LCF PhD Researcher Profile: Marie Stenton - An exploration of alternative routes to a circular economy
Following the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and as part of our Carnival of Crisis events, London College of Fashion, UAL, PhD Research Hub are hosting the Waste-me-not Symposium, which invites all to question: Can waste be permanently designed out of the fashion lifecycle?
As the fashion industry and consumers alike are becoming increasingly aware of its damaging impact on the environment, stakeholders from all sides of the fashion spectrum are seeking new and innovative solutions towards reducing the industry's environmental footprint. The issue of waste within the fashion and textile supply chain is arguably among one of the largest areas of impact and can take many forms such as material waste (pre-consumer and post-consumer), water waste, chemical waste, energy consumption and agricultural waste.
We spoke to our PhD student representatives here at LCF who have led the organisation for the Waste-me-not Symposium, to see how they work and what influences them.
Marie Stenton is a Business of Fashion, Textiles and Technology (BFTT), researcher and PhD candidate at London College of Fashion and a New Scholars Research Fellow with the Bath and Bristol Creative R+D programme. She completed her MA in Fashion Design at Sheffield Hallam University in 2019 and a BA in Textile Design at the University of Leeds in 2012. Marie’s main research focus is an exploration of alternative routes to a circular economy, through the potential of regenerated protein fibres from food waste; alongside the development of a transdisciplinary design methodology. Prior to this, Marie worked both freelance as a fashion and textile designer, as well as with brands such as Alexander McQueen and Burberry. She also ran her own accessories label (inspired by nature and microbiology) under the name Marie Stenton for 4 years.
What is the title of your thesis?
My thesis is titled “Regenerative textiles from milk waste: Disrupting the concept of disposable fashion through transdisciplinary practice intersecting textile design and green chemistry.”
What would be your dream research project?
My current PhD research isn’t far from my dream project. I get to work across different disciplines on the development of novel materials and explore the historical aspect of the project in collaboration with the V&A, which is exciting. I’d love to continue with this type of collaborative research post PhD, but be able to spend more time in a creative/studio or lab environment - rather than spending as much time behind a screen!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
“Don’t be so hard on yourself” or “don’t be afraid to ask for help”. As a designer, I can be very self-critical and push myself to do more than is often necessary. Luckily, I’ve always had many supportive people around me, who remind me to cut myself some slack or take a break.
Can you describe a typical week for you?
I’m still working from home, so my house has become my office/studio/lab. I’m mostly writing at the moment, so I’m often sat in front of my laptop, but every now and then I have to test something like a dye or a material - which I have learned to cook up in my kitchen. At the weekend I like to spend as much time outside as possible, either walking or swimming (or just in a nice beer garden!).
What is your favourite quote?
I used to do a lot of print design for my accessories label (pre-PhD) and was always inspired by microbiology and anatomy – things that aren’t traditionally considered beautiful. I found the Confucius quote ‘Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it’ very pertinent to my visual design work. It also encourages me to look a little closer at things or pay a bit more attention to my surroundings – you never know where you might find inspiration.
What TV series/book are your currently reading/watching?
I’m currently watching A Handmaid’s Tale and am working my way through lots of nature documentaries on Netflix. I’m also reading Girlhood by Melissa Febos.
Any recent research stories that have inspired you?
Sanne Visser is a PhD candidate within the Centre for Circular Design, UAL, whose research explores the potential of human hair and other forms of ‘human waste’ as commercial materials. I really enjoy projects which have a speculative nature and challenge the way we think about materials and material systems.
This story is part of a series that spotlights some of our PhD staff and students contributing to the LCF Research community. Click here to read about Lauren Junestrand Leal who co-led the organisation of the Waste-Me-Not Symposium with Marie.