut down on fabric waste. My fabrics already came dyed, so I can't tackle the sustainable dyeing dilemma (and I'm actually incredibly glad that I don't have to). 

Preliminary sketches
I have two sustainability issues that I still need to figure out: 
1. The life cycle of the garment - how it will be laundered and recycled.
2. How to let the customer know that the garment is sustainable. 

Number 2 will be an important challenge. I've always felt that one way for sustainable fashion to gain ground would be for it to have a brand identity. To have some sort of logo on the garment, so that the wearer can show it off. It would be similar to how Abercrombie shirts say "Abercrombie" a zillion times... I think if people could show off the fact that they are wearing sustainable clothing, they would be more likely to spend the money to wear it. This is a little shallow I know, but I believe it is true. I believe this is one of the reasons why hybrid cars are so weird looking (especially the first models). People wanted you to know they were driving a hybrid car, it had to look different so that others would realize what it was and what it meant. When applying this idea to fashion however - I do not want to sacrifice the design for the marketing, so it will be at tricky problem to solve.  

Fun fact: Do you know why barns are painted red?

Many years ago in Europe farmers painted their barns with linseed oil. They combined rust with the oil as a way to kill off moss and mold. Thus red barns which became a tradition! (Some say farmers use to paint with blood from animals, but I'd rather go with the rust theory)

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