Sustainable Fashion in Theory and Practice

LOCAL BUTTONS AND RYERSON FASHION STUDENTS TRAVEL TO PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI TO STUDY SUSTAINABLE & ETHICAL FASHION IN THEORY AND PRACTICE

Unemployment remains at an all time high in Haiti following the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Many skilled garment-makers and designers remain jobless due to the lack of exposure to international markets. The sparse garment jobs that are currently available in Haiti are often subject to poor pay and horrific working conditions. Local Buttons creates up-cycled professional wear and accessories that embody style and quality. Each piece provides sustainable, fair pay jobs in Haiti and breathes new life into old materials.

Local Buttons and the Ryerson School of Fashion collaborate to lead a select group of fashion students to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to learn first hand about ethical production and sustainability in the fashion industry. Students will be visiting Port-au-Prince from June 2nd-6th, 2014 visiting multiple factories, local designers and artisans and a bottle recycling plant that makes textiles in the US from recycled Haitian bottles.

Lu Ann Lafranz, program director of fashion design at Ryerson states  ‘As a strong supporter of experiential learning for our students at Ryerson School of Fashion, I saw an opportunity to ignite further interest in sustainable fashion through our hosts – Local Buttons. What better way to allow students to push the boundaries of their education than to reach outside the walls of our classrooms and create an international experience?’

The trip will provide an inside view of manufacturing to students whose education traditionally remains in the academic and design aspect. Opening the doors to ‘expose’ manufacturing will allow students to see first-hand the various levels of the supply chain and the human and environmental impact of our consumption patterns in North America.

Alec Hildebrand, Ryerson fashion student states: ‘By seeing first hand what the factories are like and what the ethical occupational standards are in a developing country, I will hopefully be able to design garments that not only fit my aesthetic and functionality, but also are able to be manufactured at a relative cost with upheld fair trade and proper safety standards.’

‘We are thrilled to bring students into our production process’ states Anne Pringle, co-founder of Local Buttons. ‘It has been our goal since day one to provide transparency throughout our line and encourage collaboration within the design community’.

For more information contact Anne Pringle: anne@localbuttons.ca

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Fashioning the Mind

“The only real elegance is in the mind; if you’ve got that, the rest really comes from it.”
-Diane Vreeland
The integration of fashion and academia is not something that immediately springs to mind when you start speaking about clothing. However, the two are closely linked. Fashion integrates architecture, engineering, chemistry and art. It is this integration that allows for the greatest creations.
The fashion industry, which must constantly reinvent itself, is undergoing a massive change as consumers begin to demand more from their clothing. A shift away from fast fashion and towards ‘slow’ fashion is the only way forward. We are beginning to place greater emphasis on understanding the impacts of the fashion industry on our natural environment and those who create our garments. But in order to succeed, it is vital that equal attention is paid to aesthetic, functionality and impact.
Just last week we got to be the fashion nerds we really are as we watched (like proud mamas) our Cornell dream team present to a team of judges in DC for the 2014 P3 Competition and National Sustainable Design Expo at the 3rd USA Science and Engineering Festival.  The team presented the findings of a year-long study/project focusing on waste reduction in the clothing manufacturing sector based on our model in Port-au-Prince.  The dream team won an honourable mention and we are thrilled to know the partnership with Cornell will continue!
Oh, we also met Bill Nye on our DC adventures.
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The LB/Cornell Dream Team

Last year we were fortunate enough to commence a partnership with Cornell University (funded by the EPA) and the ‘dream team’ of professors and students to help us work on creating zero waste pattern design at our design lab in Port-au-Prince. Our team consists of fashion and design officiandos, fibre scientists, fashion historians and a whole lot of creativity.  After a few months of product development we welcomed  Dr Tasha Lewis, the chef of our  Cornell team, to visit us in PAP to see the progress. With her arrival we began to manufacture 4 new beautiful pieces designed by yours truly with patterns and technicals made by the Cornell dream team.

We are working to minimize our waste through the design process with the ultimate goal of zero waste pattern design. In the meantime we are looking for creative and innovative ways to use our scraps created from our design process. We are inspired to collaborate with other artists, designers and professionals in Haiti to create a network that allows us to share our resources and to find innovative ways to create sustainable business models in Haiti. This is merely the tip of the iceberg of where the dream team will go!

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Partnership with Cornell

photo-2It’s September, that time of year where we wistfully say goodbye to summer and begin to shift towards the Fall. Really this just means switching to sweaters, boots, scarves and soups! It also is a time to take an introspective look at what we have accomplished as the year begins to come to a close.

For many, September means a return to the books or the final weekends at the cottage. I am happy to say I no longer have to return to class. I am currently just waiting for my thesis to write itself. I remain confident I will wake up one day and an eloquent masterpiece will present itself having been written in my sleep.

While we (the collective LB) may not be returning to class this Fall to learn, we are heading to Cornell to give a guest lecture. Not going to lie, giving a lecture at any Ivy League School makes me feel kind of grown up. I can officially check this off the bucket list!

We have partnered with the fabulous Dr. Tasha Lewis of Cornell to work on a project with a group of talented fashion students on zero waste pattern design. This September will mark the first meeting of the research group and we are very very excited to meet everyone!! We are looking to improve our manufacturing practices so that we can reduce the waste created throughout our production processes. To mitigate the waste we currently use scraps to make bags and bow ties, to stuff the pillows used on our factory chairs and are looking to begin a new jewelry line:)

However, we know there is ALWAYS room for improvement and working with Cornell could not have come at a more opportune time. We head to Ithaca next Monday and cannot wait see how this project will unfold.

Here is to a Fall of new beginnings, we couldn’t be more excited to slip on a sweater or in our case an up-cycled blazer:)

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