Sustainable fashion is like an urban myth. Everyone talks about it, yet few can describe what it really means. Let’s say I have no idea of what sustainable fashion is. Thus, here comes a little guide from two sustainable fashion insiders, MA fashion design students, Margaryta Zubrii and Greta Ubaite. Greta is also one of our dear contributors to Abstract Stylist, this time standing on another side of the conversation.
While Margaryta is doing her research tilted “Transformative design methods and their implementation in sustainable fashion context”, Greta is focusing on “Principles of slow fashion expression and its applicability in a personal wardrobe”. It all sounds overwhelming, but actually is more than relevant to any of us. Go on, educate yourself, for the sake of love to our mother Earth.
Can you describe in a few words what sustainable fashion means to you?
Margaryta Zubrii: Personally, to me, sustainable fashion became an integral part of my creative path. During my research, I faced the fact that everyone interprets this term differently, and each response is right. Generally speaking, sustainable fashion is a balance of three main factors: environmental, social and economical. In my opinion, a well designed, durable, functional and emotionally pleasing item is already sustainable.
Greta Ubaite: Sustainable fashion is like an urban myth for a reason. It is a business and production system, which is not easy to implement. It covers a lot of factors, from producers to users. For me, the easiest factors to fulfill at this moment are conscious consumerism and prolonging the lifecycle of my garments. Those two aspects are the foundation of my work. By bearing in mind conscious consumerism I mean, buying products which you actually need. I am working with a sustainable personal wardrobe system, which includes a capsule wardrobe and creative prolongation of the lifecycle of garments I already have. Without buying something new, unless it is locally, ethically made, or second-hand.
How sustainable design works? Do you have the same freedom as people creating fashion without this intention?
M.Z. I think the actual model of the design process is very similar to any other in fashion; the thing is that you initially add an additional target or feature your product needs to respond. The main difference lies in production. Actually, a sustainable fashion designer has the same amount of freedom as any other, there are specific requirements for each segment of fashion, so every designer is in some sort obscured by the framework of his field. However, these rules are really helpful in creating fashion.
G.U. Sustainable design at first is about responsible design. It cannot be driven by impulse, it has to be thoughtful and functional. But I can’t say that it is more constrained from the perspective of creativity. The most important thing here is choosing the right materials. Also, for me, the source of second-hands is inexhaustible; I rely on it quite heavily. And then, I have all the freedom as far as my imagination reaches.
What sustainable design forms do you prefer?
M.Z. During my MA study, I was experimenting with as up-cycling method and zero waste fashion, but I found it more interesting to work with modular design, as it can be implemented as an independent method, but also as a combination of several sustainable approaches. Currently, for my graduation collection, I am working with a form of a regular triangle as a module, which helps to eliminate textile leftovers. This method can be used for different kinds of fabrics, as for the new ones and for pre- and post-consumer textile waste.
G.U. I prefer working with already made garments that are somehow damaged or not suitable for wearer anymore. My main task during my MA costume design studies is to find out the methods and technologies that would help to return the wearer’s unused garments back to his personal wardrobe lifecycle. I am trying to solve problems which involve no longer fashionable, dull, torn, too big or too small garments and etc. In my exhibition, I deliver a multifunctional dress capable of changing its colour combinations and shapes according to the needs of a wearer. It is made out of damaged and no longer wearable tights.
What is your vision of the ideal future of fashion?
M.Z. It is clear that fashion must become more sustainable, and it’s exciting how different designers think about sustainable fashion and how it reflects in their works. Different levels of customization of clothing will become more affordable for a regular customer, which will lead to more sustainable fashion practices. Ethical aspects are also very important here. I hope, that in the nearest future, we could refuse from the use of real fur and leather for fashion, as these materials will be printed on 3D printing machines, I’m curious about the things Modern Meadowis doing in that area.
G.U. My ideal vision is associated with a reduction of overproduction in the future’s fashion system. I hope there will be more customized clothing according to wearers’ personal needs, which are usually more valued and less discarded, also, higher consumer responsibility to buy less, but more quality, local production. As well as traditional crafts and mastery should take an important part in garments production. Do not forget the technologies which will allow us more alternatives in the sustainable, animal-friendly, textile field.
Five steps we can do, to become more sustainable in fashion terms.
M.Z. Consume consciously. What a regular person can do, is to work on their own style, figure out the best solutions for him or herself and buy garments that are really meeting his/ her own values and criteria. Also, pay attention to labeling and care instructions. Today there are many pieces on the market, which are easy to care, and needless natural resources for that.
Summarizing these into 5 steps:
1. Be open to experiments, educate yourself in terms of sustainability.
2. Pay attention to fabric composition and quality.
3. Develop your personal style, follow macro, not micro trends.
4. Buy clothing you really need and will use on a daily basis.
5. Invest in multi-functionality and durability of clothing and accessories.
1.Do not follow trends, they appear as fast as they go out of fashion. Better, have your own style, which matches your activities and personality.
2. Buy local, quality garments even if this costs more. Be curious, find out who made them, and do not be afraid to ask how to take care of them properly. I am sure that they will last much longer than fast fashion products.
3. Try vintage or second-hand clothing shops. Vintage garments have great quality, they were produced in small or even single quantities, which means they were crafted more carefully and could last more than a few years.
4. Remember – less is more when you know how to use your wardrobe properly. For that, google the capsule wardrobetips.
5. If your garment is no longer suitable for you, maybe it will suit someone else? Think about this before throwing it out.
Visit the gallery ‘Akademija’ in Vilnius (located Pilies Str. 44) to see both projects in the MA fashion design students exhibition ‘Lakmusas’. Open until 31 March 2019.