New Zealand fashion students at Massey University are leading a brand new kind of social enterprise producing local, recycled fashion. The initiative called Space Between is a thoughtful new way to design, focusing on alternatives to mass-produced high-waste clothing, and creating ethical business opportunities for the fashion industry.
Senior Lecturer Jennifer Whitty says that Space Between “proposes a new social dimension for design practice, social development and for increased societal participation in the design process using strategies such as co- design/pre-order/feedback fashion/crowd sourced.” Their goal is “develop alternative connections between design, manufacturing systems and consumption habits.”
Space Between has two distinct missions in creating garments, and creating better fashion business practices.
The garments are known as “The Fundamentals” range. All of the one-of-kind pieces are constructed from locally sourced materials, such as unwanted corporate uniforms.
“Our fundamental range will be made on demand, is season-less available all year round in an effort to avoid the high turn over of waste ready mass production system,” says Whitty.
The second facet of Space Between is “The Fashion Lab,” where the focus is on taking waster out of system of garment development.
The team explores research strategies that shift fashion towards zero waste through products and services, and challenge the norms of consumption and retail and post- purchase. They also look at models of making zero-waste garments that could be used to influence the future of the fashion industry.
“It is estimated by WRAP that 16 million items of branded corporate clothing are disposed of every year in the United Kingdom, which equates to approximately 39.2 million individual garments,” Whitty says. “Currently only 9 percent of this is recovered for reuse.”
Whitty says that “human and social capital (Fuad Luke 2009, 7) are central concerns to Space Between.”
The design team has worked in collaboration with not-for-profit apparel manufacturer Earthlink to engender trust, generate reciprocity and to develop good practices across the supply chain.
“Both Earthlink and Space Between share sustainable goals and the mutually beneficial objective to create a local industry, which alters the conventional designer- manufacturer relationship.”
In this way they are challenge the work patterns by creating horizontal communities rather than vertical manufacturing. In essence, the graduates are creating jobs for themselves through these collaborations.
“Waste is important to Space Between as the discussion around sustainability in fashion and textiles often focuses on technical concerns rather than the real issues which are social ones of consumption and waste which run deep and are complex.”