REMADE FOR THE BETTER
“In their year working with us as Social Innovators, Teslin, Lucy, and Carmen supplied both a galvanizing enthusiasm and attainable ideas for a new model of clothing production,” Eileen Fisher said in a statement. “We’re one significant step closer to our vision for becoming a closed-loop company.
To make their project scalable, the trio looked for garments with similar flaws. For silks with minor food stains, overdyeing them with plant-based ingredients (eucalyptus leaves, saffron, madder root) made the obvious choice. Abstract patterns were achieved by dipping the garments directly in dye pots or strewing them with pigments, then rolling them into bundles and steaming them to fix the colors.
“Our nickname for this project was ‘stains on stains,'” Doud said. “The great thing about an overdyed tunic is that if you spill on it you only add to its character.”
Sweaters with moth holes found themselves at the business end of a felting machine, which uses thousands of barbed needles to suture fibers together and create a denser textile, one that’s ripe for cutting into new patterns.
“The art is in how you feed the linen and wool sweaters into the machine,” Gama explained. “We overlap them to create a specific pattern of colors and textures.”
Pants with torn inseams, split wide open, provide voluminous amounts of fabric for fresh designs. The Parsons crew rejiggered existing patterns so they could use as much of the repurposed garment as possible while minimizing waste.
“Our goal was to find techniques that minimize waste and preserve the inherent value of Eileen Fisher’s materials,” Gama added. “They’re so beautiful they can easily have a second and maybe third life.”
Eileen Fisher says it takes responsibility for where its clothes end up. By 2020, the deadline for its “Vision2020” sustainability plan, the company expects to reclaim 1 million of its garments.
And the pieces it can’t sell again? “They’re tomorrow’s raw material, to be reborn as new textiles or refashioned as new clothes,” it said. “It may take longer than five years, but we imagine a future in which waste is a thing of the past.”
From your lips to the fashion industry’s ears.