The studio-led design pop-up event 'Fast Forward: Fashion 2030' at RMIT Gallery showcased a timely collaboration.
As a student, walking into an industry and being so aware of its problems can be pretty discouraging. 'Fast Forward: Fashion 2030' an event held as part of the Fast Fashion: The dark side of fashion exhibition at RMIT Gallery explored at how fashion business can be transformed into a more sustainable methodology and practice.
The third-year Fashion and Textiles undergraduate student projects were the result of work with Germany's future-thinking sustainable designer and entrepreneur Ina Budde, who came to Melbourne courtesy of the Goethe-Institut.
The studio-led design pop-up 'Fast Forward: Fashion 2030' at RMIT Gallery on 24 August showcased the resulting timely collaboration between students and industry that explored at how fashion business can be transformed into a more sustainable methodology and practice.
The students' research focused on the design solutions to fast fashion, and in particular what they can do as future designers. Under the direction of RMIT Fashion and Textile lecturers Jo Cramer and Kate Sala they worked with Budde to explore how they can approach changing the practices and systems of production and consumption to a more sustainable model.
Budde is engaged in the forefront of sustainable fashion design in Germany, a country leading the way in sustainable fashion design. Her own practice is concerned with design and circularity. She realises recyclable products and system innovations for fashion labels with products designed for a "cradle to cradle" inspired circular economy.
Cramer said that students were privileged to have the opportunity to work with the energetic designer.
"Budde has a fantastic academic practice as well as a creative practice, and I think that was a big part of what made students latch onto the opportunities. In amongst all of the challenges fashion designers face, they could really see themselves as being part of the solution to the fast fashion problem."
Cramer said that the students realized that by making clever choices about materials, the combinations of materials, the trims, and the way they construct and cut their garments, they could make a huge impact on fashion waste and recycling.
Third-year fashion student, Marley Downey said that working with Ina Budde and participating in the fast Forward Fashion Studio changed the way she viewed fashion.
"It makes me want to make an impact in how we consume and encourage others not to waste as much. The way I design will definitely have a sustainable element behind it," she said.
A lot of the students embraced the idea of designing for recycling, so that garments can be broken back down into their constituent parts and be recycled at the same level, rather than being 'down-cycled' which is what tends to happen when garments are shredded and used in the manufacture of carpet underlay, for instance.
Other students explored the use of 'mono materiality' – the use of a single type of fabric that is easier to recycle.
Lucy Zhu, another fashion student at RMIT, said that working with Ina Budde gave her "insight into the future." Lucy's project was influenced by 'mono materiality', creating a garment that was "all made out of the same material which can be recycled at the same level."
As explored in the Slow Fashion Studio response to the Fast Fashion exhibition at RMIT Gallery, Australians are the second largest consumers of new textiles worldwide, and fashion is one of this country's fastest growing waste problems.
Cramer, who also has some of her work shown in the Slow Fashion Studio, says the good news is that there are a lot of solutions to combating fast fashion, and that RMIT students are at the forefront of looking at the opportunities and contribution they can make to getting fashion consumption habits onto a more sustainable path.
"What's needed now is getting the general public on board, and raising public consciousness in the perils of waste."
"It has been really interesting seeing how the students have engaged with these ideas and it does seem to be really reshaping how they see themselves practising as designers in the future. They are carrying forward much more awareness of the impact of what they are making on the world." Cramer said.
Story by: Melanie Moynihan
Melanie Moynihan is a third-year Bachelor of Communication (Media) student at RMIT University, currently doing an internship with the RMIT Gallery.