As Semester 1 has come to a close and we get ready for the next—we can’t believe we’re already halfway through 2018!—we’d like to take a moment and celebrate some activities in the School and our broader community. This week on the Houndstooth we recap on Semester one in wrapping up a number of recent events and exhibitions you might have missed.
‘The Future of What we Wear’ at Melbourne Knowledge Week, presented by RMIT University at the Meat Market, North Melbourne, Sunday May 13, 2018
As part of Melbourne Knowledge Week 2018, the School of Fashion and Textiles presented a one day exhibition addressing what fashion & textiles will mean in the future. Titled ‘The Future of What we Wear’, the event brought together researchers in the School of Fashion & Textiles and PhD candidates to share their work in an interactive public setting, revealing the creative and innovative ways in which they are re-thinking fashion and materials in a digital age. The exhibition collated a range of projects, giving the public an opportunity to see some of the ideas, thoughts and innovations taking place in apparel, textiles and fashion. Some of the projects that were included in the exhibition were:
‘Protective Coatings for Fabrics’ presented by Dr Xin Wang. A research project looking at using nano-technology to coat fabrics and provide protection from a range of chemical/biological and radio-logical (BBRN) hazards—one that does so in more environmental and less toxic way than past applications.
‘Live:scape BLOOM’ by Caroline McMillan, is a project that considers materials and design processes that are not traditionally associated with smart materials, to develop fabric patterns that can change according go real time and date feeds.
Jo Cramer’s ‘The Living Wardrobe’ is a project that showcased garments that investigate design practice and processes that potentially allow the fostering of enduring and active relationships with everyday garments.
Tarryn Handcock’s ‘The Dust Project’, looks at the tension between the length of time a garment will fit (a body or sense of self (and it’s material durability – taking both an environmental and ethical perspective and exploring the potential of slow and ethical methodologies as alternative to fashions’ fast pace.
Researchers who presented their work as part of the exhibition included Jenny Underwood, Xin Wang, Caroline McMillan, Jane Morley, Kam Huah Soh and Che-Wei Hu, Kate Kennedy, Shadi Houshyar, Tarryn Handcock, Jo Cramer and Pia Interlandi.
Further information on the event can be found in the Melbourne Knowledge Week listing on the festival website, here: https://mkw.melbourne.vic.gov.au/events/the-future-of-what-we-wear/
Show us your Metiers, The Hanger, Thursday June 7, 2018
As part of their second year studio project, Bachelor of Fashion (Design)(Honours) coordinated by Peter Boyd and Chantal McDonald presented in the Hanger space at Brunswick. The Show Us Your Metiers exhibition was set up as a way for students to respond to the Festival of Metiers that had been held earlier in their semester. In the initial festival multiple workshops, presentations, discussions and a reading room were set up in the Hanger Space for students to engage with and actively discover a suite of aspects of that which defines tailoring and the jacket. Having further developed these aspects through their own independent and speculative projects the coming together of the students and their work at its conclusion enriched the conversations and the collective sharing of new knowledge and insights obtained. The brief for the installation of the work in the Hanger Space required students to include only their jacket outcomes, an image and an abstract – these constraints were emplaced to facilitate a collectively astute survey of project propositions for tailoring and the jacket that could be exchanged across all studios.
‘mixed métiers’ portraits – students across all year 2 tailoring studio groups strike a pose in their jacket outcomes as they exit the Show Us Your Metiers exhibition, 2018.
Second year student Amy Lawrence shared some insight on her project, ‘Tailor’s Cabbage’, in response to the studio and the ‘Show us your Metiers’ brief:
My response to the brief was driven by a tactile, 3D approach to design. In previous Studio assignments (in first year) I found myself working toward a pre-conceived design illustration. However, this project was much more fluid and unpredictable—I didn’t want to anticipate what the end result would be. This made it an exciting (and slightly scary) process. My tailored jacket outcome was driven by the term ‘Tailor’s Cabbage’ which is an interesting colloquialism that describes ‘the pieces of cloth left in cutting out garments and traditionally kept by tailors as perquisites’. Although, traditionally the ‘tailor’s cabbage’ would be reserved for small sections of interlining, my project aimed to externalise these tailoring scraps by using them as the outer shell in a mosaic-like jacket form. What I took away from the studio was a huge appreciation for the skill, amount of time and practice that goes into becoming a ‘tailor’.
