A Fashionable Focus on Communities and the Environment

Parsons alumni Andria Crescioni (back row, far right) and Courtney Cedarholm (back row, second from right) create sustainable fashions with the Awamaki Lab team.

Andria Crescioni ’11 had a good excuse for missing the debut last week of the anorak she designed for Loomstate, the company’s first zero-waste product. She was hard at work with fellow alumna Courtney Cedarholm ’11 designing a collection for the Awamaki Lab, a nonprofit organization in Peru that works with indigenous weavers to facilitate their entry to the global market.

Crescioni works closely with weavers in Patacancha, Peru, to develop a collection based on their traditional woven textiles.

“Being involved in Awamaki Lab has made me completely re-evaluate how I want to contribute to the sometimes trivial world of fashion,” says Crescioni. “By working side by side with local women and hand-selecting textiles straight from the weavers in Patacancha, I have been more inspired to design than ever before. I can directly see who my work is affecting and how it is helping to create positive social change.”

Crescioni is part of a new generation of Parsons fashion designers focused on incorporating sustainable practices into their work. This group also includes Katie King ’05 of JF & Son, which has established design and manufacturing studios in India and China that employ local craftspeople at three times the living wage and provide health insurance. Erin Beatty ’07 of SUNO, a nominee for a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award this year, works in Kenya, Peru and New York to produce its collections, which also incorporate traditional local techniques. And even celebrated Parsons alumni like Yeohlee Teng and Donna Karan have explored sustainable approaches to fashion for years.

With the appointment of Timo Rissanen as an assistant professor of fashion design and sustainability, the School of Fashion at Parsons has deepened its commitment to incorporating sustainability into the curriculum. That commitment can be seen in the collaboration with Loomstate on the school’s first zero-waste fashion design class, which attracted students from across Parsons.

“Zero-waste fashion involves an innovative design process 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.

Loomstate has debuted a zero-waste anorak designed by Crescioni as part of the school's first zero-waste design course.

Working closely with Loomstate founders Rogan Gregory and Scott Mackinley Hahn, each student developed a design and muslin prototype garment. Gregory and Hahn, together with fashion consultant Julie Gilhart, selected Crescioni’s anorak for production. The team was impressed by Crescioni’s ability to design a garment that was in keeping with the Loomstate aesthetic while strictly adhering to the zero-waste standard. Hahn and Gregory continued to guide Crescioni in manufacturing the garment from development through production. The anorak, produced in a limited edition, is available at the Rogan boutique on the Bowery and on Loomstate’s website.

“I definitely feel that sustainability and social responsibility are becoming standards with which to live across the board,” said Crescioni. “I think that is because at this point in design, aesthetics are not enough. I feel that intelligent consumers are looking to buy pieces that are both beautiful and thoughtfully designed.”

Visit the Awamaki Lab website to learn more about Crescioni’s experience as a designer-in-residence. Crescioni will present her collection for the Awamaki Lab in New York this January.