The Redetermined Dress Collection began as a research project. In 2007 I began questioning fashion’s sustainability, in particular I was concerned with wasteful fashion consumption and the rapidly growing throwaway culture that was developing in Aotearoa. Along my journey I began exploring ReFashion as an intervention for reclaiming discarded textile items and reconstructing new clothing for return to the fashion stream.
My view is that discarded clothing is an untapped commodity, a rich fibre/textile resource to be conserved and transformed into contemporary fashion. During the first scoping phase of my ReFashion experimentation, I transformed numerous discarded items into further unique and wearable clothing. In the mid 2000’s the word, ReFashion, had filtered into fashion product terminology and many high-fashion labels were reusing and recycling vintage fabrics, but it remained a ‘one-off’ principle. The reason for this is it’s difficult to find a guaranteed supply of the starting point materials because items in the second-hand market cannot be predicted. This limits the producer’s ability to maintain product continuity and each product becomes a ‘one-off’. Hence the determination that refashion was only suitable for niche markets, the low unit production was definitely a barrier that was unlikely to be attractive to large fashion businesses.
One of the early experiments, which transformed a men’s trouser into a contemporary fashion dress, highlighted the potential for targeting men’s dress trousers: quality of cloth within a semi-standard size and shape; similar construction and tailored details; apparent availability of large quantities in second-hand markets. So I began collecting discarded trousers and tested these to determine whether the unique ReFashion processes could be suitably scaled-up for larger fashion businesses.
This strategy to limit input stock to men’s trouser permitted a way of filtering the complex issues created by worn garments, providing opportunities for in-depth examination and interpretation. Throughout my research, I focussed on the process rather than the artefact. I analysed the processes and methods I was using in the development of each prototype and carefully unpicked my tacit understandings. My emphasis was on repeatability, identifying and recording the appropriate manufacturing knowledge, techniques and processes that would be required to repeat the ‘product’. In this manner I was able to identify a methodical process unique to ReFashion and highlight the issues relating to patterning for repeatability when using second-hand garments (disassembly, component reuse, usable piece size, nature of the second-hand garment, complexity and jigsaw fit, expertise of the cutter, initial selection and stock recording).
RedDress: The Redetermined Dress Collection provides the evidence of the possibility of ReFashioning a standardised fashion ‘product’. This Black T-Series pinafore dress, by RedDress is a classic LBD design that gently defines the waist, it can be dressed up for a night out or worn casually with a T-shirt. It is the ultimate in component reuse having been individually remade from discarded men’s trousers. The generic qualities of each trouser sourced, enables both a uniformity and a dynamic process, imparting each dress with its own unique characteristics. The Redetermined Dress is an authentic zero-waste product and is ethically constructed from reclaimed and disused textiles and handcrafted in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
You can read the full development of the T-Series here:
Fraser, K. (2018). ReDress: Maximising Component Reuse for Fashion. In Crocker, R., & Chiveralls, K. (Eds.), Subverting consumerism: Reuse in an accelerated world. Edited volume, UK: Routledge. (Chapter 9 pages: 225-247)