A design for the future

“If I couldn’t do fashion design in an ethical, sustainable way,

I don’t think I could have a career in fashion”

Ultimo TAFE fashion student Mikaila Jancevski loves fashion – but she’s under no illusion that it’s one of the most toxic of all industries. It’s generally accepted that fashion is as polluting if not more so then the energy, mining or transport industries – for example cotton uses the most pesticides of any crop in the world. She’s determined not be part of the problem, by creating fashion that’s sustainable and ethical as well as beautiful.

“If I couldn’t do fashion design in an ethical, sustainable way, I don’t think I could have a career in fashion,” Mikaila said.

After hearing about the Australian Ethical Student Scholarship Grant through her college, Mikaila decided to apply – and was thrilled when she ended up winning one.

“As part of my course I have to produce an ‘eight-body’ collection – that’s eight different looks,” she explained. “My Grant is going towards producing this collection.”

 

No waste, compostable clothing

Mikaila’s designs employ two principles of sustainability. The first, cradle-to-cradle, is a concept that replicates Earth’s natural cycle. Mikaila’s garments are made from natural fibres that can be composted so they don’t end up in landfill. They’re also dyed with natural substances so that nothing toxic ends up in the compost (and inevitably the Earth).

“I have also been experimenting and sampling out many natural dying techniques in order to add interest to my cradle to cradle pieces.  I have been experimenting with natural cochineal dye, flowers, fruits and vegetables, including frozen and tinned cherries, raspberries and onion skins” Mikaila said in her application.

Mikaila Application 6 - Medium

Source: Mikaila’s application to Australian Ethical Study Grant

The second principle is of zero waste.

“The way patterns are usually laid out means about 5 to 20% of the fabric is wasted,” she said. “By draping and folding fabrics, I don’t need to cut the fabric, so nothing is thrown away.”

“Here is a toile (sample garment) of a zero waste dress that I have the pattern made.  This garment will be made from a 100% organic and 100% natural fibre, a rayon silk jersey. I intend to hand dye this, with a natural dye called cochineal.  This dress will be a zero waste and a cradle to cradle design,” Mikaila said in her application.

Mikaila Application 5 - Medium

Source: Mikaila’s application to Australian Ethical Study Grant

Once her studies are completed and she gains some experience, Mikaila plans to start her own label based on sustainable and ethical principles.

“When most people pass a shop window, they don’t think about where or how a garment was made or how long it will last – they just think ‘Oh that’s nice I’d like to buy it.’ But I believe the more people are aware of how bad fast fashion is, the less likely they are to buy it.”

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