Last week I visited the Trash Fashion exhibition at the Science Museum. Although small the exhibition was great and offered a variety of science (ish) Vs fashion methods of creating a more sustainable industry, with efforts focused around reducing waste. I personally didn’t learn anything new from this exhibition, however being placed next to a children’s play zone it was fantastic to see younger people engaging and therefore learning from the exhibition.
I was keen to visit the exhibition after reading that Suzanne Lee’s Biocouture project was to be shown. I had researched this project when writing my proposal for my MA final project, therefore was keen to see one of the garments with my own eyes. I was not disappointed; it looked fantastic, plus there was a supporting video with imagery showing exactly how the culture is grown and formed into garments. My only issue was that I couldn’t get a decent photograph of the garment; the lighting seemed deliberately low and the little light there was reflected off the glass cabinet.
There was also a biomimicry example on offer; morphotex. This again was something that I had researched. I was unsure what this had to do with combating waste within the fashion industry, because from what I knew this fabric was about replicating the changing colours seen on a butterfly’s wing. Regardless this was interesting to see in the flesh.
Other items on show were zero waste pattern cutting, modular garments, upcycling, biodegradable fabrics (there was an interesting experiment where a garment with polyester and hemp had been buried to test the biodegradability), recycling, seamless knitting and natural fibres.
I noticed one mannequin wore a tshirt bearing the print ‘mystery garment’. There were a number of upcycled garments (from various websites/ or entries) that people could vote for on computer screen; the winner would adorn the mannequin. I flicked through the images and was shocked to see such awful examples of upcycled clothing. Seeing these garments being upcycled so poorly that they clearly should have been termed ‘downcycled’ as I cant imagine anyone wanted to wear them! There was an overall lack of style about these garments, which I think is why I struggle to appreciate upcycling. I generally feel that if these garments (in their previous state) were simply passed on, energy, resources and the garment itself would be saved.
That said, I do not want to bad mouth all upcycling. I think there is a high level of skill in remaking a garment into something of higher value than it was previously. That is it; I simply feel that an upcycled garment must become a garment of higher value not of lesser value.
Overall I was impressed to see sustainable fashion ideas being pushed forward, especially in the Science Museum.