Workshop for a sustainable world

As humanity grows in numbers, so does the need for clothes. However, natural resources are limited. This was the scenario introduced to students from all programmes at the Swedish School of Textiles during the Wednesday one day workshop. The topic was Fast forward by rewind and presented the idea that in order to move forward, one must sometimes rewind.

Introduce sustainability approach

300 people were divided into fifty groups, all of which included students with different nationalities and perspectives on the clothing creation process. Using second hand garments donated by the Red Cross, each group was to create an outfit to be displayed during a fashion show later that evening. The thought behind the project was, apart from giving the students an excellent chance to become better acquainted, to introduce a sustainability approach to the process of creating clothes as early as possible.

– It was very creative to be given the chance to remake something, to see new possibilities in a finished garment, says Master's student Lina Wahrer.

Her group chose to begin their work with a single garment, a brown fur coat. The lining became a dress and the coat a waistcoat, all garments inspired by the 20's and American author Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby. Another group chose to sew together two jackets and made a single jacket with a gigantic hood; yet another group used pieces of fabric to make an oversized, colourful collar.

The need of fibre will double

University Senior Lecturer Jonas Larsson and doctoral student Amanda Ericsson introduced the workshop by framing it in a larger perspective, serving the students some hard facts. Such as the fact that the textile industry produces 82 million tons of fibres yearly. In less than twenty years, that figure will doubled if the population of the world continue to grow at the rate it does today.

– Will there be twice as many sheep? Twice as much oil? Twice as many trees and cotton fields? Jonas Larsson asked rhetorically.

Fibres must be reused, both from an environmental point of view and for the industry to live on, Jonas Larsson continued. This is why the design process for clothes must change and include the possibility to recycle and reuse. The industry has to begin designing to achieve longer durability, to make garments easier to recycle at the mill or broken down.

– This is an important topic, a topic of immediate interest, says student Lina Wahrer.

Follow the workshop on Tumblr: "Fast forward rewind".

Text and photo: Emma Engström