This was a group project with Womenswear and Textiles students. It was completed during the pandemic with all of the group members in their home countries in different time zones. It kept us connected in a time where social interactions mattered the most. Group members: Irem Ar (me), Hannah Wolfe, Doris Wei Peng, Sanusha Nath, Stella Li, Vanessa Li.
Transformative Futures 2019/20: Wear Your Personality Out
Our group pioneers were the Cholitas Escaladoras de Bolivia, who are a group of Aymara indigenous women previously caretakers for mountaineers at the base camps now climbing the mountains in traditional clothing and Grayson Perry, an English contemporary artist, writer and broadcaster known for his cross-dressing.
Our pioneers both show resistance to gender stereotypes, which made us think of a world where the concept of gender did not exist at all. We believed if the future would be genderless, individuals would be valued for what they truly are, and their true selves would not be hidden behind gender related associations. So, without the shell of gender, they would wear their personalities out.
Our group manifesto has two main directions. Firstly, we want to encourage people to love themselves as they are and not let gender stereotypes hide their colourful personalities. Secondly, we want our customers to be aware of the issues that comes with fast fashion, i.e. environmental and cultural ones and to know that they have the power to make changes. To support this, we are using recycled, ethical and environment-friendly materials in our collection while also supporting local traditions by raising awareness about them.
With this collection we would like to help the young people in Bolivia to gain expertise in sports such as mountaineering, that is why we will be donating 40% of our profit to them.
Poisitioning - Audience
As for the positioning and audience of our collection, we chose Grayson Perry as the muse of our collection, because we believed he represented everything we wanted to show with this collection. He is the perfect example for someone expressing his/her colourful personality through the means of fashion and he does not care about the associations made between clothes and gender, he wears what he wants and when he wants. So, although this is a womenswear collection, we are not targeting women only, we are targeting anyone with a colourful personality, who wants to live in a genderless future and has an awareness of sustainability and preservation of local cultures.
Cholitas Traditional Clothing
The starting point of our research was to look into the traditional clothing of the cholitas. Here the Aguayo, the piece of cloth used for carrying all sorts of material as well as babies, and the layered skirt “pollera” were our main inspiration. A further research on mountaineering and its history led us into looking at women’s hiking attire in Victorian Era. A lot of women mountaineers in that time struggled and even died because of the restriction of movement caused by their long skirts, which escalated the design of skirts that could be shortened to any necessary extent by rolling it up. This has inspired us to design a dress that is quite long, but with the attachment of a recycled carabiner (a mountaineering equipment) can be shortened.
We looked into the bivouac tents and their construction which has inspired us in shapes and materials for our final collection. We also compared the conventional mountaineering clothing and equipment with that of the cholitas, aiming to detect similarities and differences.
Shape & Silhouette
Here you can see how we used a recycled tent to inspire our shape and silhouette.
Of course, our second pioneer Grayson Perry has also inspired us significantly. He led us to a research on cross-dressing and the term androgyny, combination of masculine and feminine characteristics.
We also liked the idea of looking at bloomers, as they are the first female trousers. The bloomers have given us the idea to bring together skirts and trousers in one outfit and playing with the notion of androgyny.
Textiles Contact Sheet
Our textiles student friends Stella, Vanessa and Sanusha in print, embroidery and knit have come up with countless individual and combination samples. On this contact sheet you can see the textiles we have decided to take on to our final collection.
This first combination sample takes its inspiration from the shape of a filled Aguayo. That shape then inspired our knitwear student colleague to come up with a design that resembles a knit ball. With a print inspired by Grayson Perry and his colourful personality, combined with embroidered details that repeats the 3d ball shape, together they have created this textiles design.
This is another combination textiles design that brings together elements of embroidery and print. A print design taking inspiration from Grayson Perry and David Bowie was then embroidered on the fabric which resulted in a textured surface.
Throughout the collection we have also used knitted elements inspired from the traditional Aguayo textile and colourful personalities.
Colour Proportion and Balance
Our colour palette was inspired by the Rainbow Mountains in Peru and an Aguayo textile. Mountaineering was a big aspect of our research initially and that led us to the Rainbow Mountain. The Aguayo textile was of course a really important part of the cholitas’ traditional clothing, which provided us the darker colours in the palette. In the proportion, the pastel colours make the majority of the collection as they are the colours for the bases of the garments whereas the darker and more pigmented colours are there to balance out the whole collection being the colours of the various textiles used in the collection.
Natural Dye Experiment
Here you can see the individual stages of our experiment. Since our colour palette consisted of pastel colours mostly, we aimed for creating the pastel colours. For the few darker colours we have, we tried leaving the fabric in the pigmented water for a longer time. The turmeric example proves, the longer the fabric sits in the dyed water, the darker the final colour appears.
For woven fabrics we chose Natural Draped Peace Silk and Ivory Recycled Polyester Satin and for knit fabrics we chose Cream Undyed Organic Single Jersey and Super Soft Milk Jersey. These fabrics were all supplied by OFFSET WAREHOUSE, a company offering a range of sustainable and ethical fabrics and haberdashery. They have an easy to follow website where they put all the relevant information about the materials which was the main reason why we chose this company specifically. The chosen fabrics were all in natural or white colours, so that we could perform a natural dye experiment and create our own colours without using chemical dyes that harm the environment.
For the range plan we created 30 garments including one jumpsuit, five trousers, two leggings, five dresses, one skirt overall, seven tops, one sweater, five different styles of jackets, and three garments that can be incorporated into outfits as additional garment details like an accessory.
Final Line-up, front and back
We decided to have quite layered outfits, this was an idea originating from the layered skirts of the cholitas: the pollera. We brought together items associated with women and men in the same outfit, playing with the notion of androgyny; and combined dresses and skirts with trousers underneath to refer to the bloomers. Overall, our garments consisted of pastel colours, which was intentional. We wanted the textiles to bring the excitement to the collection to emphasise our concept: Who are you beyond your gender? Strip off your gender layer and reveal your colourful personality.
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