I am now in my third year of my fashion degree and am on my way to creating my final range. As opposed to previous collections where we were given a design brief which prescribed a certain direction, this year we are free to do essentially what ever we want. This is fantastic as it has really allowed us all our own creative expression and freedom but it does turn deciding on one concept a rather gargantuan task. After much pondering, jotting down ideas at 4am, sketching, researching, and ranting, I finally decided on a concept.
My collection is called Caldera. The word refers to a volcanic crater which is created by the collapse of a magma chamber. The collection is inspired primarily by volcanoes. My designs feature a lot of volcanic and post apocalyptic imagery, from digital prints based on fiery eruptions, draped fabric inspired by cooling magma flows, and laser cut fabric based on burnt out buildings with exposed framework. By using volcanic imagery within my designs I’m alluding to a metaphorical connection between volcanoes and humanity’s treatment of the earth. There’s a theory that the transition from the last glacial period into a climate ideal for human habitation was caused approximately 12,000 years ago by Volcanoes releasing large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as they erupted. This caused a global warming effect not dissimilar to what we’re currently experiencing because of humanity’s abuse of the environment. The main difference is that humans are heralding far more rapid and damaging change to the surface of theEarth and the atmosphere. While Volcanoes may have played a significant part in allowing humanity to thrive on Earth they have also been the cause of much death, destruction and suffering. They are in a way both a bringer and destroyer of life. (If you’re interested you can find out more about volcanoes, the Anthropocene, and how humans have changed the surface of the earth here http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/4574615.htm) Dressing people in volcano inspired clothing symbolises the power humans have over the environment and the destructive nature of our species. All my designs feature turtle necks drawn over the nose and mouth, these are inspired by respiratory masks worn in areas where air pollution and airborne biological hazards are a threat. This demonstrates that we did this to ourselves; that we are both the cause of environmental damage and the ones suffering from the outcome, along with everything else living on this planet.
The modern fashion industry is one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries around today. From the huge amounts of textile waste in landfill, to the vast amounts of water and hazardous chemicals used in fabric production and the resulting water and air pollution. Not only does the fashion industry present sustainability issues but there are a lot of ethical concerns around the treatment of workers and animals. (I’ll elaborate more on all of this in a later post) In short, the fashion industry is really very bad for the environment, workers, and animals, and I want to do something about it. For this reason, my collection is 100% vegan and features as many sustainable materials and practices as possible. Being a student, I don’t have access to all the materials I would like to use. Instead of compromising my design vision I’m treating the one-off garments I’m creating as prototypes. Some of the materials used are unsustainable but I’m ensuring that I research the ways every element of my designs could be made sustainably. A good example of this is a neoprene coat I’m making. Neoprene is made from petroleum and is definitely not an environmentally friendly material, however there is a new type of neoprene called Yulex which is created from renewable, sustainably sourced, natural rubber. (read more about Yulex here http://www.patagonia.com/yulex.html) Being a student and only wanting a few meters of the fabric, I can’t source this, but in an ideal world, the coat would be made from Yulex. Some of the other sustainable fabrics I’m using include natural rubber latex, bamboo, and linen.