In December 2023, HEREWEAR took a trip to Paris for a 2-week intensive workshop on the notion of ‘new know-hows’. The HEREWEAR tools and insights were presented to a group of 9 textile design students who took them on to develop concepts and prototypes for bio-based, local, and circular textiles and fashion.

ENSAD Paris – Photo credit: ENSAD

The collaboration kicked off with a day and a half of immersion in the HEREWEAR tools, using our design inspiration toolkit. This introduction delved into each of the three HEREWEAR themes, starting with an introduction to bio-based materials using the HEREWEAR sample collection and the lifecycle map to enhance discussion on the value and uses of bio-based materials. Then the students were introduced to the BIO TEN design guidelines and took on a short design sprint with this inspiration to freely explore concepts for fashion. The local element was developed in a third presentation and activity led by Frédérique Thureau (TCBL), questioning the scale, scope, space, and social dimensions of local.

The students quickly applied these ideas by exploring their local ecosystems and defining their strengths and lacks. To reinforce this theoretical background, practical connections were presented in three-morning talks given by HEREWEAR partners in the first week of the collaboration. Vretena showed how the BIO TEN shaped their brand development, Mitwill gave an overview of their micro-factory and local design to production work in action, and Mai Bine presented the social and mindset-shifting work as a core part of their enterprise. All of this input was food for thought for the students to develop their approach to bio, local, and circular textiles.

Students discussion their work in a project crit – Photo credit: Laetitia Forst

This collaboration’s most exciting aspect was a strong focus on applying the HEREWEAR concepts to material samples and prototypes, supported by conceptual scenarios to envision the sector’s future. In groups of 2 or 3, the students developed ideas inspired by the initial activities and most strongly by the BIO TEN as a set of design inspiration cards. They were entirely free to explore the subjects that resonated most with their practice and interests, which led to varied propositions from each of the three groups. While one group went down a material-driven innovation path, exploring the properties of wool and PLA when combined, others took a more systemic route by addressing the challenges of traceability in supply chains through storytelling. All groups spent most of their time in the university studios, experimenting with knitting, weaving, printing, heat treatments, and felting.

‘From old jumpers to new rugs’ project team – Photo credit: Laetitia Forst

Project ‘From old jumpers to new rugs’ tackles the prickly issue of non-recyclable garment waste, addressing the challenge of highly blended jumpers which are a prevalent problem for this product category. The group took it in their stride to recover and remanufacture this source of materials in ways that would extend their use. The greatest challenge was to find an efficient way of deconstructing the jumpers to a state where the aesthetics could be rebuilt to fit a more modern taste. Experiments with extracting the fibre were parked in favour of focusing on disassembly at the yarn level. The team defined their method to select and unravel jumpers that could provide one long yarn and then this was recombined with other yarns, either new or from other jumpers, to create twisted yarns to weave into bright fabrics. Twisting different colours or textures of yarn together gave the materials a new aesthetic far removed from the original jumpers. This process meant that several jumpers could be combined to create a collection of interior textiles. A further lifecycle extension step was imagined by using the shorter yarns to embroider over stains or signs of wear. This concept shows an avenue for post-consumer, non-resalable and non-recyclable jumpers to be used further and diverted from waste.

‘Travelling Textiles’ project team – Photo Credit: Laetitia Forst

The ’Travelling Textiles’ project explored transparency and traceability in the fashion textile supply chain from a storytelling perspective. The project explored ways of bringing an experiential element to traceability systems that offers more than the current ‘nutritional score’ approach of traceability systems. This project aimed to visualise the different stages of the garment lifecycle throughout its production with a stamp system to apply to a revisited label. The proposition took the form of a low-tech kit for the whole supply chain to engage with transparency. Several scenarios for the use of this approach were put forward, from a hyper-local natural material product to a more global and networked biosynthetic product. The concept offers a speculative design perspective on the current challenges faced in the industry.

‘Bi-Product Wool’ project team – Photo credit: Laetitia Forst

‘Bi-product Wool’ uses undervalued wool from breeds farmed for their meat. As a rule of thumb, when an animal is bred for its meat, the quality of its fur isn’t to the highest standard, this means that there is an abundance of sheep’s wool which is not suitable for clothing, and that generally ends up incinerated. This group explored how this resource could be put to use in interior design by combining it with the HEREWEAR PLA to make a semi-rigid material that can be laser-cut and assembled into panels with unique acoustic properties. Multiple tests were carried out to determine the best blend proportions and techniques. The learning journey was recorded as recommendations for other makers interested in circular wool.

Overall, the projects took very different and complementary views on the HEREWEAR themes, showing how they can be used to guide a holistic approach to sustainable design.

 

 

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