According to the Fashion Designer’s Textile Directory, the average fashion design firm receives and disposes of around 4,500 fabric samples per season. Where do most of these hundreds of thousands of swatches end up each season? The landfill. On top of that, in the United States the textile industry stands as the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions.
Although several emerging designers have embraced upcycling and a couple of well known designers like Vivienne Westwood have publicly acknowledged the negative effects industrialism is having on the planet, without rules discouraging waste and promoting transparency and clean practices it’s hard to see the consumer-driven fashion industry doing an about-face anytime soon. But San Francisco-based designer Elizabeth Brunner hopes to at least interrupt part of the wasteful cycle by recycling the tossed out fabric swatches designers receive into unique fashion. With her design label Piece x Piece founded in 2008, she has created an avenue to pursue her love for design while allowing for a clear conscious that she did it sustainably.
Brunner pieces each of her garments together by hand to create one-of-a-kind clothing. Because the garments are custom-designed depending on whatever luxury fabrics have been donated to her, the results are edgy yet season-less.
Brunner not only looks at her business as a more sustainable alternative to clothing design, but also as a challenge to herself and others to look at things in a new way, encouraging creativity by having to use small pieces to make whole new garments instead of assuming there is an endless supply of disposable fabric. This allows Brunner to mix textures and colors together into chic patchwork. Her current collection features dark patchwork in ties, dresses and skirts. She has also created a unique line of cubic crops designed to spice up plain tops without investing in whole new shirts. Instead she suggests having only a plain tank with a couple tiny crops to vary your wardrobe.
When we’re afforded the luxury of clothing beyond necessity, fashion becomes an artistic display of creativity. Brunner’s unique designs thus allows fashion forward shoppers to enjoy exclusive couture while remaining true to their growing plead for environmentally sustainable and ethically produced clothing.
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