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HELLO, MY NAME IS AMBER AND I HAVE OVERCOME MY ADDICTION.
I have fallen into the trap that is the second biggest contributor to pollution. There is no rehab for this addiction.
60 billion m2 of the 400 billion m2 we produce annually is left on the cutting room floor. Most of these leftovers end up in landfills in Asia. Far from sight, far from mind, far from where it could and should be used.
This means that 15% of the energy and money spent on growing, harvesting, weaving, shipping, etc is spent on nothing.
I would have never described myself as a junkie, but there I was, only 12 years old, and addicted.
Yes, you might say I was young, but my love for clothes has been a part of me for as long as I can remember.
My addiction concerns clothing. No, not fashion, that is a passion I’m pretty satisfied with.
However, owning clothes was my goal. Piles and piles of it and, of course, as cheap as possible.
My favorite store was the H&M. I’m not joking when I tell you I studied to know entire collections from the top of my head.
When smartphones became mainstream I started checking the H&M app every single day to see if there was something new.
I was trapped.
Once I started acknowledging my addiction I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by piles of clothing. Did I buy all of this? With what money and for what purpose? These thoughts were shocking.
I was hearing children’s voices in my head. Children who made the ridiculously cheap t-shirts I owned.
In 2013, I saw crying women on the television. Women who lost their loved ones under the concrete of Rana Plaza, a collapsed fast fashion factory.
I started doing research and found out that the 15% textile waste is actually the consequence of the excessive use of curved lines in conventional pattern making. Cutting and manufacturing are often outsourced to companies in developing countries, so that occidental fashion designers never face the amount of waste created by their own collections.
When making design choices, those designers treat fabric dimension constraints and pattern layouts as secondary concerns.
I wanted to overcome this, needed to overcome this. I found I was becoming more creative,
buying more secondhand clothes and making that into a sport for myself. Treasure hunting, I called it. However, I was still a long way from recovery. During this time I was studying fashion design, first at a craft school and later at a fashion academy.
The funny thing with schools like that, is that you come in as someone that loves fashion and everything surrounding it.
After those years of study I graduated as someone that absolutely hated the fashion industry and couldn’t believe I had ever participated in it willingly.
For me this realisation came after I attended craft school, when I decided to do conceptual fashion design to make a difference. I started to research the psychology of fashion and the industry “behind the scenes”.
I learned even more about the waste and damages involved.
So, I started to look for a solution. I still wanted to enjoy my identity as a fashion lover, maker and
buyer. This is when I found out about the zero-waste design. It introduced a completely different way of thinking!
An ethical way forward for the industry as well as my wardrobe.
Zero Waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign
of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to
landfills, incinerators, or the ocean. Currently, only 10% of textiles is actually recycled.
Waste produced during garment production can be avoided by applying the zero-waste design technique, where designers carefully plan the design so that they utilise the entire fabric. The concept of utilising the entire width of the textile is not a new phenomenon. It has
long been used in the making of Japanese kimonos and Indian saris because it makes sense
not to waste valuable textiles. However, it became less popular after the industrialisation of
fashion and the emergence of mass-produced fast fashion.
Today, there are many different approaches to zero-waste design, including draping, knitting and smart pattern making.
When I first started my journey with zero-waste design, I worked like I had always done. By sketching ideas first and then moving on to pattern-cutting. However, I changed my approach when I realised that keeping an open mind regarding the final outcome, while keeping the goal of making beautiful garments, allowed me to explore and invent new strategies.
I started to see this whole story as a cake. My identity and the statements I want to make with my outfits are the cake itself, but there is a cherry on top which makes the whole outfit even more delicious.
Today, I see my designs as real statements, because the cherry is that they are all
ethically made. There is no waste during cutting, no pollutants in waters, no factory workers afraid
for their lives.
That sounds delicious right? Every day, I frost myself like a beautiful
cake with an ethical cherry on top. If all of us can conquer the systemic addiction of fast
fashion, we can truly be more fashionable with a clear conscience.
BACK TO ZERO PI
A live performance where Amber told her story.