Image: An estimated 85% of clothing ends up in landfills (Simple Recycling)
The project, called Space Between, operates online through the Space Between shop and information site, and in a studio space at Wellington’s Massey University. Research lecturers, student employees and designers work together in investigation and design to change the way we think about consumerism and pave the way for a more sustainable future.
Director and principal investigator Jennifer Whitty says a key point of difference is transparency – in the process, not the clothes.
“Space Between does away with the grey area in terms of how things are made and why they cost what they do”.
Whitty said the ‘upcycling’ concept put into practice by Space Between is age-old; the momentum it is gaining today is largely due to a need for change in the industry.
“Clothing has never been as cheap as it is today”.
The scheme has two distinct strands; ‘Fundamentals’ and ‘Fashion lab’.
‘Fundamentals’ is a range of clothing designs created locally from industrial clothing waste, while fashion lab uses new research strategies to shift fashion towards zero waste. Designers within this scheme are given guidance in developing their own collections in alignment with the philosophies held by Space Between.
Collaboration with New Zealand Post has allowed Space Between to kick-start their Fundamentals range. Post-consumer waste is targeted through use of obsolete items of their uniforms, which are frequently redesigned.
Image: Space Between ‘Pieced black leggings’ are made of upcycled NZ Post Uniform
“Working with already-made clothing is much more complicated and time consuming – this is reflected in the prices, which we explain through information provided online with each garment,” Whitty explains.
The Fashion Lab strand of the collaborative venture involves researchers and designers, developing and using strategies that shift fashion towards zero waste.
One of those involved is researcher and designer Annie Dry. A period of investigating sustainable fashion brought Annie to Space Between, which she recognized as a unique opportunity.
“The more research I did, the more I realized the size of the footprint that fashion has on the environment. As a designer, I just couldn’t function in that kind of environment”.
With the guidance of the Space Between Fashion Lab, Annie is designing a range of women’s clothing that will be showcased with Space Between’s work at Wellington’s Go Green Expo.
Annie doesn’t fit into the student bracket, yet she recognizes the value in making students question the nature and impact of the fashion industry with modern-day low prices and rapid consumption.
“We really can make an impact on the way things are at the moment – which is not sustainable nor ethical. Its not something that is on a lot of people’s radar”.
Space Between has gotten off to a solid start, with a growing profit from their online store, which has been up and running for around a month.
The Go Green expo in Wellington is just one of the ventures planned by the Space Between group, who are aiming to bring to public attention the exponential waste caused by the fashion industry.
As Jennifer points out, the venture, like our awareness of the fashion industry’s issues, has a lot of space to grow.