It was around this time last year we launched the Clothes Well Lived project – a collaboration with H&M and London College of Fashion’s BA (Hons) Creative Direction to create a series of window installations that challenge our perceptions of value through the lens of fashion. This year the journey continues as we work with H&M, BA(Hons) Fashion Design & Technology Womenswear and BA(Hons) Fashion Jewellery to explore and practice designing for sustainability.
Throughout the summer term 33 groups of students worked collaboratively to design and produce a capsule collection from recycled garments provided through H&M’s garment collecting programme. Challenged to research a pivotal historic fashion moment and reflect upon the practice of a chosen visionary, each group set out to repurpose and recreate a collection which challenges the status quo of the existing fashion system. After presenting their work to a panel of industry experts, 10 groups were selected to showcase their designs across 5 H&M stores through London Fashion Week. During this time we will examine some of the concepts explored by the exhibited groups, along with a selection of interviews with the students themselves.
You can see the LCF collections for yourself at the following H&M locations around central London from 14 September – 20 September:
H&M Oxford Circus – 4th floor lounge
H&M 174-176 Oxford St – Window (facing Great Titchfield St)
H&M 360-366 Oxford St – Window (Near Bond St tube)
H&M 27-29 Long Acre – Window (Covent Garden)
H&M 426-427 The Strand – Window
With the kick off of London Fashion Week we start with a look at Dissimulation and Exposure, by LCF students: Margot Didier, Camila Fukumothi, Siar Hawzhen, Monta Kairena and Yueqi Li. This capsule collection draws its focus from the two most common textiles found in garment collection – denim and jersey. Working with these materials as a starting point, the students applied a variety of patchwork, weaving and textile manipulation techniques to develop a refined, cohesive collection that is structured and delicate. Here, I interview Siar to find out more about the group’s design process and experience working on the project:
Can you describe what it felt like as a designer to experience first-hand the clothes that are being discarded at the end of the fashion cycle?
I felt through the recycling process, I was given the chance to give new life to the fabrics. From something old and drab that no one would ever want or touch, to something desirable and new. It was strange not having to go to a market and purchasing new material but instead relying on what we already have – something that I was not accustom too. I was shocked at how many recycled clothes I was given access to and was re-evaluating some of my life principles on how to buy and source my clothes and cherish the amount and all and foremost not to waste anything.
Did you find yourself designing in any way differently to past projects? How so?
Personally I always find a different path of how to undergo a project. Particularly for this project I had to think outside the norm and put materials first. I always had to consider if I could achieve the desired outcome with what I had. But this should not stop anyone from trying to do the impossible. I learned that some ideas did not work with the clothes and some did. It really is a journey of experimentation with your creativity.
What were the biggest design challenges you faced during this project?
Honestly, the only challenge I experienced was how to create something cohesive with style and on trend with this current growing market of constant changing fashion. It is always a goal for myself to produce something people haven’t seen before and can get intrigued by. There was also the slight risk due to the nature of having a vast amount of clothes to work from of having to have to create a lot of patchwork. But through clever thinking I was able to create a method that does not look homemade. You just have to use everything strategically.
Having completed the project, do you feel you know more about fashion and sustainability? How do you think this might influence your design work in the future?
I definitely appreciate sustainability to a higher level than before. Having seen how our clothing industry globally affects everyone, I am paying attention to how to source materials that are environmentally friendlier. I am more open to using things from the past to retain its value and give every inch a chance to sparkle in my garments. I would definitely recommended thinking outside the box wherever possible, because any material can be changed to a desired effect with enough imagination and determination.