Sustainable Thinking

Hellen van Rees was selected as one of the designers at the forefront of contemproary sustainability by Sara Maino of Vogue Italia and Marina Spadafora of Fashion Revolution to create a special piece for the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum in Florence, Italy.

The creation would show the designers’ view on the wide topic of sustainability. Hellen van Rees focussed on recycling and using waste/discarded/flawed material to create this special piece.

Flaws, in the industry, causing waste, further pressuring the environment. Flaws in textile, that is then usually discarded. What if these flaws are re-evaluated? If they can be turned from a negative into a positive?

In this piece Hellen van Rees aims to show exactly that.

She wants to celebrate flaws in textile manufacturing and use it as a design element. To empathize on the beauty in flaws. They are in fact an irregularity, meaning they are more unique, less generic. Isn’t that what we are all looking for?

She wanted to use discarded materials, post-consumer textile waste that is made into a new textile. The main, denim-like, woven textile is created in collaboration with Enschede Textielstad. Hellen was inspired by a swatch with a weaving flaw in it. In a part it was showing less yarns per cm2 of the dark warp, leaving part of the white weft exposed. She wanted to magnify this effect, showing the beauty in it, placing it prominently in a circular shape in a similarly circular shaped skirt. Smaller flaws are used in the cover layer of the felt panels.

Creating new yarns (to use for weaving/knitting) from recycled post-consumer textile waste is a challenge, because the shorter fibers in recycled yarn, it gives a weaker yarn. Thus, has to be combined with virgin material. The aim is to have an as high as possible percentage recycled fibers while maintaining an excellent quality.  For this project Hellen collaborated with Annemieke at Enschede Textielstad in creating the main textile for this piece.

There’s also a felt material made from shredded post-consumer textile waste. These often have a low grade and invisible application, such as isolation, Hellen wanted to show it in a high-end context to show what actually is possible with these materials. The bird/fish panel in the top of the outfit is made from this. It’s inspired by M.C. Eschers drawings of matching fish and birds that are actually symmetric and repeating, leaving no gaps in between. With modern laser cutting technology it’s possible to cut any complex shape, so she used this to cut the pieces in leaving no space in between to go to waste in this process.  she wanted to show the geometric logic, so started with simple squares and then transformed them more and more into the figurative shapes of these animals. These animals that we often see in the news as the innocent victims of our industry and consumer behavior.

The end result is a sophisticated and elegant outfit that is part of the sustainable thinking exhibition until march 2020.