Wednesday 26 August 2015

Upcycling For Modern Dandies

I'm fascinated by the way young designers are starting to look at material that would once have been considered to be waste, and using them to make new, fresh products. Take Kelly-Dawn Riot, whose new sustainable range of menswear is sourced from the humblest of materials.
Formication is a collection of boldly colourful clothing that harkens back to the last great era of dandyism–the sixties and seventies. The range uses scraps rescued from Scottish textile mills, as well as natural linens and cottons. But Kelly-Dawn doesn't stop there. The bright colours and patterning of her clothes is achieved using eco-friendly printing techniques. No nasty chemicals needed.
Kelly-Dawn says of the process:
(it's) more eco friendly than other traditional printing techniques as it uses water soluble inks and a printing process which only uses the pigment necessary, alongside this it does not use screens which means no harmful chemicals are needed to expose screens unlike traditional processes. I also used engineered prints to insure only the necessary amount of pigment and fabric was used leaving no waste fabric or ink."
The patterns she uses for her fabrics are inspired by naturalist illustrators, whose ideas gave her the impetus to create what she calls "wearable works of art." Buzzing with detail, she wants the owner to come across something new every time he puts on the item.
Her education (she's a recent graduate of the Glasgow School of Art) has clearly informed her work, but Kelly-Dawn is just as influenced by mentors like upcycling guru Orsola De Castro. She says:
"Working with de Castro probably had the biggest impact on me. She really opened my eyes to how much damage the fashion industry is causing to our planet and highlighted horrifying disasters like Rana Plaza in Bangladesh and the disappearance of the Aral Sea basin. After exposing myself to this side of the fashion industry, sustainability was something I had to move towards. My conscience wouldn’t have let me do otherwise if nothing else."
De Castro's influence was more far-reaching: it was her idea to start looking at textile mill waste. What Kelly-Dawn found made the whole project worthwhile. Not only were the mills more than happy to let her have the waste, but the material was of exceptional quality. With that, and Orsola's encouragement, she knew that there was a chance to do something interesting.
Winner of the Scotland Re:Designed New Talent Award, which introduced her to de Castro and helped her get funding through Zero Waste Scotland, Kelly-Dawn is taking a great idea and making something bold and beautiful with it. The clothes might not be to everyone's taste, but the modern dandy in your life might just find it's the perfect thing for that next soirée.

For more on Formication, check out Kelly-Dawn's blog:

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