Yield is curated by Holly McQuillan, from Massey University Wellington, and Timo Rissanen, from the prestigious Parsons The New School for Design, New York (the inspiration for the television show, Project Runway) who are also designers in the show. They share a passion for reducing waste without compromising style. The exhibition’s innovative design is by Massey University School of Design Lecturer, Chris Jackson with graphic design by Gerbrand van Melle.
Zandra Rhodes, Yeohlee Teng (Yeohlee), Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan, Jennifer Whitty, David Telfer, Julian Roberts, Caroline Priebe (Uluru), Carla Fernandez (Flora2), Tara St James and Natalie Chanin (Alabama Chanin) are leaders in their field who have all sought intelligent means to reduce waste, sometimes creating patterns that fit together like a puzzle, or require no cutting at all.
The term zero-waste describes a way of designing clothes where there is no scrap left after the cutting out - currently, 15% of the fabric is wasted. The concept, says Timo, is not new, in fact it is probably as old as clothes themselves. Prior to the industrial age, fabric was treasured and it was commonplace to think carefully about length and width, with every last scrap innovatively put to work. There was also an appreciation of the energy and time that went into producing a garment, says Holly. Bulk purchasing of fabric now means there is no financial incentive to be frugal and as clothes become more affordable, there is an increase in consumption and disposal. Another barrier to reducing waste is that fashion-design and pattern-making are often segregated; in many cases even taking place in different countries.
“I basically had to learn to design again,” Timo told the New York Times of his initial forays into zero-waste. “The first year and a half was a lot of trial and error.” Timo has a special interest in jeans which are noted for being the most wasteful of fashion items.
Yeohlee Teng, Zero Waste Sarong, YEOHLEE Fall 2009. Courtesy of Yeohlee Teng | Holly McQuillan, Twinset, 2010 (Textile design by Genevieve Packer). Courtesy of Holly McQuillan | Zandra Rhodes, Chinese Squares, Chinese Collection Spring / Summer 1980. Copyright Zandra Rhodes. Collection of the San Diego History Center. Gift of Lucretia G Morrow. Photo: Copyright Chris Travers, San Diego History Center
Zandra Rhodes, the Princess of Punk, was one of the new wave of UK designers who put London at the forefront of fashion in the 1970s. In the mid 1960s, however, her early textile designs were considered too outrageous by London manufacturers, so she decided to make her own fabrics. In 1967, she opened her first shop, with Sylvia Ayton, The Fulham Road Clothes Shop in London. In 1969, she set up her very own store and took her collection to New York where it featured in American Vogue. In 1972, Zandra was awarded UK Designer of the Year. She was made Royal Designer for Industry in 1974 and in 1975, opened a shop off Bond Street. Since then she has designed for clients as diverse as Princess Diana, Jackie Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Freddie Mercury, Kylie Minogue, Paris Hilton, Isabella Blow, Helen Mirren and Joan Rivers. She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1997 and has nine honorary doctorates. Zandra set up London’s Fashion and Textile Museum which opened in 2003. www.zandrarhodes.com
Yeohlee Teng moved to New York from Malayasia to study fashion at Parsons and in 1981 established her own fashion house, YEOHLEE. Her designs have earned a permanent place in the Costume Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Yeohlee’s designs are driven by material, maximizing the use of each fabric by consideration of weight, texture, colour and finishing. She “manages to synthesize style into a poetry about the possibility of fabric”, says Richard Flood, Chief Curator of New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art. Yeohlee has exhibited widely: at the Aedes EastGallery in Berlin; the Netherland Architecture Institute in Rotterdam; the Galleria Museum, the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris; the V&A and the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, to name a few. http://yeohlee.com
Timo Rissanen is a Finnish designer who was recently appointed the first ever Assistant Professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability at Parsons The New School for Design, New York. He previously taught fashion design in Australia and from 2001-2004, he owned and designed for Usvsu, a menswear label in Sydney. Timo’s fashion design practice is informed by inquisitive patternmaking and cutting. His PhD project is titled ‘Fashion Creation Without Fabric Waste Creation’ and he presented a collection of menswear from the project in an exhibition titled Bad Dogs in Sydney in 2008. Timo has also presented at several international conferences and contributed a chapter to Sustainable Fashion. Why Now? (Fairchild Books, 2008). He co-curated Fashioning Now in Australia and a book, Shaping Sustainable Fashion, drawing from the project, will be published in January 2011. Timo is co-curator of Yield with Holly McQuillan. zerofabricwastefashion.blogspot.com
Holly McQuillan is a Lecturer in Fashion Design at Massey University’s College of Creative Arts in Wellington. She recalls being a ‘maths geek’ at school who planned on becoming an architect. Since completing her Masters of Design, which explored the presentation of cultural memory through garment design, her work has focused has focused on designing zero-waste garments. She presented her research at IFFTI 2009, featured previously at The Dowse in Hothouse Season 3 and at the Seoul Fashion Art Biennale, 2010. Holly is profiled in the book Eco Fashion by Sass Brown and has contributed to Shaping Sustainable Fashion (out January 2011) edited by Timo Rissanen and Alison Gwilt. Her work for Yield is a collaboration with Wellington designer Gen Packer. Holly is co-curator of Yield with Timo Rissanen.
