The History of Zero Waste in Fashion

Jenny Tiramani Monday, 1 July 2019

"Zero waste" might be a popular buzzword these days, but the practices behind it have been around for millennia. Thanks to the crucial research of historians like Jenny Tiramani and The School of Historical Dress, we’re able to incorporate ideas and practices from earlier eras of clothing production into what we make today. In times when resources were less easily attainable and people worked in closer contact with raw materials, wasteful habits were uncommon, even frowned upon. From pattern cutting, to textile production, to hand-me-downs - this lesson uses specific examples of historical garments to find out where we started to use our resources more flippantly and to seek practical techniques that will revive less-wasteful practices, for a more sustainable fashion future. 

About the speaker:

Jenny Tiramani is an award-winning costume and stage designer and a leading researcher in historical costume practices. She is also the Principal of The School of Historical Dress, which boasts Dame Vivienne Westwood among its patrons. Jenny has designed and made costumes everywhere from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London to the Belasco Theatre on Broadway, where she won a Tony Award for ‘Best Costume Design in a Play’.

Find Jenny and The School of Historical Dress at:

Instagram: @theschoolofhistoricaldress1

In this video you'll learn:

  • The origins of wasteful practices in fashion design
  • Sources to explore for zero waste fashion inspiration
  • Four practices that can help solve our fashion industry's waste problem
  • How Jenny envisages the designers of the future will apply these historic techniques

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Next Lesson

  • Zero Waste Fashion Designers

    with Charlie Bradley Ross

    For the first time, Avantex Paris played host to the Zero Waste Fashion Designers (Z429), a designers' collective from Spain, the Netherlands and Vietnam. Invited by the French label Milan AV-JC, the collection presented by the eleven zero-waste brands was developed in accordance with zero waste design principles, keeping offcuts to a minimum, if at all.

    Avantex Paris is the international high-tech and innovative textiles trade show. The show was launched in response to today's consumer desire to reconcile fashion with the changing society they live in. The Zero Waste Design area was set up at the heart of the show in order to showcase innovations that help avoid waste in the industry. 

    Here you can watch the full catwalk show that took place at Avantex and take inspiration from the cutting edge, zero-waste designs that went on display.