The sustainable in-tent: fashion design

01 Nov, 2021
Sustainable Intent

For final-year fashion student Molly Whitehead, sustainability and bringing old back has been central to her study at AUT.

“My interest in sustainability as it relates to fashion was sparked in my last year of high school, where I had to make a green item. I made a cape from my great-grandfather’s blanket he’d used during WWII. My final collection uses tents and blankets.”

Molly’s eco-streetwear collection Sustainable In-tent reimagines 40-year-old canvas Scout tents, destined for landfill. The collection has gained Molly a place as a finalist in the 2021 ECC Student Craft and Design Awards, and will be on display at the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt as part of the finalists' exhibition from 13 – 25 November. The winners will be announced on 12 November.

“One of the wonderful things about bringing old materials back to life is the memories associated with that item get to live on with new purpose. I’ve been able to use blankets from my great grandparents and grandfather and a tent from a family friend, as well as the Scout tents I diverted from landfill.”

Molly honours those past lives in the names she gives each item, naming a nylon raincoat Greta after the woman that gave her the tent.

As part of her project Molly measured her carbon footprint. “I calculated I spent 37 hours using the sewing machine or overlocker to make the garments, so I spent 37 hours investing in my community through volunteer activities, including a beach clean at my local Point Chevalier beach, sewing sleeves for koha cups (repurposed peanut butter jars used by cafes) and volunteering at the Waste Away stall at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market.”

To source enough material for her collection Molly scoured Facebook pages, discovered old Scout tents that had fulfilled their useful life as tents and were destined for the tip. “My house is full of canvas now,” laughs Molly.

As she heads towards graduation Molly is working hard to launch BOB (Bringing Old Back) her sustainable fashion eco-streetwear label. To help make sustainable fashion accessible, Molly will be launching a hire section, allowing people to enjoy sustainable design in a truly sustainable way.

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