Spring brings new life and new hope. Snow melts and rains fall, cleaning the environment. Life brings new awakenings, and relationships thrive.
This season brings its own definition of fashion, expressing itself with clean colors and brisk pallets. Because the weather can be cold but fresh and invigorating, 'brisk pallets' can include contrasting colors such as navy and white, teal and yellow, or asparagus and celery (accessorize this color combo with yellow or black for a really sophisticated look) . This is a time to pair your winter sweaters with light colored skirts and boots; to layer light colored t-shirts under down vests. This is the season to mix and match parts of your winter wardrobe with spring and summer attire.
The goal is to look as crisp as the weather. If you care about fashion, create looks that are as invigorating as the day is fresh. If spring showers are drenching your locale in a torrential downpour, dress accordingly. But if the day is refreshing and stimulating, let your wardrobe reflect this.
In this ensemble, Stormy Rangel reflects the softness of this environment with white, and uses the intricacy of lace to express the ethereal beauty of white.
The designer I admire the most for his use of color in his collections is Manish Arora, often referred to as "the John Galliano of India". His rich palette of psychedelic color combinations featuring embroidery, appliqué, and beading details, are visual feasts for the fashion enthusiast and connoisseur. Coming from a county renowned for its colorful silk saris, Arora brings exotic color to the fashion appetites of the rest of the world.
Taking a lead from this designer, this re-fashioned yoga pant is from a discarded knit top. The colors may have seemed overpowering for a top, but work fabulously as a pair of pants! Photographed against a fiery sunset background at the end of a dock, the viewer is reminded how closely the colors of nature can be aligned with the colors of fashion.
Recycled, Up Cycled, Re-Purposed Clothing Design: A Slow Fashion Movement
Fast fashion, while its economic value is powerful, has left in its wake such an environmental wasteland, that advocates have been for many years actively rallying around and promoting solutions to this problem. One of the early pioneers in this movement was Kate Fletcher, who, eight years ago in 2007, then a member of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, UK, coined the term Slow Fashion. Originally, Slow Fashion only recognized handmade clothing; later advocating fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and encouraging zero waste. But as the movement has expanded over the years, it has embraced countless interpretations of eco-friendly design methodologies, including recycled, up cycled, and re-purposed clothing design.
Fashion, now a throwaway commodity in almost every country around the world, has created mountains of waste that now have to be addressed and managed. Recycle, up cycle, re-purpose design methodologies are emerging design solutions. Why buy new fabrics that require precious resources to produce when we have more waste products than we know what to do with?
With this in mind, Rachael Boyd helped me illustrate this design practice by modeling an upcycled t-shirt over a pair of re-purposed t-shirt pants. The top was re-fashioned from a man's t-shirt, sculpting cap sleeves and a heart shaped neckline for a more feminine look; the pants cut and remade from another t-shirt. The colors and design are complimentary, giving this ensemble a unique look that you cannot buy from a department store!!
Considering the waste of fabric scraps alone, zero waste designing is becoming more and more strategic in the Slow Fashion movement in the United States. In New York City, if 10% or more of your commercial waste is textile material, you are required to recycle it. This law has produced a secondary market of designers using these remnants in their designs. One such example is Leanne Marshall. You can see an amazing video of her wedding dress designs at https://www.facebook.com/rackednational/videos/1906089999421183/.
Leanne gets her scraps from Fabscraps, a company dedicated to the middleman business this city law has produced, collecting this waste and redistributing it
creatively (http://fabscrap.org). In the Bay Area, Fabmo is stepping up to this plate. This non profit organization (http://www.fabmo.org) collects seasonal waste from design businesses
all over the Bay Area, bringing exquisite textiles, wallpapers, tiles, leathers, trims, etc. to local makers, and in the
process, diverts about 70 tons/year from landfill! Most of these samples are swatches, so designers have to think small (and accessorize) with these
But zero based designing is not just about figuring out what to do with someone else's scraps. The most efficient design strategy is not to create scraps in the first place. The
vest that Stormy is wearing in this picture is a scrap of leather left over from a custom architecture utility belt. The only scraps discarded from this hide were the circles cut out for
Fish leather is available in many colors and finishes, and makes a great leather substitute for making belts. Colors are unlimited, as every 'tanner' can use any dye available in the marketplace. Finishes typically include satin, silk, and suede; I prefer the silk and suede for a softer finish and richer look. As you can see from the belt in this photo, the fish scales are clearly visible on the surface texture of the pelt, which adds an exotic finish to the belt.
The best pelts come from Salmon, Perch and Carp, although Wolf fish and Tilapia skins are also used. Rays and Sharks are also harvested, but its important to make sure to be selective about the skins you use. Rays are used exclusively for their skins, so are not farmed responsibly. The same is true for Sharks, who are often farmed for part of their bodies and thrown back into the ocean to die. Salmon, Perch and Carp are, in most fishing industries, farmed responsibly, meaning they are subject to fishing regulations and restrictions, so they are sustainable according to current market conditions. This could change, so its important to stay on top of current events.
Up until fish skins were harvested into leather pelts, their skins were always discarded, so by using fish leather, you are supporting a recycling process, which is part of participating in sustainable fashion. However, the fish skin does need to be soaked in a brine solution, which depending on the volume of product being processed, can create a disposable waste issue. So just stay on top of your environmental issues at all times, and try as best as possible to balance production with the environment, so we can all breathe deeper!
Stormy Rangel, Rachael Boyd (two models from Tuolumne County) and I, met up with photographer Edewaa Foster (II Pix Photography) at his studio in Sonora last weekend for a winter fashion photo shoot. We had originally proposed to do this outdoors in the snow, but the logistics of changing (and staying warm), deterred me from this plan. So we agreed to do this in his studio instead. But when we got there last Saturday, it was 70 degrees outside! We all agreed it would have been a challenge in this unusually warm February to have found snow, even at the nearby ski resorts.
So, grateful for the surprising and welcome warmth of this fantastic Saturday, in the middle of winter in Tuolumne County, we pulled out the sun glasses and went for a taste of summer instead! Posing in front of garden windows, Stormy modeled her favorite item in my collection (we shot 12 ensembles in 3 hours), this navy leather vest, fashioned from the remnants of another project.
One of the goals of Slow Fashion is to support 'ZERO WASTE' in the creation of garments. This vest was designed from the remnants of a custom designed belt for an architect, who wanted an attractive, professional utility belt, that would hold all of her design tools. The belt was a success, and, as we can see, so is the vest designed out of the remnants! Kudos to Stormy for bringing this to life in this fabulous photo, turning seeing into believing.
If you want to learn more about how to transform existing garments into new designs, Eco Fashion Sewing (http://www.ecofashionsewing.com), provides tutorials, and highlights designers who are pioneering in the Eco Fashion Industry. Founder Mariana Kirova is reaching out to her local constituency through workshops and speaking opportunities. And to further illustrate the importance of this category of design, she is presenting one of her collections at Australia's Eco Fashion Week in November of this year (see http://www.ecofashionweekaustralia.com).
Mariana is also the author of the E-Guide titled "Create Your Own Designer Clothing from Vintage and Unloved Garments", available on her website. “Women have lots of clothing that they do not wear in their wardrobes, many of which could use a simple technique or embellishment to completely transform them" Mariana observes. "Fast Fashion has become so disposable, it would be a lot gentler on the environment if people learned a few up cycling tricks to re-purpose rather than discard their clothing."