Zero-Waste Fashion Design is a way of creating garments where waste is designed out of a garment from the very beginning of the process. All the pattern pieces have a function and fit together like a jigsaw creating zero-waste. The designer must create a garment that can equal or surpass a traditional fashion garment without compromising the concept, fit or aesthetics.
My personal exploration of Zero-Waste fashion design is deeply entwined into myself and my practise as a fashion and textile designer. It began back in 2006 during my Masters of Textiles Futures at Central Saint Martins College and developed into the philosophy published in my seminal Master thesis (Liu 2007). At the time I was dissatisfied with existing garments made from a single continuous rectangle of fabric due to their needless use of fabric, lack of tailoring and limited aesthetics. The research explored the benefits of combining the roles of the fashion designer, textile designer, patternmaker and fashion technologist into a single role and thought process. This exceptional individual could make complex decisions, communicating at the speed of thought, achieving a dynamic that a team of individual specialists could not replicate. It required the fashion designer to simultaneously visualise the garment in 3D and as a flat pattern. Using an iterative process the designer could create a garment that was aesthetically pleasing in 3D while also fitting the flat pattern pieces fitted together like a jigsaw.
The research aimed to use zero-waste design to make a material saving of 15% per garment which cumulatively would have significant environmental and commercial benefits. It created a tailored high fashion collection that could compete with conventional fashion without compromise. This philosophy pioneered a unique aesthetic for zero-waste garments and explored many new zero-waste patternmaking techniques.
My zero-waste graduate fashion collection was invited to show in Estethica in London Fashion Week in 2008. At the time I did not know if it was possible to run a purely zero-waste fashion label so I jumped in the deep end and just did it. I produced several collections showing in London Fashion Week over the next few years. These collections would exhibit in museums all over the world including the: UK, US, China, India, Korea, Amsterdam, Denmark and Australia.
Conventional patternmaking principles are limited in their ability to create tailored zero-waste garments. My approach to zero-waste design has always been to understand the underlying structure and function of fashion patternmaking. Over time I would become increasingly dissatisfied with existing fashion patternmaking techniques and I would eventually abandon most of them. As an alternative I would implement new techniques based on principles of modern science and mathematics. This would eventually lead me to put my label on hold and complete a PhD in order to address many systemic problems in fashion patternmaking. I would go on to create the new field of:
“Non-Euclidean Patternmaking” (Liu 2015).
I have not released a zero-waste collection in years. However, I never stopped developing new zero-waste techniques or new collections. My zero-waste fashion techniques have vastly evolved since 2009 and I will release more in the future when the time is right…
LIU, M. 2007, ‘Can engineering textile designs into pattern cutting create innovations in fashion design?’ Masters Thesis, Central Saint Martins College, London University of the Arts, United Kingdom.
LIU, M. 2015, ‘Fashioning Geometric Patterns: Investigating the underlying geometry of fashion patternmaking.’ PhD Thesis, University of Technology Sydney, Australia.