Zero Waste Denim - Cutting Edge Approach to Sustainable Design

Zero Waste Denim: Cutting Edge Approach to Sustainable Design

Parsons The New School for Design and Loomstate will showcase a collaboration to create zero waste denim fashions in an exhibition on view at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons, February 8-23, 2011.

Through muslin prototypes, garment patterns, video and photography, the exhibition will provide visitors with a behind-the-scenes look at this cutting-edge approach to sustainable design, which is the focus of a new course of study at Parsons. Through the school's collaboration with Loomstate, Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinlay Hahn's eco-friendly label, they will produce one of the student-designed looks as part of their Fall 2011 collection. The selected look will be announced at the opening reception.

"Zero waste fashion is an innovative design process that produces no fabric waste. In effect, patternmaking becomes an integral part of the process, creating a richer, more sustainable design practice," said Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons.

Timo Rissanen, Parsons new assistant professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability and an expert in zero waste fashion taught this inaugural course. Over a 15-week period this past fall, students learned the intricacies of designing zero waste garments, as well as the unique qualities of designing with organic cotton denim. Scott Mackinlay Hahn and Rogan Gregory, the founders of Loomstate, served as mentors on the project, educating students about such issues as sourcing, dyeing, finishing, and energy consumption with respect to organic denim. The two will continue to serve as mentors to the winning student in the making of the garment from development through final production.

"Parsons produces some of the top talent in the industry, and we were impressed with its commitment to challenging students to rethink the design and manufacturing process within the context of sustainability," said Hahn of Loomstate "We founded Loomstate in 2004 to raise awareness and create demand for certified organic cotton produced through socially and environmentally responsible methods."

Beginning with the design process in its New York studio, Loomstate directly manages all stages of manufacturing, from the fabric mills, to the cut-and-sew and dying facilities, and finally the laundries, to ensure all partners are participating in responsible manufacturing processes. Loomstate works with factories representing the model of excellence of responsible production methods. All Loomstate factory partners are required to adhere to a code of conduct and must use the highest environmental and labor standards, controlling factory pollution, and enforcing fair labor as the cornerstone of the effort. Loomstate uses 100 percent certified organic cotton from various regions of the world such as Turkey, Peru, Africa, India and the USA.

Zero-Waste Fashion is one of a number of sustainable design initiatives in the School of Fashion at Parsons. This spring, students in Parsons MFA Fashion Design and Society program are collaborating with an industry partner to examine ways of extending the life-cycle of a garment; and Parsons AAS Fashion Marketing and students in the Communications Design and Technology programs at Parsons, are collaborating with the innovative advertising agency Droga 5 (the agency behind the "Great Schlep" campaign of the last presidential election), to research sustainable care practices and develop a global branding campaign called "Wash Cold," which focuses on the benefits of washing garments in cold water to save energy. In addition, students in the BFA Fashion Design program are collaborating with students across Parsons in the Solar Decathlon, a biannual global competition to design and build a solar-powered home, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Parsons students will be designing a sustainable wardrobe for inhabitants of the home, which takes into account energy use and consumption.