I have this image in my head of myself swanning into a Burberry Store. Walking around like I own the place. Then casually purchasing the famous Burberry Heritage Trench Coat (the Kensington style please). Ok, back to reality, the chances of this happening are as likely as my dog Baxter giving up Biltong. For most people that belong to my generation or younger, shopping at high-end fashion stores just isn’t and option…yet! So how do we keep up with the constantly changing trends?
Let’s face it; trends in the fashion industry are on fast-forward. What’s on trend today will be cringe worthy tomorrow. With social media platforms like Instagram, we can post selfies of ourselves wearing the latest H&M ensemble. But we wouldn’t be caught dead wearing the same thing in our next selfie! The horror! So we need more options, and the fashion industry has obliged. Brands like Cotton On, H&M, Topshop and Forever 21 are just some of the fast fashion retailers that produce on trend clothing at affordable prices. One can quite easily walk into Cotton On tomorrow and buy 5 T-shirts in differing colours and end up wearing only two. Ever. It doesn’t matter because they won’t last. They’re so cheap we don’t agonise over spending ridiculous amounts of money on one little T-shirt. They’re just disposable. You only need to experience the frenzied oestrogen levels in H&M aisles once to know what I’m talking about.
So I’ve been thinking about this a lot, clearly. Especially because I have my moments of shameful compulsive buying at the best of times. I read an interesting article on The Business of Fashion about the fashion industry entering into the ‘sharing economy’. The sharing economy connects users with owners (think Airbnb and Uber). The article states”[in] the US alone, over $8 billion worth of clothing sits in closets, unworn.” $8 billion! With clothes being produced left, right, and centre, this means more factories, more underpaid workers, and more environmental problems. We need to rethink this. We seriously need to rethink this.
On one of my many journeys plundering through the Internet I found someone who is. Martjin Van Strien conceptualised and founded The Post-Couture Collective. It is the only fashion label where you can download the pattern for €5 (R84.97 at today’s exchange rate!) Then either assemble the garment yourself or use someone in your community to assemble it for you. What I love about this concept is that the clothes are only produced when needed, or when people buy the patterns. This completely eliminates the problem of wasted stock that big retail stores face. Don’t you ever wonder what happens to all those clothes?
What’s even more brilliant is the way these clothes are put together. In an interview with WGSN, Martjin explains:
“I wanted to design garments for the future…[all] the normal construction techniques are eliminated, so no sewing, no seams, no training! We’re introducing a new way of thinking about sustainability, embracing the maker’s movement and cutting out unfair labour, overproduction and waste in doing so.”
To put the pattern pieces together, Martjin collaborated with five fashion design graduates from Antwerp Academy. Together they developed a system of weaving the pieces together. One of the pattern pieces has arrow like tabs all the way down the sides. The other has little slits that the arrow pieces weave in and out of. The effect once it’s complete gives the garment areas of texture that flow along the curves of the body.
Now, don’t worry you don’t have to sit and cut out each tab and each slit! The garments are cut out with laser cutters or 3D printers. One can either take the pattern to a local laser-cutting store. Or The Post-Couture Collective can cut the pieces for you and deliver them. Either way you can customise the garment to suit your specific body type. Want the dress to be longer? Add the length measurement you want. Want the crop top to be less… croppy? Make it longer. This allows the customer to be designers of their own garments. This adds more value that mass-produced fashion can never give us. Watch the video below to see how it works.
The first collection, entitled One / Off, consists of six simple pieces designed by mphvs, a Dutch fashion label famous for designing clothing for the future. One could say they are quite futuristic, but they are effortlessly simple and have the feeling of ease and comfort. The Post-Couture Collective also gives fabric suggestions for your garments. The best fabric is synthetic Spacer fabric. Now you may be thinking, “ah ha! That’s not sustainable!” Well, see the green tinge on the garments in the images below? That’s because the fabric is made from recycled Sprite bottles. Yip. What’s more, when you tire of your garments you can just recycle them again. Spacer fabric may be synthetic, but remember, these garments are only made to order. No mass production, so no waste. Martjin says “I wanted materials that were readily available to all, so all of the fabrics mentioned on the website you can get from any material store,” except the green Sprite bottle fabric, that you have to order off the site. But still, what a pleasure!
I realise the fabric and designs may not appeal to everyone. What’s more, not everyone has a 3D printer readily available in his or her community. But, I think what’s important here is the concept. We need to dial back and really think about how we consume things, and that includes fashion. We’re heading into serious trouble and dear Mother Nature can’t hang on for much longer. With innovative ideas such as The Post-Couture Collective, we may just have a chance. Now please excuse me while I get back to dreaming of Sprite-green coloured dresses.
All images are courtesy of The Post-Couture Collective website.