How to reduce waste in the fashion design process?

The three Rs of fashion: How to reduce waste in the fashion design process? A group of students try to find the answer

Fashion is all about telling stories through clothing, and when done responsibly it becomes sustainable. Simply put, it is the use of environmentally friendly practices in the design, manufacture, distribution and consumption of clothing.

Over the years, the fashion industry has overtaken its production. The time that a garment is worn before being discarded has decreased by 40%. Thrown clothes are either burned or dumped in landfills. Of what is collected for recycling, about 12% will end up being made into insulation or cleaning fabric, or shredded and used to stuff mattresses. Less than 1% will be used to make new clothes.

The Cloakroom: a symbol of what can be done with waste.

The Cloakroom: a symbol of what can be done with waste. | Photo credit: Special arrangement

Even when the pandemic hit in 2020, this dire situation raised pertinent questions about our priorities and what we choose as fashion designers of the future. On the founding day of our college, we decided to showcase our responsible creativity. “The Changing Room,” as we have called the 25-foot clothing installation, tries to pose the topical question of need versus desire. We conceptualized, designed and created the enormous garment with the waste of the industry, while following the principles of environmentally friendly fashion.

Our team also included the entire promotion for the fifth semester of B.Des Fashion. We started by collecting garment waste from the fashion design lab. The idea came from our mentor, Archana Surana, and took shape from the question of how waste introduced specifically into the fashionable education design process, in the form of models and testing d ‘fit, can be better processed.

Recycle to create something new

Fit tests accumulated over time were salvaged, clothing separated, and piles of muslin brought in from stockpile to usefully aid our creativity. From blouses and pants, to shirts, tops and skirts, every fit test has been used to shape the bodice.

Placing the garment scraps was like putting together a puzzle, using the process to define the flow of the garment. What we liked most was the way the skirt was used to cover the torso, giving it an old retro-western style. After positioning the back and front of the setup, we sat down to sew the garment. The interior design students also helped make a proportionate wooden structure, along with the hanging cables and chains to support the weight when we hung the finished work.

“The Locker Room” was hung on a corner of the highest point of the front facade of the college building for two weeks so that the world could see how creativity comes out of the trash. Obviously, the use of clothing waste reduces dependence on natural resources and also minimizes the chances of fashion ending up in the landfill. In these times of conscious consumerism, operating responsibly, combined with creativity in design, can help us have a new purpose to work towards a more sustainable fashion future.

The writers are fashion design students at Arch College of Design and Business


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Joseph E. Golightly