Could seaweed replace plastics to create eco-friendly fashion?
MA Fashion Futures student Fiona Fung recently found out that she is a finalist in the Kering Award. Set by luxury group Kering, which includes the likes of Stella McCartney, the award asks LCF students to propose new ideas and projects for the future of fashion which build a more sustainable fashion system.
Fiona revealed all about her project which, incredibly, could lead to seaweed being used as replacement for plastics to create eco-friendly luxury fashion.
LCF News: What’s the project that you’ve proposed to Kering?
Fiona Fung: My proposition is research development into kelp and seaweed as a replacement for thermoplastics in Stella McCartney, one that can hopefully work across the system through more than one form. Seaweed is a wondrous plant for its metamorphic structure in different states, and can be sustainably harvested in aquamarine ecosystems.
LCF News: What is it that inspired your research?
FF: I was inspired by three central concepts: synthetic replacement, joining processes outside of sewing, and the tension between the natural and man-made. I looked at images of broken dolls, Marie Lund’s cement artwork Torso, and played around with materials bonded or slabbed on to plastic adhesives. I also did a lot of research on Stella McCartney… through eBay! I wanted to know what was happening to the life cycle of the label’s products after leaving the store. Which types of materials are now being given up by their owners? I started to imagine where and how these items would end up. Maybe there’s a way to improve or replace these materials, whether they become loved for life, passed on to someone else, or let go. Stella has done a lot of innovative development to replace animal products, so since synthetics are key to her design aesthetic, it’s a core group for improvement.
LCF News: Why do you think it’s important that companies like Kering consider sustainable issues?
FF: It’s refreshing and modern to see a large company with such impact like Kering make actionable steps towards sustainable practices. I think it shows their creative business model and future thinking. Luxury is about keeping a balance with the beautiful things in life, and companies at the forefront of luxury should always strive for innovative ways to maintain this, through people, nature, process, time. It shows in designs and products.
LCF News: What does an opportunity like the Kering award mean to you and why does it matter?
FF: If a multibillion dollar company turns to you and says, “Hey, I would love to see what you have to say”, I would jump on that opportunity! It’s really exciting, because it means it’s the right time to begin executing some of those ideas and changes I wanted to see in the industry.
LCF News: Why did you choose to study MA Fashion Futures?
FF: I’ve been looking for over 3 years for an MA I actually wanted to study, one that had the appropriate mix of fashion design blended with innovative thinking, conceptual speculations, and technology and science…something beyond fashion design as we currently know it. Where was my unicorn?
During our final collection exhibition at CSM, I was approached by the course leader about this new ground-breaking course that was going to be introduced in the autumn. Talk about timing! I think it was serendipitous.
LCF News: What has been your highlight of the course so far?
FF: One of the biggest highlights for me was the Speculative Design unit. It really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about design outside of traditional constructs. We identify current problems, and then let our minds run wild as to what that world would look like if the problem persisted, and how we would design for the identities in such a context.
LCF News: What did you do before this MA?
FF: Before this MA, I decided to take a hiatus from working in the ready-to-wear industry in NYC. I studied an intensive post graduate course at Central Saint Martin’s where I was challenged to constantly improve myself as a fashion designer. Both experiences were great, and I loved meeting so much creative talent. However, they also both confirmed things I loved and hated about the industry, so I started to brainstorm ideas on areas where there were possibilities for change.