Sustainability in the spotlight as fashion exhibition opens

Bras you can compost and natural ways to tackle plastic waste in the healthcare industry are just some of the sustainable innovations being championed by postgraduate students.

And from this weekend, people can see their work as a new exhibition called Fashion Season opens at the LCB Depot in Leicester which will feature designs, events and designer masterclasses, all with a focus on sustainability. 

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The programme contains work from established designers as well as the work of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s Masters graduates from the School of Fashion and Textiles, including MSc Textile Design, Technology and Innovation, Contour Fashion Innovation MA and Fashion and Textiles MA.
Among the work to be showcased is that of Taylor Parr, who was inspired by her mum, a nurse, to explore how essential oils could be effective antimicrobial dressings. She said: “The medical sector is a complete single-use industry.

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“My mum’s a nurse and a carer for older people, and I know how much plastic waste is produced. So I wanted to see if I could find a way for sustainable materials to be used to reduce infections.”

Her tests on dressings soaked with infusions from clove essential oils showed bacterial growth was reduced. “More research needs to be done in this area, and it’s something I’d love to explore as a PhD.”

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Contour Innovation graduate Maria Paver showed how materials which would have ended up in landfill could be used to create beautiful lingerie. She said: “I was able to take leftover stock from factories, offcuts of materials and re-use them as part of my studies into how much waste is created in the industry.

“I hope this exhibition helps people to think about the alternatives to fast fashion and how we can re-use much more than we think.”

Alongside the exhibition there will be workshops including one with award-winning DMU graduate Mariah Esa on textiles, and couture designer and milliner Guila Mio who is based in Makers’ Yard studios.

Dr Angela Davies is programme leader in MSc Textile Design Technology. She said: “The student projects are just incredible, we are so proud of them and that their work will be able to be seen by so many people in this exhibition.

“Our students have undertaken very diverse and innovative projects from fibre and finishing innovation with the use of biomaterials and natural antimicrobials, garment longevity, end of life management (biodegradation and recycling) and the circular economy.”

Students have access to industry-standard equipment and facilities, and given full support to research and devise solutions to real-world problems such as disposable fashion and investigate alternative materials that are more environmentally-friendly.

Their ideas were on display at Leicester Gallery on campus, as part of a showcase for businesses and students to see the work of Textiles, Technology and Innovation MSc and Contour Innovation MA cohorts.

Contour Innovation student Niamh Payne was inspired to look at how people’s fashion buying had changed over lockdown. She put together a website educating people about the issues in fashion as well as a section giving top tips on being more sustainable.

She said: “People don’t always know how they can help, so I created a ‘what can I do?’ section, places to shop and then talked about the problems with using artificial materials so the more we can do to get the message across the better.”

DMU’s School of Fashion and Textiles was named the most sustainable in the UK in this year’s Green Gowns awards in recognition of the way it puts sustainability at the heart of the curriculum.  

Posted on Friday 1st April 2022

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