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Fashion industry puts sustainable couture under the spotlight

1st March 2012
Carbon-friendly couture will come under the spotlight today at a green fashion event organised by the University of East Anglia (UEA) with fashion students from London’s Kingston University.
Designers, scientists, branding experts and environmentalists will come together in the capital to exchange ideas about the future of fashion – and how the industry can reduce its carbon footprint.

The 'Sustainable Luxury’ event has been organised by InCrops – a bio-renewables hub based at the University of East Anglia – with Kingston University and the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network (Materials KTN).

The fashion industry has a high environmental footprint and is responsible for a huge amount of waste. According to waste industry reports, more than one million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year, of which only 25 per cent are recycled.

The event has been organised to showcase new 'bio-materials’ which can be used for making environmentally-friendly luxury goods - from clothes, shoes and accessories to home and car interiors.

A range of futuristic fabrics, garments, and designs will be unveiled at the industry-focused event. These include a pair of stilettos made from pistachio nuts and coffee beans by designer Julia Skergeth, and fabrics made from wood, food waste such as orange peel, fungi and mould.

Work on show comes from Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture and includes a wood-chip corset from British designer Stefanie Nieuwenhuyse, which made waves at London Fashion Week last September and was modelled by singer Pixie Lott in Vogue.

Other designers include Hoyan Ip, who works with organic materials, such as orange peel breaking down and decomposing, and Fay Gascoigne who has created award-winning scented jewellery from biodegradable plastic.

The event features the results of an InCrops-sponsored MA Fashion project at Kingston University, which encouraged students to explore the theme of 'Sustainable Luxury’. The course was designed to introduce designers to low carbon principles in product manufacture, based on efficient use of natural and renewable products.

Students were tasked with creating designs that show how crop-derived renewable raw materials can be used to create luxury goods that have a low or zero-carbon life cycle – from manufacture through to distribution and disposal - and be attractive to consumers.

Liliya Serazetdinova from InCrops said: "We have long been interested in collaborating with the creative industries, designers and product developers.

"Designs have the power to reduce the carbon footprint of products through material selection, development of energy-efficient processing, and improved end-of-life options, and to develop prototypes for using natural materials in mainstream products.

"This event has been designed to showcase the idea of integrating bio-based materials to the luxury sectors."

Nancy Tilbury, MA Fashion course director at Kingston University, said: "Our MA programme sets out to challenge our students to think about the economical, ethical and technological and scientific changes in society and its application to the 21st Century body.

"When InCrops approached the MA Fashion course, we were delighted to partner them as they shared a unique set of values around the future of production, manufacturing, bio-materials and bio-cycles.

"Their interest in the luxury sector gave us a steep challenge as many fashion practitioners have failed to successfully communicate the relationship between fashion and bio-waste.

"Our students rose to the challenge and produced excellent work that has been sought after by musical artists and the fashion press."

The Sustainable Luxury Event takes place today at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in London.

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Fashion industry puts sustainable couture under the spotlight
Sustainable Luxury will showcase showcase new 'bio-materials’ which can be used for making eco-friendly luxury goods
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