ZWS appoints designers for 'Love Your Clothes' residency

Two Scottish designers have won the chance to create ‘fashion-forward’ collections from discarded garments after a competition held by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) to promote the value of textile waste.

Part of the ‘Love Your Clothes’ Campaign, the competition was launched in collaboration with the Salvation Army Trading Company (SATC) and will see the two designers take up a 12-week residency to create two new ‘catwalk-worthy’ collections from 150kg of unwanted garments, donated by the charity.

ZWS appoints designers for Love Your Clothes residencyAimee Kent, who has previously worked with sustainable design store The Top Project, and Black Cherry Studio were both chosen to take up the roles, and will receive £3,500 for their part in the project. They will also be able to keep the collections at the end of the 12 weeks.

The commission will finish on 28 February 2016, with the collections unveiled in March.

ZWS hopes that the collections will encourage people to think about the way they purchase, use and dispose of clothes.  It is estimated that in the UK, garments have an approximate lifetime of two years and three months..

On being awarded the residency, Aimee Kent said: “This opportunity is the perfect fit for me, because I already run a sustainable surface pattern design which focuses on the re-use of materials. I want to create designs that can be worn again and again and never go out of style. That’s what I intend to do here.”

Jemma Wood, owner of Black Cherry Studio, added: “I want to create a meaningful collection that brings together elements of both the Salvation Army and Zero Waste Scotland. Our specialism is textile print, which will breathe new life into the unwanted garments and shoe people that with a little creativity you can turn the unwanted into the desirable. I can’t wait to get started.”

 ‘Donate old clothes first and recycle second’

According to ZWS, an average Scottish household owns approximately £4,000-worth of clothes with only 70 per cent being worn each year, mainly due to items not fitting correctly.

It estimates that every year clothes to the value of approximately £140 million (350,000 tonnes) are thrown away and end up in landfill sites. In addition, The SATC receives over 30,000 tonnes of clothes every year, which are donated via their 52 charity shops and thousands of recycling banks in Scotland.

ZWS believes that most unwanted clothing can be turned into something valuable and want to encourage people to see that their clothes have value.

Lynn Wilson, Textiles Manager at ZWS, said: “The project aims to encourage Scots to pass on or donate old clothes first and recycle second. All textiles have a value and can be used again and again; clothing should never be put in the bin.

 “Our two fabulous winners are eager to get started by hand-picking their staple pieces from five tonnes of unwanted garments. They will then set to work over the next 12 weeks creating a new fashion and textiles collection using this previously unwanted and unsellable clothing. It will be interesting to see if anyone recognises their old clothes when we have the big reveal.”

‘So much value in textiles’

The Salvation Army, one of the biggest clothing retailers in the UK, uses funds raised from the resale of garments towards helping vulnerable people.

Catherine Hamou from SATC said: “There is so much value in textiles that people often don’t see, so we’re really excited to play a part in this project. The creativity of these talented designers should prove to be very inspiring and we’re looking forward to the results over the coming months.

“As a charity that works with vulnerable people all over the country, we see the effects of poverty every day; clothing should never been thrown away when it can be reused or re-worn. Donating textiles to charities like us means that you’re helping to raise millions of pounds each year for people who need it most – and not only that, but you’re helping to prevent hugely unnecessary waste that could be heading straight to landfill.”

Projects funded by the Salvation Army involve care for older people, homeless and addiction services, help at emergency incidents, support for adult victims of human trafficking in England and Wales, a Family Tracing Service among others.

More information on Love Your Clothes can be found at the campaign’s website.