Jennifer Whitty is also a Senior Lecturer at Massey University. Prior to moving to New Zealand, she lectured at the Limerick School of Art and Design, Ireland but has sought a broad experience in fashion, working globally across different sectors of the industry. Her craft was honed as a bespoke tailor’s apprentice at Louis Copeland, Dublin, and as a designer for Magee of Donegal.
Sam Formo is from San Francisco but spent the better part of the 1980s and 1990s in New York. The punk and new wave scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s sparked his interest in fashion design. In 1999, he chose the City College of San Francisco to study fashion because of the college’s approach to sustainable and conceptual design. Sam’s aesthetic is ‘vintage-punk rock queen from outer space here on holiday’. His collection is constructed out of recycled materials as well as a mixture of high-performance and high-tech textiles and natural fibers. He has developed a no-waste pattern. www.cca.edu/academics/fashion-design/show/designers#Samuel
David Telfer is a UK menswear designer currently employed by COS (cosstores.com). He has developed innovative ways to address sustainability with systems such as Minimal Seam Construction, a DIY garment kit, heat moulding and 1 piece construction. His designs and philosophies focus on: LESS SEAMS=LESS MANUFACTURE TIME=LESS COST=INCREASE WAGES http://davidtelfer.co.uk
Julian Roberts is a fashion designer and film-maker in the UK who has shown 13 collections at London Fashion Week under five label names: nothing nothing, JULIANAND, Julian and Sophie, Parc deS EXpositions and Tunnel Technique. He has won the British Fashion Council's 'New Generation Award five times. Julian is currently Fashion Host of BBC Blast online and is the inventor of a garment pattern cutting method called 'Subtraction Cutting'. Julian was awarded a Professorship and set up the new fashion school at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK in 2004 and now lectures MA Mixed Media Textiles at the Royal College of Art in London, and at several prestigious Art & Design universities worldwide. www.julianand.com
Caroline Priebe, through her label Uluru, focuses on dramatic silhouettes and detailed stitching and works in cashmeres, silks and hemp fabrics. Caroline is “attempting not to add to the current consumption disease.” When creating pieces, Priebe saves every scrap of fabrics and “upcycles” all of the previous years’ scrap remnants into the details and finishings on her new garments. By ensuring that every possible piece of fabric is used in some way, Priebe is able to bring her zerowaste collections to market. www.ulurunyc.com/bio.html
Carla Fernandez is based in Mexico City and grew up in a town by Laredo, near the Texan border where she used to buy traditional pieces from artisans. When she went to fashion school, Carla noticed that none of the intricate traditional techniques figured into the curriculum - unlike the Western model of pattern-making, indigenous clothes are based on a geometric system. Clothes are pieced together from large rectangular shapes, triangles and squares—the most iconic of which is called the Huipil. Fernandez has crafted her label Flora2, using these traditional forms as a basis, and likes to think of her operation as a travelling laboratory. www.flora2.com
Tara St James heads the creative collective Study NY. Formerly the creative director of Covet, Tara produces a small collection of sustainable clothing within the collective, which also produces jewellery, graphic design, photography, music, video and fine art, all with the ethos of sustainable production. The aim is to use recycled and organic materials as much as possible, while leaving as little a carbon footprint as is manageable. www.ecouterre.com/study-by-tara-st-james-at-new-yorkfashion-week
Natalie (Alabama) Chanin‘s motto is “Life is in the details.” All of the products produced under her name are made by hand using a combination of new, organic and recycled material. All of the stitchers who create Chanin’s homespun garments work from their own houses and live within an hour-and-a-half radius of her family and business base of Florence, Alabama. They use organic materials grown and produced in the US http://alabamachanin.com/