In February, hip fashion retailer H&M debuts a new collection called “Waste”, featuring clothing pieced together from the fabric remnants of its earlier collaborative collection with high-end design house Lanvin. (The limited edition collection will only be available in H&M’s flagship NYC store.) Many blogs are buzzing over this recent news since H&M was slammed last year in an article in the New York Times for slashing holes in unsold merchandise before dumping it in the garbage behind its Herald Square location.
The idea of consciously reusing fabric scraps in creative ways in garment sewing (I know you patchwork and quilty types already do this in your creations) would be an interesting challenge. There are several pioneering designers that have incorporated this into their work process, such as Christina Kim of Dosa and Alabama Chanin, both known for their quietly eco-conscious approaches to design. But this recent high profile approach to eco-fashion is also bringing the philosophy of zero waste design and sewing more into mainstream discussion.
The basic goal of zero waste design is to use every scrap of fabric in your clothing pattern, with no scraps left behind. (Some of you Project Runway fans may remember an episode challenge that required the designers to do just that.) Sound easy? It isn’t. We all try to lay our pattern pieces out to minimize wasted fabric, but there are always fabric scraps left over. And in industrial sewing some sources report that 15-20% of the fabric used in making commercial clothing ends up in landfills. Yikes!
So with the increasing interest in sustainable fashion, Parson’s School of Design just started one of the first design classes in zero waste design. And the NYT had a great article last fall titled, Fashion Tries on Zero Waste Design with a great overview of the current debate and links for more info. Check it out and join the discussion.