“Today, fashion relies on linear “take, make, waste” models; often characterised by excessive overproduction, underutilisation and poor disposal. Whilst clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2015, utilisation decreased by 36 per cent during the same period.” So says Global Fashion Agenda’s 2022 Monitor Report, a key industry resource highlighting the imperative need for social and environmental sustainability. With a goal to create net-positive clothes manufacturing by 2050, it asks: how can we reinvent the industry, and work towards a circular economy?
This question is being answered, in part, by the next generation of creatives. Téa Harwood is one of a growing number of designers dedicated to sustainability. Shown here are pieces from Beautifully Strange, a collection of haute couture accessories produced using unconventional materials. Right now, Harwood’s work is part of Creative Uprising, University for the Creative Arts (UCA)’s 2022 Graduate Show. The designer transforms recycled, non-recyclable and discarded objects into embellishments, manipulating them into almost unrecognisable forms. Bright green spikes shoot outwards from a bracelet, for example, whilst delicate face veils are adorned with bright blue tubing. “I have a strong passion for working in a planet positive way,” Harwood says. “I am committed to making a difference within the industry.“
Katrina Harris, whose Fashion ≠ Waste collection is also part of UCA’s showcase, agrees. “The future of fashion has to be more sustainable. My collection uses low waste pattern cutting techniques alongside couture finishing techniques. The idea is to create luxury without harming the planet.” Harris makes each piece completely with deadstock fabrics, sustainable threads and fastenings. Any offcuts are absorbed into matching accessories. It’s a refreshing approach, given that, every second, the equivalent of a rubbish truck load of clothes is burnt or buried in landfill.
This urgent problem extends beyond the world of fashion, with electronics accounting for record 53.6 million metric tonnes of waste worldwide in 2019 (Global E-Waste Monitor, 2022). UCA graduate Zayd Menk hopes to draw attention to this, asking questions about the production, ubiquity and implied disposability of modern consumer technology. Through assemblage and sculpture, Menk explores everything from the questionable ethics of mining precious metals to planned obsolescence and our constant need to ‘update’ to newer models. “Almost all the materials in the sculpture have been discarded or thrown away as waste.” Menk explains.
UCA’s graduate shows fill galleries and open spaces across Farnham, Epsom, Rochester and Canterbury. The innovative presentations showcase emerging talent across a range of disciplines, from gaming, animation and film, to fashion, architecture and design.
Discover more at gradshows.uca.ac.uk or in person at on-campus graduate takeovers.
UCA Epsom takeover: 8 June – 7 July 2022
UCA Farnham takeover: 9 June – 7 July 2022
UCA Rochester takeover: 10 June – 7 July 2022
UCA Canterbury takeover: 11 June – 7 July 2022
1. ©Téa Harwood ‘Beautifully Strange’ BA (Hons) Textiles Design, UCA Farnham.
2. Katrina Harris, BA (Hons) Fashion Atelier, Fashion ≠ Waste.
3. ©Téa Harwood ‘Beautifully Strange’ BA (Hons) Textiles Design, UCA Farnham.
4. Zayd Menk, BA (Hons) Fine Art.
5. ©Téa Harwood ‘Beautifully Strange’ BA (Hons) Textiles Design, UCA Farnham.
6. Katrina Harris, BA (Hons) Fashion Atelier, Fashion ≠ Waste.