(eco) threads: alice sutton
The manufacturing industries of today are becoming increasingly concerned with sustainability as environmental health becomes more relevant than ever before. Accordingly, the world of fashion is beginning to grapple with this ethical and economic imperative – but how does an industry of extravagance, artistic expression and opulence shift to sustainability? It’s a complex task, but major labels and independent designers are stepping up to the plate. We’re beginning to see internationally renowned designers like Stella McCartney integrating sustainability into their fashion philosophy. McCartney, for example, uses biodegraded, organic or recycled materials across all of her lines. Many emerging designers are following suit, working with recycled materials like coffee filters, newspapers and even garbage bags to create sculptural and challenging pieces. As sustainable fashion continues to grow, so too do the platforms on which it is shared. Portland Fashion Week, somewhat unsurprisingly, is leading the way. Their upcoming 2013 Fashion Week will see collections presented on an ecological friendly bamboo runway in addition to offsetting the entire carbon footprint of the festival with a carbon mitigation replanting project.
Within Australia, this burgeoning movement is well represented by a host of young designers, whose fashion philosophies combine the pursuit of innovation with practical, sustainable practice. Of particular note is the Canberran designer Alice Sutton, a young woman looking to change the environmental impact of fashion through her sustainable, unique label EDITION. Sutton, who studied Design at the Canberra Institute of Technology, has recently emerged in the Australian Eco-Fashion scene thanks to EDITION’s clean, carefully curated aesthetic. Sutton draws her inspiration from beautiful landscapes and places that have a story to tell to create earth toned garments that drape and float over the wear’s bodies.
EDITION doesn’t simply deliver contemporary, streamlined fashion; Sutton approaches every aspect of the design process thoughtfully. She integrates a ‘Selvedge 2 Selvedge’ philosophy into her work, explaining that ‘all EDITION garments are made so that all the pattern pieces fit together on the fabric, from the selvedge on one side to the selvedge on the other; this means that no fabric scrapes end up in landfill.’ Sutton’s complex understanding of every facet of the design process sees her focus not only on the final product, but the way in which it is produced.
This comprehensive approach to her label is what really sets her apart from other young designers: she’s constantly seeking ways to improve her practice and refine her designs. She explain that she chose to call her label EDITION as she is ‘always trying to improve and edit what I have done in the previous collection….every collection being a new edition of the one before, I feel like I am getting closer to exactly how I want my label to be.’ Constantly seeking to better EDITION and challenge herself, Sutton recently garnered nation attention through her involvement in Project Upcycle. This 14 day challenge saw six artists and designers from around Australia create artworks using Nespresso Coffee Capsules. Sutton integrated 5,000 used coffee capsules into a wool dress that appeared in The Museum of Contemporary on the 25th of July.
Although Sutton believes sustainable fashion is becoming more popular, ‘it would be great for Australia to really get on board with it.’ She believes that modern designers should be establishing a more transparent relationship with their customers. In allowing the consumer to be more involved in the process of creation, they end up knowing the story of their garment – something they can treasure for a long time. EDITION deals not only with clothe, but their overall impact on the earth and later, the women who wear them.
Alice Sutton’s Project Upcyle Artwork will be on display in the Nespresso Canberra Boutique form the 29th July to the 1st September 2013.