Gallery: ESTETHICA ECO FASHION: Mark Liu’s Zero-Waste Designs


There is a lot of eco-chatter these days about ‘adaptive reuse’ and ‘reclaimed materials’ in green design, particularly in the realm of fashion-forward garments and accessories. Estethica, London Fashion Week’s recent sustainable design showcase featured some great examples of recycled/repurposed materials in designs that are light in footprint but substantial in style. One of the bright young stars of Estethica, Mark Liu, has taken sustainable fashion one step further with his ‘zero-waste’ fabric patterns and eco-designs that do just that, waste not a scrap of fabric. Liu’s pieces are yet another example of why Central Saint Martins grads are true innovators, as his next generation of pattern making is both wearable and cutting edge.

According to Liu, approximately 15% of fabric is typically wasted in the pattern cutting and sewing of each garment manufactured. Liu has created a method of cutting a jigsaw pattern from a single piece of fabric in order to create all of the components to be assembled in his design. (Since fabric widths are standardized, there is a tremendous amount of waste that is generated with each pattern cut.) The designer views his technique as being an “eco-efficiency” that has been completely overlooked in the industry as well as in the training of young designers in art and fashion programs. He also advocates using engineered screen printing in order to pre-draw patterns on fabrics to be cut.

Mark Liu‘s work will soon be featured in the forthcoming book, Sustainable Fashion: Why Now, by Fairchild Books. We look forward to seeing more from this young designer and learning in the process how to reinvent the patterns and methods of the garment industry without sacrificing style.

+ Mark Liu
+ Zero Waste Pattern Design on Fashion Incubator
+ Estethica at London Fashion Week


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  1. ljgill123 March 26, 2011 at 5:26 pm

    I just wanted follow on from what Timo said about the increase in the production of zero-waste fashion. To further motivate you I can inform you that Leeds University Fashion Design students, myself, spend half our first year designing zero-waste products following your lead. Thank you

  2. ellen March 13, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    This is all very good and innovate. But, hoping not to sound like some nasty shoulder pad feminist, can’t we move to sustainable fashion on models who aren’t stick figures, or is designing for unrealistically bone -thin women a part of eco-fashion in that it uses less material?

    Really, I’d think that there was a way to get all of this to work together.

  3. bookmarks (... March 9, 2008 at 6:00 am

    […] Mark Liu?s Zero-Waste Designs – "… Mark Liu, … ?zero-waste? fabric patterns and eco-designs that … waste not a scrap of fabric." This is one of the methods I see Soko Loko using design innovation to reduce costs – allowing more room for higher labour costs and organic materia […]

  4. Timo Rissanen February 27, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Thanks Abigail. I’ve just realised I didn’t include thanks for writing about this – thank you! When I started the research in 2004, most people would stare at me blankly when I told them what I was doing, and finding Burnham’s research last year was a bit of a validating moment. But anyway, having people like you write about these things and promoting the likes of Mark and others is invaluable; please keep it up!
    With thanks,

  5. Abigail Doan February 26, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Thanks for your excellent follow up, Timo. For those who are interested Timo Rissanen, PhD candidate, has a great write-up re: this topic on Fashion Incubator :

    I very much look forward to reading your chapter in ‘Sustainable Fashion: Why Now?

    Sounds like essential reading! I even heard the term ‘zero-waste’ used at this year’s Oscars coverage which made me twinge a bit, but I was pleased as well that folks are catching on – 35 years late.

    Best wishes,

    Abigail @ Inhabitat

  6. Timo Rissanen February 26, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Good point that needs some clarification. Miyake’s A-POC is a fundamentally different approach to Cut & Sew (Mark’s approach). As amazing a way to make clothes (and other things) as I think A-POC is, I don’t think it means the end of Cut & Sew, the most common way of designing and making clothes. I tried to explain the differences in a conference paper in 2005, and again in my chapter in ‘Sustainable Fashion: Why Now?’, just out from Fairchild Books. In both texts I’ve covered other examples of a no-waste approach to fashion design, perhaps most notably by Zandra Rhodes and Yeohlee Teng. Since writing those, I’ve also been introduced to the research by Deborah K. Burnham – she was researching it 35 years ago. It’s funny that all of a sudden no-waste is a new thing, when really it’s a really old thing, when you start digging. Hundreds, if not thousands of years old.

  7. laura February 24, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    let’s not forget dan fujiwara and issey miyake’s A-POC technique of making a garment from a single piece of thread; also tremendously reducing waste via eliminating patternmaking. miyake and liu should team up.

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