DMU students' designs on sale after winning sustainable fashion challenge

Sustainable designs by De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students are being sold in London stores after their win in a national fashion competition.

The competition was run by a partnership between the Graduate Fashion Foundation (GFF), homelessness charity Crisis, and Love Not Landfill, a campaign to reduce fast fashion and encourage recycling.

Fashion Design students Kaci Horseman and Sasha Treimane had their designs selected as part of the collection of 28 outfits, created entirely by university students from GFF member universities across the UK.

The collections are being sold in Crisis’ London charity shops, raising money to tackle homelessness across Great Britain.

“I went to London and saw my work in the shop windows which was so surreal. To see something I’ve worked so hard on being sold and to think someone will actually be wearing it is amazing. It’s been a great opportunity to get my name out there,” said Kaci.

Crisis Kaci 1
Kaci's winning design

The designers were asked to use only second-hand clothing to create their outfits and to ensure their designs were size inclusive, fitting a minimum of three dress sizes. They had creative free-reign to choose a concept around which to centre their design.

Talking about her inspiration for the project, Sasha said: “The topic I chose to base my designs on was my happiest places. When you’re creating something, you’re living through it so I wanted the process to have lots of positivity.

Crisis Sasha 1
Sasha's sustainable outfit

“I feel at my best when I’m happy in my own skin so I explored processes involving skin, like tattooing, to reflect this in my design. I thrifted some leather and faux leather bags and experimented with tattooing and spray painting onto them and using different varnishes.

“I also found doilies in charity shops and combined them with the leather items to make a top and skirt. It was a trial-and-error process because none of the techniques or materials I was using were very traditional, but I like to try unconventional things so it was a really positive experience for me.

Crisis Sasha 2

For her design, Kaci chose to tackle a major current social issue by making a ski suit; a reflection of how fashion could alter when faced with a worsening energy crisis.

“I wanted to draw attention to the social implications of how we wear this type of clothing. Skiing is an elite and expensive sport where people choose to be in cold environments and wear warm clothing, but I wanted to show that people are now having to turn to this type of clothing to stay warm in their own homes,” said the 21-year-old from Leeds.

Crisis Kaci 2

“I created the outfit from a blazer and coat I found in charity shops and upcycled, deconstructing them and using the samples to come up with different shapes. This is how I came up with the patchwork look of my final design.

“It only cost me £8 to make the entire thing and I found the juxtaposition of making a garment for the rich with the limitations of the budget of the poor really powerful.”

The valuable opportunity has provided a learning experience for both Kaci and Sasha that extends beyond their everyday studies.

“Before this project, I hadn’t done any upcycling but I love problem solving so it’s been really great to have the opportunity to develop that skill. The stakes were high so it felt like a truly professional experience which was great,” said Kaci.

“My tutors were so helpful and gave me loads of advice. I’d never worked with an external client before, so it’s been great to collaborate with these companies with that support behind me.”

Sasha said: “The biggest thing I’ve learned is to not be afraid to go beyond the brief. This opportunity to experiment with new practical ways of doing things was so beneficial. There’s no recipe for this kind of project so you have to come up with your own formula.

“It’s always great to see your work appreciated and this project benefiting two charities felt really important.”

ask jas

Posted on Monday 24th April 2023

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