Monday, September 14, 2009

Sam Formo's zero-waste jacket

Sam Formo's name has come up here a few times and I was fortunate enough to see the photos of this jacket quite a while ago. I didn't want to post any photos earlier, in case doing so might have compromised Sam's chances of entering any competitions, which I'm glad he did do: the Metropolis Next Generation competition. The results are in, and Sam was commended as one of twelve notables. Congratulations! Feel free to disagree but I think that not too long ago fashion wouldn't have even got a look in, so this is fantastic. The photos came from Metropolis and Sam Formo; the photography is by Shidume Lozada (a CCA graduate) and the model is Drew Kleiner (a fellow fashion student):

From Metropolis, Sam's thoughts on the garments:

How would you describe it?
The no-waste pattern was developed in order to eliminate cutting waste that generally ends up in landfills. By filling in the negative spaces in order to utilize all of the fabric laid out and by sharing cutting lines, a garment emerges leaving behind not a scrap of waste.

How does it pertain to energy?
By eliminating waste and creating timeless designs we decrease the need for consumption, which in turn saves the energy embodied in the cloth, decreases the need to transport it from disposal to landfill and overseas to clothing brokers.

What makes it important?
I realize that my entry is completely non-traditional in terms of what Metropolis magazine puts forth, but I stand by my design because I am a true believer that thinking in these terms, no matter from what standpoint, is crucial in our current quandary. My piece is an accessible concept that is structural, durable and beautiful and much like architecture provides a function that involves the body. The issues that it can possibly address globally reach far beyond what many other forms of design can, such as the poor ethics that are being practiced in the textile and garment manufacturing industries, the amount of energy and waste occurring at alarming rates and the no-end of health risks involved thereof. Clothing is as much part of our lives as the buildings we live and work in and current times are calling for massive change and re-invention. There is no reason that fashion should not be part of that change.

How do the photos or renderings illustrate the concept?
The pattern is laid out exactly as it would on cloth. When laid out properly, especially on something like a wool melton or boiled wool, it can be situated so that; a) it takes up the entire width of a piece of yardage and b) can be laid out so that it utilizes less than one yard. The types of fabrics researched for this project were sought because of the quality and inability to fray, meaning that cut edges do not have to be finished (thus saving the extra energy it would take to run a machine). Each and every part of the pattern is utilized and put into the finished garment, the interlocked puzzle-like pieces on the front are pulled through buttonholes, creating the closure for the jacket and also becoming a unique design feature. The photos tell the story of how those pieces come to life when put on the body.
I really think you'll be hearing and seeing a lot more of Sam and his excellent work. I'd also like to mention a person 'behind the scenes' who doesn't get credited enough. Lynda Grose, one of Sam's professors at the California College of the Arts, has been a pioneer in the field of fashion design and sustainability and worked with Sam on this project. To my horror, I recently read one 'history' or review of sustainable fashion to date, and it made no mention of Lynda (nor Kate Fletcher, or Becky Earley, and so it went) or the ecollection she helped develop for Esprit, what, almost two decades ago. That's kind of like writing a history of Western fashion and not mentioning France. Lynda also worked with Andrew Hague, whose no-waste shirt Fletcher featured in her book (Andrew features it on his website).

Back to the point of the post, some huge congratulations to Sam. If you have a look at the winner, the runners-up and the other notables like Sam, you'll notice that apart from one PhD candidate, none are students. (Please correct me if I'm wrong there; I am somewhat tired and slightly incoherent as I type this.) They are practicing architects, designers, engineers and the like. Congratulations!


samifo said...

Photos by Shidume Lozada (a CCA graduate) and the model is Drew Kleiner (a fellow fashion student).

Timo Rissanen said...

Thanks, I've updated the post with proper credits.

Bracken/Holly said...

Fantastic work! Congratulations Sam. I love that he has managed to achieve quite a fitted silhouette using these processes, not an easy feat.

Maria the fibrefinger said...

Brilliant, thanks for sharing this!

Remie Cibis said...

Just wanted to say congratulations on an exciting and informative blog. I have just commenced my third year of Fashion Design with RMIT. I am taking a class called 'Concepts of Sustainability - A Piece of Cloth'. You're blog has been a great research spring board.

Timo Rissanen said...

Thanks Remie, glad to hear it. Who teaches the class? I'm only asking because I know a few faculty at RMIT. I was actually intending to come there around last October to do a workshop but my work in Sydney was just too busy so it didn't work out. Anyway, thanks for the visit and comment!