Re-dressed for success

Repairing and redesigning are back in fashion. Photo by Will Ballard. ART AND DESIGN
Repairing and redesigning are back in fashion. Photo by Will Ballard.

UniSA played host to textile students and eco-friendly fashion designers in a one-day workshop in September, learning about the latest global trends in ethical and sustainable clothing.

Working on sustainable design at the workshop. Photo by Will Ballard.Working on sustainable design at the workshop.
Photo by Will Ballard.

The workshop, co-ordinated by UniSA fashion design academic and researcher, Dr Alison Gwilt, brought together some of the world’s leading names in sustainable fashion at a Redress Design Award Fashion Academy – held for the first time in Australia.

Sustainable design experts from the UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong joined Australian designers to discuss ways to tackle the war on clothing waste and help stem the throwaway culture that is endemic among clothes buyers.

“The mountain of material waste ending up in landfill is appalling and it’s time we realised the ‘take, make and dispose’ model of production is no longer fit for purpose,” Dr Gwilt told the audience.

“Instead, we are now adopting a circular economy that is economically and environmentally sustainable and where we can regenerate and recycle products and materials.”

Working on sustainable design at the workshop. Photo by Will Ballard.Working on sustainable design at the workshop.
Photo by Will Ballard.

Textile Technology students from Scotch College, alongside established and emerging designers, workshopped ideas to cut down on clothing waste, including getting back to the basics of repairing and redesigning garments to lengthen their life span.

Melbourne-based fashion designer Tess Whitfort, the first Australian to win the international Redress Design Award, shared her zero-waste pattern cutting techniques during the workshop, emphasising the importance of using locally sourced natural fibres.

“Sustainable design is more important than ever as our clothing consumption reaches an all time high,” Dr Gwilt said.

A 2017 YouGov report found that 40 per cent of Australians have thrown away unwanted clothing rather than trying to repair or recycle the garments and 75 per cent have tossed out clothes in the past year.

“The challenge for the industry now is to design fashionable garments that have no waste involved in producing them,” Dr Gwilt said.

“This entails engineering their patterns to use as much of the material as possible.

“Adelaide is well placed to nurture a sustainable fashion design industry, being small enough to react to consumer needs, as well as resourceful, inquisitive and supportive of new ideas.

“And at UniSA we also have the opportunity to shape our local fashion industry by helping our design students understand the impacts of clothing production and how we can reduce and even avoid these outcomes.”

Dr Gwilt is in the process of finalising a new book – Global Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion – which she is co-editing with Dr Alice Payne and Evelise Anicet Ruthschilling. The book is being published by Bloomsbury and will be available in February 2019.

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