Fashion and Textile Design

Responsible Apparel / Materials

Fashion and Textile Design, that follows Responsible Design thinking and practice is exciting, usually practical, very creative, simple or complex, hi or low tech and often stretches the boundaries of what’s possible. It is so far from predictable or boring that your apology is accepted if you didn’t realise this already. What combination of long-lasting, low-embodied energy, natural, non-polluting, non-toxic, recyclable, innovative, circular economy, bio-mimicry & local can you best adapt to your designs or design purchases?

Some say Responsible Fashion and Textile Design is the pinnacle of design and fashion together, recognising what’s feasible, appropriate, possible, marketable and real may be something that happens quickly or over some time through many experimentations and iterations. The results are like all good design, there to admire, enjoy, use, critique and improve. This is the challenge and SRD aims to help, inspire and educate in every way we are able. Consider these ideas…

  • Aim to make long lasting clothing  The more durable a garment the greater the timespan before replacement is needed, less resources are used
  • Strive to design clothing with classic lines  Fashion styles are transient fads which require constant redundancy, classic styling equals a long life
  • Consider the use of recycled materials with a high Post Consumer Waste (PCW) recycled content  PET drink bottles recycled into polyester yarns, charity shop discards shredded to make new yarn, rubber tyres into shoe soles
  • Consider the use of natural renewable materials  Fibres like Cotton, Wool and Silk are renewable unlike virgin synthetics which are a by-product of non renewable fossil fuel extraction
  • Consider the use of unbleached materials  Bleaching requires the use of toxins which are harmful to marine and water based life
  • Consider the use of chemical free natural materials  Cotton, for example, is often processed using toxic formaldehyde to reduce shrinkage and wrinkling
  • Consider the use of undyed materials  Many dyes leach heavy metals into groundwater and waterways during production, home washing and landfill disposal
  • Consider the use of naturally coloured materials  Green and Brown cotton can grown without dyeing, Wool can be naturally black, grey, brown, fawn and ecru
  • Consider wherever possible using organic materials  Organic fibres are grown without the heavy use of potentially toxic synthetic insecticides, herbicides and fertiliser
  • Consider the use of natural renewable components  Buttons and Jewellery can be made from Tagua nuts from the Amazon rainforest. Plantation wood buttons as well
  • Consider the use of recycled and/or recyclable components  Recycled PET cords, labels, webbings and 100% polyester recyclable zippers. Also recycled glass as buttons & toggles
  • Investigate alternative fibre sources  Hemp can be grown organically and has the strength of polyester, Tencel is plantation pulp extruded through a recycled solvent process
  • Maximise fabric yields and minimise fabric wastage by carefully checking layplans & garment Design  Extravagant pattern shapes can lead to a high amount of unwanted material which is then thrown away
  • Consider laying up with cardboard patterns instead of using computer generated layplan paper Computer Aid  Manufacture needs new throwaway paper plans every time a new cut is done, cardboard can be used over & over
  • Design functional garments  Pockets that can actually be used and are not for affect, ornamental components avoided , sized for comfort not vanity, etc.
  • Use synthetic dyes which are colourfast or completely biodegradable if natural based dyes  Coloured dyes can leach out during fabric/garment dyeing and washing contaminating waterways

MSLK’s little “Green Fashion Glossary” in 3 sections: 1. Green Design Terminology Basic terms and processes across sustainable design 2. Green Fashion Terminology fashion specific terminology, including eco-friendly fibers 3. Alarming Facts & Alternatives on fashion industry’s responsibility, hazardous chemicals & more

  • If you must use synthetic materials aim to use homogeneous (all the same) materials  For example some garments are 100% polyester, including labels, trims and thread so they can be recycled without contaminants
  • If using natural materials consider using all naturals  It should be possible to compost 100% natural garments, especially unbleached, organic materials, after their long useful life
  • Ask their material suppliers to provide a comprehensive background on the fabrics and trim  Exhibiting interest in the technical and environmental history of a suppliers materials keeps them aware of their products shortcomings
  • Provide concise information on material content and care/laundering on permanent garment labelling  Educated customers will value their garments and treat them with respect which will lead to longer useful garment life
  • Avoid use of materials or construction detailing that requires special laundering  Dry-cleaning, for example, is an expensive process which uses toxic solvents, such as hydrocarbons which are linked to ozone depletion
  • Educate both retail and end use customers on the environmental benefits of their designs  Customers once educated will demand, or at least expect, the same high environmental standards from other garment designers
  • Investigate methods of reducing materials waste in the production process  Short roll ends can be sold to staff, clean cutting scraps given to Reverse Garbage for school projects, natural fabric scraps composted
  • Keep informed of the latest environmental developments in materials, components and manufacture  New technologies and rediscoveries of old techniques for green design are occurring constantly

10 years of Ethical Fashion : On the 10 year anniversary of the Ethical Fashion Forum’s incorporation, Founder and CEO Tamsin Lejeune reflects on her work in this sector and the huge opportunities ahead for the next decade. 10-huge-opportunities-for-sustainable-fashion-business

Ecochic Design Awards : Environmentally friendly fashion shows promoting that eco fashion must become more ecologically and socially sustainable. A confluence of culture to showcase sustainable fashion design by emerging design talent confirming the significant global trend toward greener design  www.ecochicdesignaward.com : HKChina

Eco Fashion Week : Sustainability TV  event focused on high fashion, minimum footprint creations. Becoming the new ‘norm’, eco fashion shows how we may follow the latest trends while working towards best green practice ideals for all sourcing, materials, production and end use by intentionally factoring in all these parameters at the start. Videos :: Boulder, Colorado, USA

It’s time clothing designers demand sustainable fabrics :: When designers & brand buyers select the fabrics that will be used in future seasons, it becomes clear for a moment what a big impact these choices can have on the supply chain. “Designers have a lot of responsibility”… treehugger article Jul 2014

Responsible Design in Fashion has many facets and faces, a few of them are shown as examples below. Our first fashion find, Rachael Cassar, from ChangeX 07 exemplifies deconstruction and reconstruction with astute theatrical panache. SRD featured Rachael in our interview with Radio National and got a feature photo in the Sydney Morning Herald. Soon after exhibiting with us, Rachael won a highly contested International award from Italy, featured in exclusive runways and was named an International Designer to watch. Recognising the potential of materials and pieces to be reused and repurposed is certainly a special skill to develop for the creative eye. (Pic 1 & 2)

Responsible Design in Fashion from SRD Change 10 Rita (Xiao Yi Zhu) in her Make Me Me series uses intelligent layering and knitwear that has less wastage to arrive at a style that’s season to season. Combining ethical thought and action through the use of organic, quality fabrics, craftsmanship and local production. (Pic 3)

Another SRD Change 10 example is Jessica Robertson with her very tasteful combination of materials and techniques in her ‘Slow Palette’ series. In opposition to mass production and consumption her work displaying techniques, products and practices that are traditional, sustainable and ethical; specifically Local, Transparent and Collaborative. (Pic 4)