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.
The organic cotton, linen and hemp fabrics, which have been used in the Six Seasons range, have been ethically sourced to ensure environmentally sustainable processes have been utilised in textile production. The notion of biodegradability has also been carefully considered in constructing the garments. Minimal fabric or thread waste from edge trimming has been incorporated into the garment structures as padding or has been recycled into the paper used for swing tags. This paper has been embedded with native seed varieties, which reflect the six seasons, and is designed to be planted to generate new growth. Visual Communication Design students from ‘Studio Zed’ in the School of Creative Industries showcased their skills in designing the Six Seasons logo in consultation with the research team.
Everlasting Daisies (Helipterum roseum) seeds are used in these first samples of swing tags.
These Australian native annuals are hardy and drought tolerant - perfect for sowing from seed in April. The mixed hybrids in this mixture of seeds are a colourful blend of red, white and pink semi double paper daisies.
Planting Instructions - place the tag into a pot or soil in a spot that has full sun. Keep it moist and your seedlings will grow.