A New Crop of Designers Wants to Make Fashion Less Wasteful

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A small group of international designers is aiming to create clothes with zero waste, e.g. "not so much as a scrap of fabric on the cutting room floor." How wasteful is fashion in the first place? Well, according to the Times, "fifteen to twenty percent of the fabric used to produce clothing winds up in the nation’s landfills because it’s cheaper to dump the scraps than to recycle them." That's not okay, says "a small but impassioned coterie of designers," which includes Mark Liu, Julian Roberts, Zandra Rhodes, and many a Parsons student. Sounds idealistic, but the practice is actually gathering steam:

"The book 'Shaping Sustainable Fashion: Changing the Way We Make and Use Clothes' by Alison Gwilt and Timo Rissanen, zero-waste pioneers, will be published in February by Earthscan. And an exhibition of zero-waste fashions, curated by Mr. Rissanen and another zero-waste designer, Holly McQuillan, will be held in New Zealand next spring and in New York the following fall. Also in March, an exhibition, 'No Waste/Zero Waste' will open at the Averill and Bernard Leviton A + D Gallery in Chicago, part of Columbia College Chicago."


Still, the mission is easier said than done: Zero-waste jeans need to fit together "like a puzzle," and "these techniques have not made much headway with large manufacturers." One handsome zero-waste designer and Parsons professor, Timo Rissanen, even compared zero-waste designing to "basically having to learn to design again." But kudos to these kids. If you see some cute fashion boys and girls walking around in jeans that fit so nicely they could be compared to jigsaw puzzles, there is surely some hope for a real trend here.

Fashion Tries on Zero Waste Design [NYT]