YIELD: Making Fashion Without Making Waste

Approximately fifteen percent of the fabric used to create a piece of clothing ends up in a landfill, but the zero waste fashion design movement aims to change this. In YIELD, we see the work of passionate New Zealand and international fashion designers who have a radical ambition – to make fashion without making waste. Zero waste fashion focuses on creating clothes that look good, but leave little or no waste. Historically, all clothes were designed to minimise waste. Left over fabric was never thrown out and patterns were designed like a puzzle, as seen in the Japanese kimono. The industrial revolution changed this approach as cloth became cheaper and seemingly easier to throw away. Zero waste clothing began reappearing in the first half of the 20th century. Contemporary pioneers such as Zandra Rhodes emerged in the 1970s and since then, more designers have started experimenting with designs and smart techniques to eliminate waste – without sacrificing style. One such technique is to create a garment pattern, with gussets, pockets, collars and trims, that fits together like a puzzle. Another is to not cut the fabric, but drape it onto a mannequin, then tuck, layer and sew. Today, zero waste has become a focus for top fashion schools and an inspiration of the truly fashion forward.

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A defining aspect of YIELD is the inclusion of the garment patterns as both proof and blueprints tracing the design process. The garment design and making process is revealed, something that is usually hidden behind the gauzy seduction of fashion imagery. Additionally the exhibition design further reveals the zero-waste garment design process as the garments arise out of the patterns, are built up from the pattern, these garments do not begin with an image, they begin with a plan.

The exhibition is sponsored by Purfex Mannequins and PSP who supplied the 100% recycled and re-pulpable, light weight board that all the patterns are printed on and the stools are made from.

The design of the Yield exhibition was a collaboration between Industrial Designer Chris Jackson and Graphic Designer Gerbrand van Melle who was assisted by Thomas le Bas in the execution of the information design and exhibition identity.

The aim of the design was to produce a platform for the garments whilst mirroring the integrity of their production. It was essential that the design used materials with sustainable credentials whilst also using the minimum amount of material for maximum effect. At the same time the designers wanted to give visitors a 360° view of each garment whilst providing a physical barrier to prevent touching of the exhibits, shunning the notion of aligning mannequins against walls with accompanying text plaques, guide ropes and ‘do not touch’ signs.

Sheets of Xanita board display the garment patterns in the largest relative format, with exhibits hovering directly above, communicating the transformation from two to three dimensions. Titles and information appear at the bottom of each board, with Kris Sowersby’s typeface, ‘Karbon Slab‘, being used throughout. QR codes ergonomically positioned at the top right corner of each board enable the viewer to link to further dynamic information through the web presence with the use of a smart phone and QR code reader.

Yield:Making Fashion Without Making Waste opened in The Dowse Art Museum on the 26th of March 2011 and at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn New York in September 2011.

Curated by: Holly McQuillan and Timo Rissanen.

Exhibition Design: Chris Jackson

Graphic Design: Gerbrand Van Melle

Digital Design: Thomas Le Bas

Photography: Thomas McQuillan

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