Our last destination for the H&M x LCF project on the last day of London Fashion Week is The Strand. We take a look at the work of LCF students George Boyle, Pheobe Yange and Miju Ko called 3패션人, a reference to the collaboration between all three of their cultures. Their collection applies weaving and construction techniques found in traditional Japanese packaging to recycled garments in order to produce new pieces with zero or minimal waste. By working with these techniques their designs have embraced the various qualities found in the used garments, celebrating their flaws and emphasising asymmetry. I interviewed George to find out more about this design experience –
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?
Knowing how much time and hard work goes into the process of manufacturing these garments it is truly heartbreaking to see them thrown to waste. When you’re sat at your desk sketching away hundreds of designs, running from shop to shop to find fabrics and testing construction techniques you don’t for one second think about the garment being thrown away and so I think this came to me as a huge awakening. There’s a reason why people call it the fashion cycle – it’s a process which turns around ending up back on itself, and what people don’t realise is that a lot of the newest trends have evolved from traditional ways of dress, sometimes re-invented and other times simply re-made. Still today you see people digging through thrift stores for those old fashioned treasures in which they rework and stylise to become current. This is the process I experienced during this collection, taking something that was no longer classed as ‘fashionable’ and re-working it to become something in which the fashion industry would approve. Fashion is constantly evolving and it’s an exhausting process to keep up with (and not to forget expensive process) so by simply thinking deeper about what’s inside your wardrobe can actually result in a surprising outcome.
Did you find yourself designing in any way differently to past projects? How so?
Designing previously in my work has been a much more relaxed and care free process. I never for one second considered the amount of materials that were going to waste when working towards my final outcome. So when working on a sustainable project I had to put all the wastage into consideration and completely change the way in which I usually work. I had to really think carefully about how each piece would be constructed before I designed it, this was done by considering how each part would be pattern cut to reduce fabric and paper wastage. I had to think of what techniques such as draping and darting could be put into my work to reduce even cutting the materials. So yes I found myself designing in many more considerate and sustainable ways.
What were the biggest design challenges you faced during this project?
The biggest design challenge for me in this project had to be working with the donated garments. Trying to create a collection that looked cohesive and coordinated with one another from garments that weren’t all made from the same roll of fabric was a huge challenge. As a designer you imagine the silhouettes, volumes and shapes you want to achieve before creating the designs and this became really hard to do not knowing what foundations you were going to be given in order to build your idea. It’s always useful as a creative to see your materials before you build the outcome and with this project I was left with no idea of what materials I was going to be left with from one bag to the next. Whether It was a baby’s bib or and old bra, I had to make it work to the best of my ability.
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?
Having completed the project, I have had a huge awakening to the harsh reality that is not displayed in the shop windows of the high street. Now previously knowing about the critical effects the fashion cycle has on the earth I have completely re-evaluated my design process and feel I have evolved from this to become a more ‘eco-designer’ if I’m allowed to call it that! I feel my work will place its after effects more into consideration having now taught myself that you can always make something from what seems like nothing.
You can see the LCF collections for yourself at the following H&M locations around central London from 14 September – 20 September: