Saturday, 27 July 2013

A fashion manifesto

Recently I started studying fashion design. It is a really interesting course, very technical - we are studying how to sew, machine knit, pattern-make and draw, and eventually I hope to be able to make garments from my own designs, such as the paper dress above! It is all very fun, and interesting, but as I think about what part I'd like to play in the industry I start to have niggling doubts.

This is one industry I find that has major issues... for one, the wastage of clothing. Did you know that the most energy consumed by garments is not in their production (growing the fibres, production, dyeing, spinning, weaving, cutting, sewing, finishing) or even in their transport (from low-cost countries to high cost countries... and then sometimes back again)? The most energy is consumed in the disposal of garments. So next time you are thinking about buying a $10 t-shirt, or a $5 t-shirt, or whatever ridiculously low sum they cost these days, think about how many times you'll wear it, and then where it will go after you have disposed of it. Is it going to last for decades, like a great vintage garment, being passed from loving owner to loving owner? Or will it stretch out of shape after five washes and have to be discarded right then and there?

I dream of creating clothing that no one ever wants to throw out.

A second concern I have is the emphasis on particular body shapes. We are all shaped differently, and one thing I think is really important is to be able to design for all body shapes, not create a design based on an industry-determined size 10 of a particular height, and then adjust it. Maybe we could create beautiful and amazing things if we started to think about it differently...

Tell me, what interests you about the fashion industry? And what would you like to see change? No doubt I will continue to blog on this as the course goes on...

Friday, 5 July 2013

Getting custom-printed tights

Recently I put together a folio for entry to a fashion design course. One of my pieces drew on some fabric patterns I had designed to be printed onto tights. The theme of the designs was 1980s Berlin punk, so I titled the collection "Ein Berliner" after the famous speech that US President Kennedy had given to the West Berliners, where, by saying in solidarity with the audience "ich bin ein berliner", he had actually said "I am a doughnut" and not his intended "I am a Berliner". Fact or fiction, it is a great story! I took inspiration for the colours and motifs from spray paint graffiti colours and paste-ups, as well as images of punk and post-punk fashion.

I had simulated my designs onto photographs of tights, which looked pretty good, but I really wanted to see how they looked on an actual pair of tights. The particular design I selected was a spray painted stencil of lips, scanned and digitally coloured.

I found a site in Germany called Funnylegs that custom-prints your own tights. It is pretty simple to use, although a lot of the information is in German, and fortunately they send their products all over the world. Another site that also looked good was Digital Art Wear, which has a wide range of custom digitally-printed clothing, but unfortunately they only appear to ship products within the USA.

I had the tights printed at Funnylegs and I think they came up pretty well! My other designs included a digitally manipulated sketch of a doughnut, overlaid and coloured to look like an animal print, and a paste-up letter F that was duplicated and overlaid with checks to create a punk-like tartan.

If you're interested in getting your own design printed on tights, I'd encourage you to have a go! It is a lot of fun, and it is very satisfying to see your print on a final product. Of course, if you would like one of my designs custom-printed on tights for you, please contact me.