Jan 08, 2020 | By Nick Paget
Textiles dyed with food waste; clothes that sprout plants; and workshops to teach consumers how to become makers. Yimin Deng reports from the TILL: bioFASHIONtech Summit, where three studios presented sustainable capsule collections
How does biotechnology, soil science, community building and fashion all fit together? On June 24, 2019, at the inaugural TILL: bioFASHIONtech Summit in Stamford, Connecticut, a diverse group of scientists, fashion industry executives, community organisers and ecological fashion designers connected the dots, with a focus on building a more sustainable future. According to UN, we only have 11 years left to “prevent irreversible damage from climate change”. We have to get going.
After a day of thoughtful, critical and inspiring keynotes and panel discussions, the summit was brought to an energetic peak with the debut of three ecological fashion capsule collections, each offering a different take on sustainability.
Gal Yakobovitch: finding new uses for food byproducts
Gal Yabokovitch presented a collection called CT Dairy, inspired by the long history of dairy farming in the US state of Connecticut. It was created in collaboration with Shaggy Coos Farm in Easton, Connecticut.
Yakobovitch made unisex and one-size-fits-most garments from upcycled T-shirts, and used a water-resistant coating derived from surplus milk from the farm, developed specifically for the collection. Accessories, including earrings, necklaces, brooches and a Paco-Rabanne-meets-nature apron, were made from decellularised and crystallised food waste derived from cucumbers, lemons and strawberries. The garments and accessories were also naturally dyed using blueberries, onion skin, and avocado pits.
Yakobovitch’s thoughtful practice of using food waste and community-informed design was complemented by a photo series of the owners of Shaggy Coos Farm – Tim and Bernadette Brady, and their daughter Margaret.
Community Studio: teaching consumers to become sustainable makers
Community Studio’s presentation opened with a video of eight people strutting in a local mall as if it were their runway. The collection was a collaboration between three fashion designers – Yimin Deng, Huashuang Hu and Vân Anh Lê – and eight individuals with little-to-no fashion training, who were taught how to make clothes using upcycled materials, including reclaimed garments, textiles, and fabric scraps.
To do this, the eight individuals came to the studio to work with the designers on a weekly basis, and also attended free sewing and fashion-making workshops that the studio offered to Stamford residents. On stage at the summit, the eight participants shared their experience of being a part of Community Studio and working with the designers. The mission of the collection was to show that anybody can play a part in sustainable fashion, not only as consumers, but also as makers.
Jacob Olmedo: hydroponic couture
Jacob Olmedo showcased three looks exploring the use of hydroponic textiles that sprout plants – a key focus that he is pursuing in his MFA Textiles at New York’s Parsons School of Design. Olmedo used wool yarns as a versatile medium for the plants to grow on, and incorporated seeds into fully fashioned knitwear. They were also spun into wool yarn, and then tufted or hand embroidered to create billowing textured surfaces. Through bringing nature into contact with the human body in such a literal way, Olmedo sees his unique fashion practice as a form of environmentalism. His living and breathing garments require care from the wearer, and Olmedo believes that this act of caring can help rebuild our connection with nature.
* All three collections were produced in the summit’s namesake ecological fashion incubator: bioFASHIONtech LAB, located at Stamford Town Center shopping mall
* For more insight, see our latest report Sustainable Futures: Biodesign Communities
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