Is Fashion Finally Squaring The Circle? By Tamara Cincik
On Friday I attended the breakfast launch to Disrupting Patterns at Chelsea College of Art, to celebrate a two year project by designer Filippa K in collaboration with Mistra Future Fashion as well as Professor Rebecca Earley & Dr. Kate Goldsworthy from the Centre for Circular Design at UAL. "Circular Design Speeds" is a collection using the latest methods in innovation for production, the highlight of which is a dress which is 100% bio-based and biodegradable, after wearing it several times, you can compost it and it will fully decompose. The "Throw Away Dress" is created with non-woven Tencel material that avoids the costly processes of spinning and weaving, before being naturally dyed using food by Heart and Earth Production. Another highlight was "The Eternal Trench Coat" that is 100% recycled using polyester from plastic bottles. The dyeing process used also reduces water usage by 75 % and chemical usage by 90%. The coat is available at Filippa K stores and online.
Part of the brand’s Front Runners (pieces designed as sustainably as possible from start to finish) were exhibited, along with details of the design process including research, development, and testing. The showcase highlighted their new strategic forms of sustainable design for garments that complete the circular fashion loop, from design, to dye, from components to product and after-life. Filippa K has succeeded in their goal of gaining ecological insights which can be implemented in a real industry context in an effort to increase awareness. With a focus on products’ length of use and maximising fabric value retention, Filippa K aims to be fully circular by 2030.
Elin Larsson, Sustainability Director at Filippa K said in a statement: "We are exploring the different speeds of fashion and what it means to design a circular garment that is supposed to live for a very long time, as well as one that is only supposed to live for a short time. Understanding the lifecycle of a product is key for creating a more sustainable industry. The future is dependent on a new definition of ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion. The future of fashion relies on us, the brands, being able to offer more sustainable products and services, supporting more conscious consumer behaviour. We have developed circular garments where all environmental impacts and aspects during the full life cycle are taken into account and optimized based on a predetermined life length.
To ensure that the trench coat was 100% recyclable, they had to make changes in the design process, including a recycling company from the out-set. Elin said: "We had to skip the idea of having an elastic band in the arm sleeve of our “Eternal Trench coat” in order for it to be 100% recyclable. The short-life garments were a major challenge, not just for us but also because of the fact that solutions and infrastructure for the kind of materials and production processes that fast fashion would require to become sustainable are not in place yet. The dresses we created as short-life garments are concept dresses showcasing what the future of fast fashion might look like, within perhaps 2-5 years. The funny thing working with these “Throw Away Dresses” that are 100% biodegradable and suppose to only live for a short time, is that they are developed and produced with a lot of manual work and handicraft methods, they are almost to be considered art-pieces, made out of artistic hands and old-time techniques, but will only be enjoyed for a short time. To be compared with art created in ice or sand. For these to be the future of fast fashion we need to reach a commercial price point and to implement new techniques and production processes, otherwise these products will cost way too much – both in actual price as well as time spent."
By exploring the limits of what ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ fashion is, this exhibition felt like a holistic solution to the key fashion issue of our time. Considered, intelligent, revolutionary.