SIX SEASONS PROJECT
UPDATE Hooray! This project shared FIRST PRIZE in the inaugural We The Makers 2020 design festival (National Wool Museum, VIC) - see the virtual exhibition here -!
Six Seasons is a sustainable fashion initiative, collaboratively developed by Newcastle fashion design team at High Tea with Mrs Woo and researchers from the School of Creative Industries (SOCI) at The University of Newcastle (UoN).
High Tea with Mrs Woo is a clothing label by sisters Rowena, Juliana and Angela Foong, who have long aligned their beautifully crafted work with slow fashion values. Their collaboration with researchers from the University of Newcastle arose through the shared desire to experiment with new developments in sustainable fashion, particularly in applying innovative solutions to low-waste pattern layout and print technology. Supported through a SOCI RAPID grant, the team identified three key objectives to their approach:
1. Designing to minimise fabric offcuts, through low-waste pattern layouts.
2. The selection of natural fibre textile fabrics and the innovative application of direct digital printing techniques, using eco-friendly inks.
3. Encouraging inclusive and customised production, which would allow the user to be involved in the creation of their garment.
In keeping with these aims, the group’s pilot Six Seasons designs are grounded in the desire to create environmentally sustainable garments that inclusively fit a range of body shapes, are gender neutral, and flexibly adapt to changing climate conditions. Designing to suit the seasonal shifts of the Australian environment has been a key reference point, which has resulted in loose, layered garments in cotton, linen or hemp. These natural fabrics allow the body to breathe and the designs provide the wearer with options to create different looks, which respond comfortably to changing weather conditions.
The group has sought to eliminate fabric waste through meticulously planned zero-waste garment designs, which have been sustainably printed on selected natural fabrics. The direct digital printing of individual garment components within the zero-waste layout is an innovative part of this process, which avoids the fabric offcuts that result from pattern matching or conforming to the fabric ‘grain’ during cutting. This also allows for creative and flexible customisation in colour choices and fabric patterning. Digital printing requires minimal water usage and removes the necessity of repeated dye rinsing, making this process a much more environmentally sustainable choice.
Fabric designs for the project have evolved from hand-painted responses to the natural landscape by artist Brett McMahon and incorporate a colour palette derived from seasonal Australian native plants and environmental observations. The group respectfully acknowledges the traditional seasonal divides outlined by Indigenous Australians and how these provide a map to changing weather conditions and the related cycles of plant life in the Hunter region and throughout Australia.
IN CONVERSATION WITH DR FAYE NEILSON
Australian Fashion Council blog - https://ausfashioncouncil.com/council-of-textile-fashion-blog/wethemakerswinners2020