You guys know that we’re facing a crucial time of change on the planet, right? And you know the fashion industry is the second largest global polluter, right? This is partly due to the waste being generated during the process of creating garments.

In order to start thinking sustainably about our fashion we need to look to our designers. In countries where resources such as fabrics and textiles are scarce, designers/makers/manufacturers are exploring more sustainable ways to fully utilize the materials they have available. Any product they have left over they consider an opportunity, an additional resource. This is exactly what we need to start changing this industry.

The exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Museum showcased three designers who are rethinking their processes and viewing the waste generated in the production of their collections as opportunity to create more. What they are producing is what we are ideally seeking; ethics met with aesthetics.

Luisa Cevese, founder of Riedizioni in Milan, Italy is working mostly with silk selvedges, that are castoffs from industrial silk manufacturing.

Reiko Sudo, managing director of Japanese textile company NUNO is transforming silk waste into textiles that actually then have greater economic and creative value.

But, our favorite and most sustainable was, Christina Kim, founder of the Los Angeles-based fashion brand, dosa, whose focus is using offcuts from handwoven clothes.

Her process is beautiful, striking, and quite ingenious. The garment making process starts in a typical way, using a large bolt of fabric. The handwoven textile shown here as the First Generation garment she is producing.

Kim, then takes the scraps of that bolt of fabric and sews it into another similar sized piece of fabric, yielding the below result.

sewn together scraps of fabric

Images courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt Museum

From this large piece of fabric, new patterns are used to create additional garments, (2nd generation) like this beautiful skirt.

beautiful skirt made from scrap fabric

Image courtesy of the Cooper Hewitt Museum

As with the first bolt of fabric, waste is also produced from this second “patchwork” bolt of fabric. This waste is then also used to create more unique, beautiful textiles and details to further enhance additional garments. You can see the cycle of the 3 generations of materials and how they are used, in this diagram.

3 generations of scrap fabric cycle

Just to make sure you’re tracking here… all of this is created purely from the waste from that first generation of handwoven fabric.

We want to highlight 3rd generation items in more detail, as this is where so much of the artistry lies. Look at the work done on these stunning “amulets.”

amulets made from scrap fabric

Another, really lovely, idea we got from this exhibit was these darning techniques used for repairing clothing. These samples were taken from the 1700 and 1800s when people typically had about 6 outfits, constantly repaired them, and then handed them down to younger generations. We’re hoping to bring some of this back in our future collections. If you incorporate any of these ideas into your garments, we’d love to hear about it.

Scraps, will be at the Cooper Hewitt through April 23, 2017. They also have a very tech forward feature available while viewing their exhibits. You get a little hand held scanner that saves all the images and information you are interested in online. If you’d like to check out all that inspired us, you can view our little collection.

Whether you are a fashion creator or an enthusiast, we hoped this helped to inspire. We need more ideas of how we can save waste from the landfills and generate more support of these people who are leading the way.

Love yourself. Love the planet




Written by Jenna Leskela

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