I paid a visit to the 15% at Interactions Exhibit by Timo Rissanen and Salla Salin at the New School and had a moment to re-examine the waste produced in my beloved fashion industry. Fashion Interactions is a "multi-disciplinary exhibition that explores fashion culture by means of contemporary art, design and media." The exhibit addresses the unsustainable nature of fashion and how people use clothing to define their sense of self.
This was done by setting up a sample room in a window display at Parsons New School for Design. At first I thought it was like a sweatshop style facility but I was reminded that sweatshops are mostly defined by the conditions and these were still nice conditions. Janelle Abbott is part of the exhibit and she is sewing plain white t shirts for 6 hours per day for 26 days. The room is fulfills all the functions of the sample room.
She uses an H&M adapted pattern for a plain white t-shirt, cuts the fabric and stitches each one at a time. She then stamps each with a label, puts the waste in individual shopping bags and records this in a log. She finishes each before starting the next. In a production facility, each person usually does one thing. For instance, one person would do all the cutting and another person does all the sleeves. For Janelle, I couldn't tell which was better. The goal is to give the waste to the consumer who gets the t-shirt. Here are 3 thoughts that this triggered:
1) This is hugely monotonous stuff
2) H&M may have an issue with their pattern being used in an exhibit
When I heard it was an H&M adapted pattern, my first thought was that it was a bit naughty to use a mass produced pattern by a major company in an exhibit that doesn't exactly celebrate their way of life. I wonder though, what their reaction would be in light of the fact that their business model is based on knocking off high end trends and making them affordable. I would love to hear their thoughts especially since they've launched a campaign to increase the sustainability of the company from another direction altogether.
3) What will the consumers do with the scraps after the exhibit?
The Interactions Exhibit at the New School is a must-see for anyone interested in zero waste in fashion. It spells it out in the clearest manner possible. To learn more about it, click here. To hear Janelle talk about what she's doing see the vid below.
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