Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change and 3 Ways You can Play a Small Part

November 16, 2014

Whenever I wear this polka dotted blue dress, I always feel fantastic. It's made with light, silky material, buttons all the way up to the top, and has a flattering synched waist.
You'll never guess how long I've had this dress.

Almost five years! Now for those of you who are thinking that is too long, or that it is dress might be out of fashion...let me tell you something about that. Polka dots are forever timeless, and wearing something that makes you feel and look fabulous is always in style. (See the 2015 runway or just reference Givinchy and Dior who designed with polka dots since the early 1950's).

Yesterday, I attended the lecture: FASHION AND SUSTAINABILITY: DESIGN FOR CHANGE with Lynda Grose, Associate Professor, Fashion Design, California College of the Arts.

I learned about 3 major movements happening in fashion design, and felt so inspired that even if it's just a little, am going to try and apply these into my own life and wardrobe. Did you know, that
...on average, every US citizen throws away 68 pounds of clothing every year.
Wow, that is a lot to keep filling up our landfills - which brings me to the first point:

1. Waste Reduction

The first movement for sustainable design, is waste reduction. Fashion designers like Mark Liu and Holly Mquillan are focusing on using all of the fabric cut from patterns, and repurposing older pieces of clothing into new ones. Laser cutting technology helps with this new aesthetic.

2. Wash Less

Be considerate of climate change! California is in a serious drought, and whether you think it affects you or not, just know that it does. The second movement for sustainable design is conservation. Designers are now encouraging cold washes and designing clothing that doesn't require frequent washes. This image on the below right is pre-stained ;)

Three pieces from the Energy Water Fashion range of clothing by Emma Rigby, designed to reduce washing through deliberate labeling (the dress), fit (the pants), and the use of low-laundering fiber (knitted top). (Photo by Lukas Demgenski, from “Fashion & Sustainability”)

3. Reuse & Recycle

Lynda Grose among others is curious and horrified at the amount of shopping that is happening all over the world. Why do we need to keep shopping and buying new things, just to throw them out again? Using Sex and the City as an example, the media glorifies high amounts of spending and shopping without a thought as to the effect or impact on our climate.

Grose went on to tell a story of her favorite green dress, that was stained with strawberry juice at a friend's wedding. Red against green, the stain would not come out of the beautiful vintage piece no matter how hard she tried.

Finally, she came to a brilliant conclusion and embroidered a positive memory from the day over the stain. It turned out beautifully and now she has a remarkable heirloom to pass down to her daughter.

A faculty member models the green dress.
So inspired, I will continue to take care of this polka dot dress, repairing it as needed, and refreshing with more timeless accessories like these colorful frames in Honey from Linda Farrow.

Unfortunately, it is cheaper to buy new clothing than to repair older favorites, so this holiday season, think about giving the gift of a vintage hand-me-down, one of your favorite pieces that perhaps doesn't fit anymore, or give the gift of repairing - having something tailored, sewn, fixed, or cleaned for someone else so that something loved can be worn again.

I'm hoping this polka dot dress will last another 5 falls to come, to be worn and loved and to serve as a reminder for appreciation, and for conservation - and for taking care of the products we own.

Let me know if you have any favorite vintage pieces and how long they've been around. Would love to hear your stories!

XO -Julia

Thanks for reading! For more reviews and updates, subscribe in the sidebar or follow me here on Instagram and Twitter. Also a big thanks and photo credit to Owen Geronimo for this photoshoot.

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