Student Rani Muker also shared their thoughts on their project, and being involved in the studio:
Starting the studio ‘Avant Bri-Garde’ I had little knowledge on the types and functions of militarised jackets, I began exploring the sentimental and personal connections between war jackets and their wearers, questioning why are military jackets personal? From there, I looked at what happens to soldiers’ individual experiences of their jacket. This brought out themes of death, surrender, bravery, fear and prisoners of war. I realised these ideas by using buckles and ties around the cuffs to emulate themes of restraint through tailoring hardware. The most surprising feature of the studio was discovering how rewarding it was to finish a tailored jacket; you gain a great appreciation for something that is seen to be so pivotal to everyday wardrobes. The project has made me appreciate the importance of small details, and know that it isn’t just the surface of the garment that makes something the way it is; it’s the work we don’t see that really makes something amazing.
The Show us your Metiers jackets in an exhibition on work produced in the tailoring studio on display in The Hangar.
Xanthe Ficarra, another second year student, reflected on the studio in the following terms:
I enjoyed the freedom of the studio in allowing us to develop an idea and completely dissect it in our own unique way. Showcasing our work in the form of an exhibition, rather than a panel assessment, allowed us to focus more on technique and research, and less on the detail and stress that often accompanies presenting. Though there was a general worry that it would be difficult to explain our creative process without presenting, presenting together in this way made us look at our collections, lookbooks and garments as a collective.
Millie DeBoo also added her thoughts about participating in the ‘Show us your Metiers’ group exhibition:
I also loved the way of presenting and exhibiting our final designs in ‘Show us you Metiers’, in a way there was much less pressure than the panel assessment format, especially after you’ve had near-to-no sleep for about two weeks leading up to it! I liked how it was more of an exhibition of our garments and work and felt that it gave more people a chance to see and enjoy our creations. I am very much looking forward to expanding the skills I have learnt throughout this studio and enjoyed the semester a lot!
Virtual Studio Project, collaboration between Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and The Associate Degree Fashion (Design & Technology)
In a cross-university and industry collaborative project focusing on recycling the Coles Supermarket uniform, RMIT University partnered with AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute) in The Netherlands, and local companies Coles and Bizwear. Coordinated by their Program Manager Mandy Penton, students from the Associate Degree in Fashion Design and Technology developed design proposals for Coles Supermarket to repurpose excess and obsolete garment stocks of their uniform. Students looked at the long-sleeve shirt created by Bizwear and worn by Coles employees as an opportunity to be repurposed into a new and usable product.
Mandy explained that, ‘We had already planned to work with AMFI based on successful projects we had undertaken previously with Salford University in the UK. Mike Glunig from Bizwear approached the program with a new challenge after success of the Coles uniform project we had participated in the year before. Students were tasked to develop ideas for Bizwear to re-use the left over stock of obsolete garments and fabrics when Coles Supermarkets launched their new line of uniforms. We thought this challenge would be an exciting and relevant design problem for the students.’
As a team across the two countries, students brainstormed as a global design team to form ideas and innovations for sustainable repurposing of obsolete uniforms that could be used for positive end uses. The project gave students the chance to explore design and conceptual development in a collaborative setting not usually available in the traditional classroom. Adding to this, the Virtual Studio Project also gave students the opportunity to build international network of contacts, experience cultural differences and perspectives, without the expense of travel.
The products and ideas produced by the students were creative and diverse, with many tackling the problem in a social context: to support for homeless people, refuges for domestic violence victims, as well as community and school programs. Products ranged from zero-waste teddy bears with a sustainable story, utility bags that converted to wraps and jackets, as well as shopper bags, hats, pencil cases and book covers. These exciting and innovative solutions encouraged students to think in dynamic ways to address major environmental issue of waste facing the fashion system and its modes of production.
Thank you to all the efforts across the School involved in these events, and congratulations on a great semester! We’re looking forward to sharing more updates with you as the rest of the year unfolds. Up next on the Houndstooth Chantal Kirby takes over the helm as a guest Houndstooth blogger sharing some insight on the recent ‘State of Fashion’ conference held at ArtEZ University of the Arts in Arnhem (The Netherlands) and the collaborative project between RMIT University students with the Swedish School of Textiles (University of Borås), ‘The Swatch of Luxury’. Stay tuned!