Fashion with a conscience | The Star

EVERY year, about 100 billion pieces of clothing are made, of which 30% are not sold and up to 85% of textiles end up in landfills.

As if that’s not alarming enough, when we wash clothes, 500,000 tonnes of microfibres are released into the ocean annually – an equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles, according to Taylor’s University deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer Prof Dr Pradeep Nair.

As such, to raise awareness of and advocate for ethical and environmentally friendly fashion, the varsity recently held a fashion show to highlight the production of sustainable garments.

Themed “Love, Earth”, the event dubbed “The Show” focused on sustainability and featured a ready-to-wear collection of some 60 garments designed by 24 fashion design technology programme students.

Bachelor of Fashion Design Technology first-year student Dania Mefiana Putri Ong, who created a collection of zero waste fashion for the event, said she did not know what sustainable fashion entailed prior to her participation in “The Show”.

“Once we were informed that the theme of the show revolved around sustainability, we began learning about it. I also did my own research to understand the topic better to help me create my designs.

“This experience has made me want to get into sustainable fashion – particularly zero waste – more seriously, because not a single piece of clothing is wasted during the design process,” said Dania, who hails from Indonesia.

Malaysian fashion designer Hatta Dolmat, who mentored the students for 14 weeks, described the students as “impressive and inspiring” due to their knowledge of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the way they presented their fashion designs.

Producing sustainable fashion in Malaysia is still a struggle, he said, as most fashion designers view it as a burden due to their lack of knowledge of the topic.

“The students showed that they have a clear objective and direction as aspiring designers and are not merely creating glamorous outfits that do not benefit nature,” he told the media.

The event was held at the varsity’s Subang Jaya campus on July 15.

Prof Pradeep said the daunting number of clothes that are wasted annually is a wake-up call for consumers, the fashion industry and education providers to equip future fashion designers with the knowledge, agility and creativity to tackle such complex problems.

“We continue to address current market needs and to help the nation’s social and economic development by pushing the envelope in pedagogy and by aligning our students to social causes and concerns with the Taylor’sphere ecosystem.

“Recycled raw materials such as T-shirts and plastics were used by our interior architecture and fashion design technology students to create art and texture braided pieces for ‘The Show’,” he said, adding that the fashion design technology programme incorporates technology-enabled learning and impact-based approach so that students graduate with skills to design apparels with a purpose and to leverage technology.

“The Show” was a joint collaboration between the varsity, Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week, Life Line Clothing Malaysia, FashinFidelity, and Hatta.

Divided into three segments, it unveiled the experimental art-to-wear collection from recycled denim and clothing trims, the zero waste fashion collection using Taylor’s Innovative Pattern Drafting Technique that utilises every part of the textile, and the fashion revolution collection to support the UN SDGs by repurposing and reusing textiles from waste materials.