If you want to read some of my notes I took at the event, continue reading.
Material By Product focuses on zero waste designs, meaning they attempt to use every bit of material so there’s limited textile waste. Susan described what she does as "designing systems not things". There’s so much work which goes into designing a pattern which uses every piece of material and for each new design, they need to also develop a new method of pattern making.
For some of the designs, the body of the garment has used the zero waste method however the sleeves have needed to be cut separately. Susan said there’s always room for improvement and they continue to work on new ideas. The same goes for the materials they use, majority of the fabrics are ethical however they have yet to come across ethical silk or leather and are constantly working with the supplier to find more ethical sources.
Susan also discussed how for her, it’s all about crafting and tailoring the garment. She has to see the way the garment is being put together, whether it be herself or a seamstress.
The group discussion then went on to talk about slow fashion versus fast fashion and the effect it has on sustainability. Obviously slow fashion is more sustainable because the pieces are usually of better quality and have a longer life. Fast fashion, being more trend focused, means consumers won’t wear the pieces for as long and overall buy more.
Susan stated that “fast fashion makes slow fashion more special” however she said that there’s of course a place for fast fashion in the industry.
She said that “fashion is about change, novelty and fun” but people shouldn’t be mistaken that “novelty and fun isn’t always disposal either”
She talked about how her business is more for the customers who appreciate slow fashion and would rather buy a few quality pieces. She finds the women are usually aged 29+.
Generally ages 11-21 are into fast fashion as part of their experimental years. Ages 21-29 is about education, learning about the sources, fibres and how the garment has been put together.
Ages 29+ is about investment buying since usually by this point the woman has an understanding of her body shape and wants to buy quality pieces which will last longer.
Susan also talked about how she makes ‘transparent garments’ which means you can visibly see every stitch in the garment. She keeps the stitches visible to show the amount of work which has been put into it. You can see this in the picture of the garments above.
The panel went on to discuss how repairing items instead of throwing them out is much more sustainable. They talked about taking your items which are made of good quality materials, to get altered if they’re damaged, the wrong cut or size. Karen said for her, it’s about length of life, how you care for it and how much you get out of that one product.
The designers on the panel have admitted they’re not perfectly sustainable but all looking for ways to improve all the time. Other designers need to become more educated and make better design choices. Customers will follow if designers are making the products available. In some cases if there’s a high enough demand coming from the consumer, the designer will then take it into consideration. There isn’t a high enough demand from customers at the moment for ethical or sustainable clothing, therefore some designers don’t take it into account, when they should be.
It was good seeing people involved with this conversation and it was a positive step forward for MSFW. Other events I attended didn’t seem to have many sustainable considerations, so I hope in the future there’s even more of a focus.