A group of undergraduate and post-graduate Whitecliffe students have taken on the challenge of creating innovative fashion collections that incorporate sustainable design practices. Nicole Wesseling, Samantha Chapman, Courtney Harper, Alana Barnes, Yun Do and Evie Batts are taking their sustainable collections to the public at the 2013 Green Living Expo with a Fashion Show on June 29th at the ASB Show Grounds. The EcoChic Fashion Show is a live catwalk show that will showcase how NZ fashion can move forward into a sustainable market.
Sustainable fashion is a huge challenge that requires significant research into natural materials, resources and fibres as well as demanding a new understanding of deterioration or reuse. These young designers have researched aspects of the environmental impacts of particular fabrics, fibres and even dyes to create their own collections that stem's from personal environment-conscious ideas.
Nicole Wesseling’s collection is based on Zen Buddhism and its connection to wabi sabi and the environment. It focuses on using natural fabrics, dyes and handcrafted processes to visually represent the lifestyle and beliefs within Zen Buddhism.
The shedding of exoskeletons exhibited by arthropods as they increase in size inspires Samantha Chapman’s collection Ecdysis Autumn/Winter 2014. Ecdysis is a response to that disposable social perspective of fashion today with a focus on durability, natural materials and the concept that a garment should become more valuable with age by being infused with memories and shaped by the wearer. All garments are reinforced to endure a long life and contain elements hidden within that will be revealed through wear.
Courtney Harper’s 2013 collection looks at the current state of disconnection within our global culture, and the effects of three key components: consumerism, materialism and mass production. “The main objective of my collection is to uncover ways that we can repair and reconnect, preventing further destruction towards the earth and ourselves. My designs have a strong emphasis on waste reduction, and are made of 100% second-hand fabrics.”
Eco- Hedonism is Alana Barnes’ Spring/ Summer collection primarily based on the idea of the beauty of the natural Earth with an emphasis on the organic. The designs create a new luxury in parallel with nature with a rich use of natural materials. “I have designed my collection with a strong sense of ethics, surrounding issues of sustainability in fashion and textiles.” The key focus in Eco- Hedonism is on using natural fibres and handmade plant dyes; avoiding synthetics, chemicals, and therefore harm to the environment.
The inspiration for Yun Do’s collection Twists S/S12 has origins in traditional Korean clothing and folk paintings of the Chosun era (eighteenth and nineteenth centuries). Traditional dyeing processes using minerals and plants were important in achieving her particular colour palette. The process of aging and the cycle of life are demonstrated in her garments; “the wear, tear and dismantling of the draped fabric displays a paradigm of nature’s flaws after metamorphosis.” Yun Do is also showing a selection of garments created by immigrant women from NZ Somali Women Inc. As part of their enterprise, the group has been working under the direction of Yun Do. These garments were drafted, cut and sewn at their workroom in Onehunga, using Yun's natural dyeing techniques to give an organic undertone with a commercial approach.
Evie Batts’ collection Redeemed focuses on re-using, re-shaping, and re-styling pre-loved clothing into new garments in order to cut back on waste. The collection uses New Zealand designers’ waste fabric and off-cuts, as well as pre-loved garments, to create ethical outfits for all seasons of the year. This saves resources and keeps these used garments from adding to landfill - breathing a new life into fashion’s waste. Alongside Redeemed Evie will be presenting a small collection of outfits from her upcoming Spring/ Summer 2014 collection Yield that delves into the social and environmental factors of the cotton industry. She focuses on the use of natural and renewable fibres such as pineapple, eliminating soil destruction as well as the positive decrease in water use. Evie’s complete Yield collection will be launched at the Whitecliffe Fashion Show in late November.