Recent MA Textile Design Rhiannon Hunt has won the inaugural SCAP Extending the Life of Clothes Design Award, awarded by the WRAP. Open to students and professional UK textile and fashion designers, the award allows the winner to progress their work and develop it for a commercial market as well as win a £5,000 prize. Rhiannon’s commitment to sustainability through textiles and her versatile and imaginative project impressed the expert panel of industry professionals and academics. We caught up with Rhiannon to find out more about her winning project.
First of all congratulations with your recent win. How did you find out about and get involved in the WRAP competition?
I saw the details for the competition in an Ethical Fashion Forum email and, as sustainability always plays a significant role in my work as a designer, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take on a new challenge, tackling textile waste and the notion of ‘fast fashion’.
Could you tell us a little about what you proposed and the next steps of realising it as a project?
Taking inspiration from the built environment, the garments are designed so that the method of construction is apparent. Whilst the basic elements of each piece are sewn together using traditional methods, certain sections, including box pleats, panels, waistbands and hemlines, are instead joined with detachable fastenings. This enables wearers to easily adjust the size, fit, style and/or length of each garment themselves.
I hoped that this added interaction, personalisation and creativity will help to strengthen the bond between wearer and garment. The fastenings are completely reusable, as they are easily detached, repositioned and even swapped between garments. This allows the fastenings to be made from a range of durable materials, including precious metals, for example, which would be kept and then handed down.
For this submission, the fastenings were constructed from a biodegradable 3D printing filament to allow for an additional level of customisation through technology. Further to this, the fabrics (organic cotton and tencel) used to make the main body of each garment are both renewable and biodegradable. This allows for the fabric to be composted at the end of the garment’s functional life.
You recently graduated (2014) from the Chelsea MA Textile Design course. How do you feel your MA at Chelsea helped prepared you for industry competitions like these?
My MA degree at Chelsea really supported and developed my ability to think critically about the materials and processes I was incorporating into my designs. I had the time and access to facilities that allowed me to experiment with a range of textiles and develop innovative solutions to issues associated with sustainability and the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.
What’s your plan for the next 12 months?
Over the next year I hope to continue to develop my career in sustainable textiles.
Design board, courtesy of the artist.
We look forward to seeing Rhiannon’s ambitious textile collection develop over the next year.
Find out more about the Chelsea MA Textile Design course.