At the end of April, the names of the three emerging designers who were going through to the semifinal of the international Redress Design award for sustainability were announced.
Maria Pons Porta and Micaela Clubourg from Barcelona, together with Drina Marco, based in Madrid, represented Spain in this second round of the competition.
They competed against 27 other contestants from all over the world for this prize. The Redress Design Award is promoted by the Government of Hong Kong, which is recognised as one of the most relevant in sustainable fashion design.
FashionUnited spoke with each of them to learn more about their collections.
“Dyspnea” by Maria Pons
I studied Fashion Design at Felicidad Duce, the fashion school of LCI Barcelona.
And in terms of sustainability?
I am partly self-taught when it comes to sustainability as I am interested in the subject. I have attended a workshop about sustainable materials and learned about some basic concepts from my teachers.
What are the challenges of developing a sustainable project?
There are many challenges when developing a sustainable project. One of which is finding sustainable fabrics that had already been dyed with chemicals. So, I thought about it a lot and eventually decided to use the natural shades of turmeric, beetroot and spirulina, which I buy in powder form and “cook”.
The internet has been very helpful, as people share their experiences and tricks learned from working with this type of dyeing.
What is your collection inspired by?
I wanted to choose a theme with some social impact. The collection is called Dyspnea in reference to the feeling of suffocation caused by lack of air; environmentally, it is related to the polluted air we breathe. It is a metaphor for the feeling of suffocation caused by changing oneself to interact with others in society. The silhouette comprises a symbiosis of the sentiment in society, slowly removing layers until showing who you really are.
What does your collection consist of?
The collection that I am going to present has a total of 15 pieces, five for each of the three looks. On the outside of the designs, I have used more organza and translucent fabrics in lighter tones to show the lower layers they hide. As we go deeper into the looks, there is more manual work, the tones are darker, and there are more pleats.
I have already made the prototypes to ensure that the final result is exactly what I expect. However, there is still more work to do for the final. If I am chosen for the final, I will have to present two more looks: an impressive outfit for the catwalk and another digital outfit in collaboration with a specialised company.
“Monda” by Drina Marco
I studied Fashion Design almost four years ago at the fashion school of LCI Barcelona.
Then, I did an interdisciplinary master's, where I surrounded myself with people from other fields who made me explore the world from different points of view for two years. Broadening my gaze brought me back to fashion because I discovered the type of fashion that I wanted to make.
And in terms of sustainability?
While I was studying the topic of sustainability, it began to become more popular. I appreciated that sustainable fashion was becoming more important in society. It allowed me to find a language that matched my way of seeing the world, not only in terms of material sustainability but also in how we approach fashion.
I had the feeling that fashion needed to look outwards toward the world in which we live, which led me to take other paths since it was clear to me that I did not want to contribute in generating more waste. We can create beautiful things by taking advantage of what we already have.
What does the collection consist of?
The most interesting thing is that I am presenting nine garments, which individually change shapes, allowing you to play and form a relationship with each garment, which can be dressed in different ways every day as part of a capsule wardrobe. This prevents us from hoarding clothing and creates a link with what we wear, which is very important to me.
What materials have you used?
I had a conversation with a friend where we talked about the life of fabrics from the hospitality sector, which do not last much more than eight months, according to my investigation. This caught my attention because when you start producing the collection on a larger scale, you cannot make the garment again if you reuse clothing. So, I thought about how a lot of material used by the hospitality sector is white, which gives a lot of potential for those materials to be dyed with natural dyes. It was a very intuitive process.
“Back To The Roots" by Micaela Clubourg
Although I am Argentinian, I currently reside in Barcelona thanks to a scholarship provided by IED Barcelona. I am completing a Master in Wearables and Fashion Technology that has a central focus on sustainability.
Have you always been interested in sustainability?
Yes, I have always been interested in sustainability because they show you the fashion industry from all angles. It convinced me that it does not matter what is done, but how it is done.
In Argentina, I had my own ethical fashion brand called Studio Cumbre, which was used as an interdisciplinary 'collaboration centre'.
What does your collection consist of?
As a result of considering how to make a project that does not have a major environmental impact, I decided on zero-waste design as it avoids all kinds of scraps by using natural fabrics and dyes from discarded food, which is prone to changes depending on where the food is produced. The avocado is, for example, a fashionable product that is being consumed a lot today, and with its peel, you can obtain shades between pink and nude.
What difficulties does developing a sustainable project entail?
One of the things that a zero-waste project implies is taking advantage of all the quality textiles we have, an idea already practised by our ancestors that means making the most of the materials. One of the challenges of this is to make sure the clothing fits well to the body because when you want to make the most of textiles, moulding is complex because sometimes being zero-waste means using the full metre of fabric. However, my objective has been to develop silhouettes that have a good fit.
It is closely related to a movement in Argentina due to the size system. The size curve is smaller than that of Spain or the US, and they do not cover all body types, which made me wonder how I could generate garments that are adaptable over time, first because the body naturally changes and clothing size changes throughout our lives, which would make the garment last longer in the wardrobe.
It is tough to work with natural dyes as there is a lot of trial and error, especially regarding the durability of the dyes. Still, the reality is that they are homemade using ancient techniques in the north of Argentina, especially the natural dyes. So, I learned as much about the topic as possible and approached one of the Argentinian communities to listen to their advice.
In addition, all the collection details, such as the buttons and finishing hardware, are made from recycled plastic from discarded cheese cans and other plastics that are not usually recycled, thanks to a cooperative in Buenos Aires that gives the objects a second life. The process consists of melting the plastic using a temperature that does not generate toxic gases to shape it into buttons.
This article was initially published on FashionUnited.es and translated by Veerle Versteeg and Andrea Byrne.