Friday, April 25, 2008

Post Consumer to New Design

Dolly Rocker recycled & restructured clothing

Enter the Dolly Rocker boutique at Gärtnerstraße 25 in Berlin and experience a fantasy room full of delightful children’s clothes, accessories and toys. The adjacent workroom contains stacks of colorful clothing items collected at flea markets and jumble sales ready to be reinterpreted. Ina Langenbruch first started recycling after the birth of her first daughter when she converted a woolen scarf to make a baby jumper. Her goal at that time was mainly to have something to do beyond just taking care of the baby, however, she realized that the cute and practical clothes she created had market potential. Her friend from fashion school, Gabi Hartkopp, meanwhile was designing and making women’s clothes. Their partnership began initially to take advantage of government subsidies for artists in the dilapidated east Berlin district of Friedrichshain.

Ina in the Dolly Rocker workroom, "raw" materials

Now, four years later, the revitalized area is full of cool little shops and the rents are going up. This is problematic for Ina & Gabi who with the help of 1-2 fashion school interns sew all of the clothing themselves. They are both committed to the idea of making affordable and accessible clothes for children and strive to avoid the more economically feasible world of luxury designer items for rich kids. This is extremely difficult considering all the handwork involved and at this point is only possible through their own direct sales. Most of their customers are from Berlin although some tourists have discovered them and tell their friends. Eventually they hope to set up a shopping option on their website. They’ve discussed the idea of adding non-recycled fashions to their stocklist but they are remiss to give up the additional benefit of previously worn and laundered clothing--any pesticide or chemical residue has long been washed out.

Armour Sans Anguish designs

Armour Sans Anguish also crafts garments from post-consumer waste. Designer Tawny Holt hunts for old shirts, dresses, and pants at the Goodwill Industries’ “cast-off” warehouse, a sort of purgatory for items the stores have declined. The garments may have broken zippers or small tears, but serve as prime raw material for Holt’s approach to design. (Goodwill clothes not purchased at this point are repurposed as industrial rags or sold to bulk textile recyclers—nothing you give to Goodwill gets thrown in a landfill.)

After carefully cleaning and sorting her fabrics, Holt drapes and reworks shapes. She notes that “a 'use what you have' philosophy demands an out-of-the-box approach to making undesirables desirable again…My design process often revolves around problem solving.” Rather than using conventional pattern-based cutting, she approaches each garment according to its strengths and flaws, often adding new layers to replace worn or damaged areas. In creating these one-off pieces, she maintains the flexibility to change and adapt silhouettes to seasonal trends. Holt also uses notions from second-hand stores rather than purchasing new goods.

Both Armour Sans Anguish and Dolly Rocker experience the challenge of producing and manufacturing one-of-a-kind garments. While there can be consistency in style, surprise and chance dictate the fabric choices. An integral component to success relies on educating the consumer to appreciate the uniqueness of each piece. Fortunately, with Holt’s fashion forward sensibility and Dolly Rockers’s ultra cute creativity, this isn’t much of a stretch.


AMIT said...

Yeah it is a nice fashion types.

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Drawing For Fashion Design said...

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