Interview with Extending the Life of Clothes Award Winner!
We love championing up and coming eco designers here at Offset Warehouse. Rhiannon Hunt first came to our attention when she used our fabrics during her Masters Project at Chelsea College of Art. (More about that later.) Then our ears pricked up when we saw her name announced as the winner of the first WRAP run - SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Award.
What is the Award?
The SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Award was open to final year fashion and textile design undergraduates, MA students and professional, industry fashion and textile designers that live, work or study in England.
- Submissions were assessed by an expert panel of industry professionals and academics.
- A prize of £5,000 and an award was presented to the winner, as well as an opportunity to develop their ideas to progress their work and develop it for a commercial market.
There's a lot of acronyms here... what on earth is SCAP?
SCAP, short for the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, was set up by WRAP (..still not helping the acronyms here). The aim of SCAP is to improve the sustainability of clothing across its lifecycle. By bringing together industry leaders, the government and the third sector, their goal is to reduce resource use and secure "recognition for corporate performance by developing sector-wide targets"... i.e., give kudos to companies who can reduce wastefulness.
The companies who sign up to the SCAP 2020 Commitment have pledged to play their part in reducing the carbon, waste and water footprints of clothing they supply or receive in the UK, starting from a baseline year of 2012 but even for clothing companies that have not signed up to SCAP 2020 commitment, there is still a good business case for reducing resource use.
We caught up with this year's winner, Rhiannon, to find out more about this exciting competition win and her future plans.
So, Rhiannon, tell us about your entry.
Taking inspiration from the built environment, my garments are designed so that the method of construction is obvious: whilst the basic elements of each piece are sewn together using traditional methods, certain sections, such as box pleats, panels, waistbands and hemlines, are joined with detachable fastenings instead. This enables wearers to easily adjust the size, fit, style and/or length of each garment themselves.
The aim is that this added interaction, personalisation and creativity strengthens the bond between the wearer and garment.
What was it like to win?
I entered the competition as the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) seemed like a really interesting initiative to get involved in, especially given my background in sustainability and design. I never expected to be a finalist though so I was really surprised (and excited) when my name was called out as the winner.
What caught the Judges eye about your work?
Marcus Gover, Director at WRAP and award judge, said: “All finalists delivered fantastic ideas, however, it was clear to see that Rhiannon’s concept not only met the brief but was backed by a genuine interest in sustainability. She demonstrated a real understanding of the issues. Having forward thinking, innovative designers like Rhiannon - and our finalists - in the fashion industry, puts us in a really good place to extend the life of clothes.”
Greg Tufnell, Chairman of HGA Group and award judge, said: "Rhiannon's concept and presentation stood out for several reasons. In particular the very considered, detailed and knowledgeable approach combined with her clear passion and commitment to the cause set her apart from the entries. It is these qualities that will give Rhiannon a very real chance of turning her idea in to a reality.
Read more about their response here.
How is WRAP going to help you with your next steps?
WRAP and the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan are really working to bring sustainability to the forefront of the fashion agenda, which is great. As well as promoting my design entry, they have generously offered ongoing support and £5000 prize money, which will all help towards making my designs a reality.
We loved the way you used our Banana Fabric in your Masters Project, can you tell us a bit more about that?
I have a background in environmental science and sustainability so I try to incorporate this experience into my design process.
My thesis set out to address the environmental challenges faced by the fashion industry through innovative, yet practical design solutions. Inspired by concepts, such as industrial symbiosis and circular economies, the initial stages of the project involved extensive research and the sourcing of materials from around the globe. Having built an extensive catalogue of fabrics derived form agricultural waste materials, including salmon leather, pineapple silk and offset warehouse's banana fabric, it was possible to proceed with design development.
Inspiration for the garment and accessory designs came from a variety of sources, including the fragility of ecosystems and the continuity of natural cycles within the environment, as well as the inherent qualities of the materials themselves. My research culminated in a successful final collection, comprising naturally dyed yarns, hand embroidery, knit and appliqué.
Thanks Rhiannon! We sure this won't be the last we're hearing your name in the world of sustainable fashion!. If you want to find out more about Rhiannon's work, you can check out her website. Find out more about Rhiannon's SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Award entry and all the other finalist here.
If you are an eco designer yourself, make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the next SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Award!
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