The fashion industry produces an estimated 400 billion square metres of fabric every year and for different reasons, up to 15% of this is wasted during the manufacturing process*
The best part of my job as a designer is trying to come up with creative ways to save waste, create less waste or make no waste. Following are a few different design techniques we use to help eliminate as much waste as possible.
The concept of zero-waste is simply where everything is re-used and nothing is discarded. In the fashion industry, this is adopted by thoughtfully designing a garment pattern to fit into a specific amount of fabric ensuring no textile waste is created.
Upcycling & Re-purposing
Upcycling is the process of transforming useless, unwanted items into items of better quality. Repurposing is the process of transforming items that were originally meant for one purpose, and turning them into something with a completely different purpose. These techniques help to prevent tons of clothing and textiles from ending up in landfill.
Sustainable textiles are organic, naturally-derived fibres. They are produced using methods that lessen the impact on the environment, crops are not treated with harmful herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and genetically modified organisms and use far fewer natural resources. Organic cotton, organic linen, products made with organic plant matter i.e. flax are all great sustainable textiles. These fibres also break down easily so they are compostable.
As the title suggests, this technique would offer designing garments full-of-waste i.e. fabric offcuts from previous projects, damaged and/or blemished textiles. There are a number of ways to put your textile waste back into garments: weaving waste can create an interesting textile, making patches, adding pockets to an existing garment, even plaiting the waste and making accessories from it.
Draping explores manipulating fabric around a body form (mannequin) and fashioning a garment without a fixed design concept in mind. This technique creates distinctive, fashion-forward silhouettes and is a creative way to make less cuts, keep the fabric intact as much as possible and essentially use 100% of the fabric.