Textile Screen Printing
'Fashion Waste - Its Final Place?'

The ongoing cycle of purchasing, using, and discarding items of clothing has become too much of a common habit that has crucial effects on our society and environment. The increase in fast fashion and the average price of clothing continuously decreasing has both resulted in clothing that is regularly being unworn, washed too often, and rapidly being neglected. “There is an enormous disconnect between increasing clothing consumption and the resultant waste, partially because unworn clothes aren’t immediately thrown out like other disposable products.” (Cline, 2012). Although it’s easy to get tempted by cheap clothing that’s available on the high street or online, it’s easy to overlook the damages fast fashion has. One in three women feel like their clothes are outdated after less than three wears and an estimated £30 billion worth of clothes that have never been worn are hanging in wardrobes across the UK.

With all this excessive waste and unwanted fabric circling the industry, I decided to make a project highlighting the issues of waste within fashion and creating work purely from second-hand materials. My aim is to show that rather than simply throwing away fabrics, they can be given more purposes through recycling, reusing, or amending. There are easy ways of matching sustainability with fashion in unique and modern ways, all while making informed choices for the environment which are elements that I hope people will reflect on when seeing my project.

Project title: Fashion Waste - Its Final Place?

 

My project is about highlighting the issues we face within the fast fashion industry; I’d like to question why we’ve become so used to discarding items of clothing without thinking about the repercussions of it and how we could make little changes in order to make fashion more sustainable. Shopping sustainably is something that’s talked about much more now, however, there are still many people unaware of how much the fast fashion industry damages the environment. With climate change and global warming being a huge and current issue, more people are eager to learn about the ways in which they can change their behaviours to work sustainably through solutions on waste avoidance, waste management, and resource recovery.

 

I’ve used current world issues in my previous projects to motivate me and place my work in the real world. I’ve been to a number of protests before, including Black Lives Matter, to illustrate and document these events. I’ve also taken an interest in using wasted and recycled materials to produce final outcomes that are informative about the amount of waste we produce. I enjoy screenprinting and it’s definitely something I’d like to carry on using within my practice, as well as creating fashion illustrations. With this project, I’m aiming to integrate and build on these areas of interest and strengths that I’ve developed so far within my practice. ‘Fashion Waste - Its Final Place’ relates to visual communication practices including public engagement, fashion, illustration, textiles, and activism, as it includes elements of all these practices combined.

 

My research has included going to events, visiting exhibitions, and reading books (such as ‘Shaping Sustainable Fashion: Changing The Way We Make And Wear Clothes’ and ‘Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion), and researching brands that focus on fashion and sustainability. All of these have been valuable sources that have helped me guide my way through this project in which I’m aiming to influence viewers to reuse, recycle, and restore their fabrics and materials by showing them ways in which it’s possible to do so.

 

I went to various textile events to start thinking about how I could acquire textiles and materials in a sustainable manner that I can use for my work. I considered different people and companies who might be trying to get rid of clothing they don’t need anymore. This included people who have grown out of clothes, don’t like certain styles of clothing anymore, people who are moving and therefore need to get rid of items, and companies who have left-over materials that aren’t of any use because they are scraps or didn’t sell. I was searching through Facebook and luckily found someone who was offering a huge bag of fabrics that she was getting rid of and asked whether someone else might find a better use for the materials. I was surprised to find an incredible amount of fabrics in good condition and still fully useable. This led me to focus my project on one person's waste only as I figured it might have a bigger impact in comparison to collecting materials from all sorts of places. This way my work is more relatable and viewers might start considering how much wasted fabrics they’ve accumulated themselves over time.

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As I was choosing my first fabrics and colours to print with, greens were the initial colours that came to mind. The colour green has clear relations to nature and as a cool colour is also linked to expressing calmness, comfort and being restful (Ballast, 2002; Bellizzi et al., 1983). Recently it appears that natural, earthy tones and the col-our green have been deliberately used as a strategy to encourage the concept of eco-friendliness within a product.

 

I was researching what colours are most popular in clothing and found that the colour blue is the most common colour for casual wear because of jeans. A study found by Crozier in 1999 found that blue was the most widely used and favoured colour for adults, but it was still separated into shades such as dark blue being worn in formal situations and light blue kept for casual wear. Simply put, the shades of a colour also act as a vital element on an audience's perceived values and usage.

 

I tested out greens and blues as my first prints for these screens based on the environmental aspects behind them. On this first fabric, I was experimenting with colour and layers. I found that the colour still changes considerably once its dried in comparison to when the paint is wet, which is definitely something I need to consider more as it has a big impact on the final result. I enjoyed layering the shades of colours over one another, especially as they complement each other well and bring out the detail of the prints.

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With a focus on texture and colour, I selected a new fabric to print with that was thickly woven. The technician advised that because the fabric was so thickly woven it might not be worth printing onto it as I was likely to lose a lot of the detail within the fabric. Woven fabric is a textile that results from weaving two sets of yarn together. Upon close inspection, woven fabric resembles a checkerboard of straight interlacing threads going under and over each other at right angles. Because it’s not a flat surface, no matter how hard you print onto the fabric it’s likely that not all of the detail will be absorbed. I was being persistant though and found the texture extremely appealing so I still wanted to see the results of a print. I decided it would be best if I chose two of my screens that had the biggest halftones on them, in the hope that I’d be able to recognise my print on the fabric.

The halftone dots are used to depict the gradiation from black to white. The more black that’s shown in the image the more dots are in the area, so if the image is grey or white there are equally less dots. The most effective settings to alter are:

•    Frequency - The smaller the number of frequency, the bigger the dots / lines will be

•    Shape - Round / Line - These two are the most common shapes used

•    Angle - This setting doesn’t make a lot of difference on the round shape, but does on lines because it will               change the angle the lines are coming in at.

 

‘Frequency’ and ‘Angle’ are both settings that are most commonly used by screen printers. They allow the dots to go well with the screen that’s being used once you get to the printing stage, and don’t create patterns that look bad or make the image unclear.

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Following on with the blue and green colour palette I experimented with more shades of blues but printed onto white fabric instead. As I was printing onto an off-white fabric I didn’t have to worry as much about whether my paint would change as dramatically compared to printing onto green fabric. However, the ma-terial of the white fabric was different and had a lot more texture to it which is visible in the close-ups. The half-tones still managed to depict most of the detail of each print though. I used all four screens I had and mixed various shades of blue. 

 

The colour blue is also regarded as one of the most environmentally sustainable colours, alongside green. A study conducted by the Universi-ty of Oregon and the University of Cincinnati showed that the colour blue is one that buyers and clients relate to eco-friendliness. After being shown a range of designed logos, participants viewed the blue shades as more environmentally conscious in comparison to colours like red. Surprisingly, they also found that buyers were more critical of the brands using these colours, as there was an expected trust that the retail-er would provide sustainable results based on the portrayal of the logo.

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