The Centre for Sustainable Fashion is the London College of Fashion’s hub for a holistic, interdisciplinary, multi-level approach towards design for sustainability, relating to fashion. Since 2008, with the Fashioning the Future Awards, the Centre has been offering students the opportunity to submit their ideas for innovation in sustainable fashion, fast becoming the leading international student competition in the field and attracting entries from all over the world. This week, guests from the areas of fashion, business and sustainable living gathered for the annual awards ceremony, hosted by Caryn Franklin. The Green Stylist was invited to report on the deserving winning projects, which offered a refreshing wealth of ideas of truly innovative calibre.
Up first was the award for UNIQUE BALANCE.
The winner was Sara Emilie Terp Hansen from Denmark for her beautiful collection made of cork. She explains: “The time has come to re-think the materials we use to make our clothes: we are heavily dependent on a tiny number of fibres to supply all our fashion needs, and there are many opportunities to offer alternatives using creative innovation.” Sara Emilie Terp Hansen has taken cork, a material usually associated with the wine industry, and given it a fashion forward application. Cork proved to be flexible, waterproof, warm, naturally unique and extremely durable: a perfect solution for practical outerwear with a surprising and engaging aesthetic. Cork is also easily recyclable and biodegradable and so as well as having great durability in the first life of the garment, it offers excellent potential for re-use and re-purposing.
The second award for UNIQUE MATERIALS AND PROCESSES went to Evelyn Lebis from Sweden.
Evelyn explored the role of technology in our clothing. When technology and fashion effectively interact, new possibilities emerge; clothes can respond to their wearers; moods emotions and movement. Evelyn worked with engineers to develop e-textile technology which responds to the wearers movements. In the future this technology could be applied in every day wear offering a creative and interactive approach to fashion that challenges the conventions of function and form in fashion design. The process also explored the possibilities that can emerge when scientists, engineers and fashion designers work together.
The third award of the night, UNIQUE ENTERPRISE went to Alice Payne from Australia, for her concept ‘Think Lifecycle’ which allows organisations to harness the ideas and approaches of different departments and employees, allowing big companies with complex structures to re-think the way they work, to address issues of social and environmental sustainability.
The ThinkLifecycle content management system (CMS) would create new industry practices, in which sustainability is at the forefront of commercial thinking. Its chief aim is to embed lifecycle thinking within a company at a daily, operational level. Through adding comments, ideas and research to the main knowledge base, all actors within a company can contribute to the ways their company can innovate for a more sustainable industry.
The fourth award, for UNIQUE COMMUNICATIONS, was presented to Christian Frank Muller from Germany, who won for his innovative hybrid repair and customisation model +ADD and+REPAIR. Christian explains his concept: “+REPAIR is a service that repairs damaged clothes – the ones that carry memories for the wearer, and that, once worn out, will end up in a corner of the wardrobe, no longer acceptable to wear, but too loved to be thrown away.” +REPAIR individually mends and returns the bespoke garment to its owner. But instead of an ordinary mending service, +REPAIR will point explicitly to where something was changed, repaired or improved, with bright red thread, a red +REPAIR button, red fleece, etc. making all repairs apparent to everyone. The +REPAIR logo will then embroidered or printed on the garment, and a detailed description of the repair ironed or sewn on the inside, with details about the process. In addition to +REPAIR, there is +ADD, for extra improvements like new pockets or a hood. The description will be added to the garment, and the +ADD logo in royal blue.
The fifth category UNIQUE DESIGN, was presented by Head of London College of Fashion Professor Frances Corner OBE who said: “Ironically the Design category was one of the most difficult to judge; it’s very hard not to fixate on the idea that the winning entry had to be a perfectly realised garment. However we asked participants to question the current status quo, so we decided on a winner who offered us the unexpected. There were no garments to look at or to feel, rather the winning entry questioned the role of a fashion designer in modern society, and the relationship we all have with the clothing we wear.”
The winner was Lara Torres from Portugal. She explains: “As a designer in today’s industry, it’s critical to be aware of the fast and destructive nature of existing production models. For this project I used a video installation as medium to communicate ideas relating to the inherent disposability of so many of the things we buy. I wanted to put an important question to the fashion industry and consumer; if fashion is so transient and disposable then why shouldn’t it be truly disposable?”
The final award of the night was The Body Shop One to Watch Recognition Award.
The winner was Ashley Brock, who showed how old garments can be re-purposed on a potentially industrial scale using a very simple pattern piece that can be scaled up and scaled down.
Ashley said: “Upcycling is a fantastic way to create sustainable new garments from existing ones, but it has its own production challenges. My goal was to create a fresh, new, scalable approach to upcycling – by creating a single pattern piece in 3 different sizes, that is interlocking to maximize reuse, and that can be cut from just about anything. My concept is designed to be scalable, so it can be built into a larger business, rather than just a small niche production, while still maintaining its ecological and aesthetic integrity.
All 6 winners received a cash prize, as well as the recognition for innovation in sustainability from the fashion industry.
All the shortlisted pieces will be showcased at an exhibition which will be open to the public from Friday 11th – Sunday 13th November 2011 in the East Wintergarden at Canary Wharf, London. It will be a beautiful representation of how solutions to some of the world’s toughest environmental imperatives will come from the next generation of designers.
All images courtesy of Sustainable Fashion – Fashioning the Future.