New School News

Reap What You Sew: Zero Waste Fashion at Parsons

Parsons BFA Fashion Design student Andria Crescioni shows her design to Rogan Gregory and Scott MacKinlay Hahn of Loomstate, and fashion authority Julie Gilhart.

To a group of aspiring designers at Parsons, a sustainable approach to fashion means more than just selecting the right materials or working with ethically minded companies; it also means minimizing waste. This was the focus of Zero Waste Fashion, a new course in the School of Fashion at Parsons taught by Timo Rissanen, the university’s first professor of Fashion Design and Sustainability. Tonight, February 8, take a firsthand look at these students’ creations at an opening reception for an exhibition about the course, taking place in the Aronson Galleries of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, from 6-8 pm. The exhibition will be on view through February 23.

Zero waste fashion is an innovative design approach that produces no fabric waste. In effect, patternmaking becomes an integral part of the process, creating a richer, more sustainable design practice,, said Simon Collins, dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons. To add to the excitement of this inaugural course, Parsons has partnered with the eco-friendly label Loomstate, which will produce one of the student-designed looks as part of its Fall 2011 collection. The selected student’s design will be announced at the opening.

Through muslin prototypes, garment patterns, video and photography, the exhibition sheds light on this cutting-edge approach to sustainable design. Incorporating zero-waste techniques into my design process has given me the opportunity to completely rethink how clothing can be made,, said BFA Fashion Design student Andria Crescioni. I have come to realize that there is no right or wrong way to create a garment, and have created interesting new silhouettes and design details that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.,

Zero waste is more than pattern cutting,, said George Gladstone, a student in the BS Environmental Studies program. It is an ethos of designing. Zero waste reveals the potential to innovate and inspire.,

The course is one of a number of sustainable design initiatives that have students in the School of Fashion at Parsons working in teams across the university on creative ideas that reduce waste. This spring, students in the MFA Fashion Design and Society program are working directly with an industry partner to examine ways of extending the life cycle of a garment. Students in the AAS Fashion Marketing, Communication Design, and Design and Technology programs at Parsons are collaborating with the innovative advertising agency Droga 5 to develop a global branding campaign called Wash Cold,, which promotes the benefits of washing garments in cold water to save energy. Fans of inventive Internet marketing will remember Droga 5 from comedian Sarah Silverman’s Great Schlep, video campaign that ran during the 2008 presidential election.

In addition, students in the BFA program in Fashion Design are collaborating with others at Parsons and Milano in the Solar Decathlon, a biannual global competition to design and build a solar-powered home, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. Fashion students will create a sustainable wardrobe for inhabitants of the home, which takes into account energy use and consumption.

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