It is estimated that around 80%¹ of a product’s environmental impact is locked in at the design stage. As designers, we take to the drawing board seriously, working towards circular fashion. We are guided by our mission to reduce textile waste and pollution in the fashion industry and so, we follow our three design strategies to ensure we are designing out waste, minimising our carbon footprint and transforming the way clothes are designed.
1. We rescue the best materials that are nearing the end of their life in the linear fashion system, and so are getting close to being landfilled or incinerated, and inject them into the circular system by upcycling them into clothes.
2. We reuse excess materials, from textiles, trims to hangtags through the process of upcycling.
3. We re-imagine the power of creativity to solve the crisis of textile waste, by collaborating with emerging sustainable designers with their zero waste, upcycling and reconstruction talents.
Our design strategies continue beyond waste-sourcing, taking meticulous efforts to reduce waste further at the pattern-making stage.
Our elevated range of wardrobe staples 'Start From Zero' collection was created with zero-waste at the core of its design conception. With creativity and innovative pattern cutting, we achieved fabric wastage of 1% or less compared with a typical fabric wastage of 16% using traditional pattern cutting methods.
A highlight from our ‘Start From Zero’ collection, the Nova Top, cleverly utilizes the pleat detailing to conceal excess fabric by tailoring the waist and creating a flattering fit. The technical design process of constructing this pattern was an iterative one. In order to construct this pattern, we calculated the usage of the entire fabric to eliminate gaps and spaces. Most patterns have curved seams that extend at different angles making it impossible to cut without generating scraps.
The R Collective designers resolve to transform the way fashion is made to reduce climate impact. Pictured: Designing the Nova Top.
We also paid close attention to the type and quality of the fabric, the inclination of the weft, warp and bias grains, the width of the fabric and most importantly how the fabric drapes on the body. Knowing this is crucial to help design an efficient pattern that is as admirable on paper as it is on a 3D form. In some cases, designs were constructed by directly draping over a dress form and converting that into a pattern at a later stage, like our Victoria Dress.
There is no one way of creating a 100% zero-waste design. It is a creative process that requires an intuitive open mind as the final outcome may vary from the initial concept as the design evolves through experimentation with waste-reducing construction. Through our design process, we collectively strive to minimize waste, reduce consumption and maximize upcycling as much as possible. A typical The R Collective upcycled jacket has a 60% reduced carbon footprint, compared with a similar jacket created using virgin materials, according to estimates provided by RESET Carbon.
The Whistler Jacket displayed alongside its zero-waste pattern at the Future Fashion Lab exhibition.
As the Ellen MacArthur Foundation ‘Climate Change’ report states, "Greenhouse gas emissions are not falling quickly enough to achieve climate targets and switching to renewable energy can only cut them by 55%. The remaining 45% of emissions come from how we make and use products..." We are committed to reducing textile waste out of the fashion industry by upcycling excess materials from world-leading luxury brands and further designing out waste using zero-waste design techniques and so, we’re proud to share that to date, we have rescued approximately 65,500 yards of fabric which potentially reduces the creation of 34,100 KG of CO2e(*).
¹ Global Fashion Agenda & The Boston Consulting Group 2017.