Incorporating Sustainability in Design Practice
By Alma Karlin Sivec:Despite the fact that ‘sustainability’ is becoming a big fashion trend, very few clothing companies are actually implementing necessary environmentally and socially responsible solutions. Greenwashing has become a marketing strategy that encourages people to continue buying and discarding clothes at an unsustainable rate. I was completely overwhelmed after learning how many aspects have to be taken into consideration when talking about responsible production. But having overcome the initial feeling of hopelessness, I wanted to share my journey towards responsible and relevant design.It all started with a project on a summer fashion course at Parsons School of Design where I discovered different criteria connecting environmental responsibility and fashion. Because I was only required to produce one garment that had to be creative rather than durable, the most appropriate approach was using repurposed fabric. Even though the second-hand dress I bought was not made with environmentally friendly processes, dyes, or materials, reusing it did not produce additional waste or require chemical treatments. I deconstructed the dress into its basic parts and sewed them together according to my new pattern design, which was a basic square with a slice for an opening. This way very little waste in the form of off-cuts was produced and the created garment was easily adjustable or deconstructed for reuse. Using such a simple pattern also allowed me to add straps for gathering edges and adjusting the garment to wear it in different ways – giving it a multi functional quality. The straps I used were newly bought and not reused, but they were easily removable and reusable. THE CREATIVE PROCESS:In approaching new projects, I will aim to refine the balance between the aesthetic component of the garment and its (multi)functionality. Future challenges will also include making patterns that are easily mendable, customizable, and disassembled for reuse. Because using repurposed fabric reduces the durability of a garment it would be interesting to explore making durable materials out of recycled fabrics in energy and resource efficient ways.Despite being a small-scale project, it considers the whole life cycle of a garment and shows that criteria used to design responsibly do not inhibit but stimulate creativity and innovation - they urge designers to redefine the out-dated garment-production methods in a way to make them relevant for the new millennium. On a global level that means creating a restorative rather than a destructive industrial system. Alma Karlin Sivec studied Fashion in the 2017 Parsons Summer Intensive Studies program.