From the 9th to the 13th of January 2023, the HEREWEAR project was represented at Heimtextil, the annual meeting for the home textiles industry, in Frankfurt. UAL was asked by Franklin Till, the agency in charge of defining the trends for this season, to contribute with an interactive piece that would start conversations around the theme of “Make and Remake”. This year, the trend area offered a radical approach to materials rooted in sustainability and asking how sourcing, making, reusing, and remaking materials can be done in harmony with planetary boundaries. Four themes were put forward as complementary lenses to this challenge. The Make and Remake theme celebrate the reuse of deadstock and remnant textiles into beautiful and desirable textiles and products. This opportunity was used to experiment with the three pillars of HEREWEAR, bio-based, circular, and local, in practice through various textile-making techniques. The space presented two key elements to nurture discussion relevant to the project.

Becky Earley and Laetitia Forst at the Make and Remake stand. (Credit: Becky Earley)

Three pieces representing each design with Biobased, Circular, and Local at the core of the concept were shown in the trend area. Following the theme of Make and ReMake, the pieces were all made with waste textiles from Camira Fabrics, using the decommissioned showroom samples from this UK furnishing materials manufacturer. The small squares of materials are a challenging type of waste to use for new applications. Using a modular textile-making approach overcomes this difficulty with techniques that makes an ensemble from multiple laser-cut patches, combining colours and texture for a vibrant piece. All the pieces were made using techniques from Dr. Laetitia Forst’s doctoral research on Textile Design for Disassembly for a circular textile economy, enabling deconstruction for recycling or repair.

Credit: Becky Earley

Three textile pieces made to demonstrate Biobased (left), Circular (middle), and Local (right) concepts in textiles design using design for disassembly techniques. (Credit: Laetitia Forst)

The Biobased piece used Camira samples together with paper-like ‘textile locks’ made from a blend of PLA and cellulose fibres. These are cut into graphic triangles that are slotted into the patches of reclaimed textiles holding them together. This piece highlights the potential for biobased materials to contribute to circular textile systems in combination with recycled synthetics. When the material is no longer needed, the biobased locks can be removed and composted while the rest is reused or recycled in a technical cycle.

The Circular piece considers the use of modular elements to extend the lifecycle of textiles. Triangles were cut from the Camira samples and assembled into a repetitive surface that can be extended or reduced when needed, offering the opportunity to replace parts when they get worn or stained, conferring longevity to the whole.

The Local piece used print to provide cultural relevance to the remade textiles. The Camira samples were laser cut into modules that are then printed and combined to create a patchwork of patterns.

Heimtextil visitors participating in making the collaborative piece by assembling laser-cut and printed modules (Credit: Laetitia Forst)

The collaborative piece developed to engage the show visitors was an expansion on the Local piece presented alongside the Biobased and Circular textiles. It uses the same technique but at a larger scale to enable participants to take part in the making more easily. The Heimtextil trade show provided the setting for an experiment on perceptions of local print and its use in remanufacturing and remaking textiles. The UAL team worked together with textile designer Amelia Graham to produce a series of prints based on visual inspiration from HEREWEAR partner’s home town’s craft and heritage.

Triangulating three key images into a new contemporary print asks whether users might find a textile product more emotionally relevant if they can recognise familiar shapes and patterns within it, while still being in tune with modern trends and colours. Five localities were chosen: Barcelona in Spain, Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria, Iasi in Romania, Binche in Belgium, and Wiltshire in England. Participants could pick their favourite pattern, then heat-transfer it onto laser cut modular patches, and then assemble it to a growing collective ‘multi-local’ textile piece. This interaction provided a hook to start conversations with the textile industry stakeholders visiting the fair. Many questions related to the scalability of such practice.

In the HEREWEAR project, we are aware that this is a key challenge. There is no simple answer, but networked manufacturing, the proliferation of micro-factories, and the circulation of resources in industrial ecology systems are part of the vision for the future of textiles. The piece presented at Heimtextil showed how textile design practice could provide ways of using the waste of large-scale manufacture at a local level with cultural relevance, the next steps will be to develop this thinking in line with the guidelines for lifecycle extension and circular design developed in HEREWEAR.

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