Hello and welcome to Fashion & Textiles at Reigate College.
My name is Clairiscia Callanan and I’m the course leader for Fashion & Textiles A Level. I’m looking forward to welcoming you to the Art & Design Department in person at the beginning of the academic year, but in the meantime I’d like you to complete a series of tasks and activities in preparation for the course.
These tasks have all been designed for you to complete independently from home over the coming weeks and months. When we start the course in September, there’ll be the chance to share your work with other Fashion & Textiles students and discuss what you’ve learnt.
All the tasks should be completed by Choices Day on 25 August. Please take your time over them and enjoy working through them.
The tasks will be released here in three phases:
Explore your Subject – 4 May
As a fashion student, it’s important that you keep up to date with current events and have an awareness of what’s happening in the fashion industry today. This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day under some of the most unusual circumstances the world has ever seen. Sustainability is the buzzword in the fashion world today, with lockdown encouraging individuals to consider adopting more eco-friendly practices. Some designers are going one step further by using existing materials or garments and repurposing them to create new clothing. This is something I would like you to consider, not only as a student of fashion but also as a consumer of fashion products.
Remember that fashion is about culture, not celebrity!
“If you’re in fashion then it doesn’t really matter what you do. You’re in it because you love change, you’re in it because you’re curious, you’re in it because you’re looking at things to be different’’ – Zowie Broach
The tasks outlined below will take you through the design development process that most designers undertake when creating a new collection. You will need to understand this for when you’re working through projects on the Fashion & Textiles A Level course.
TASK ONE (Stage One of the Design Development Process)
RESEARCH: I’d like you to research three current fashion designers who are engaging in eco-friendly, sustainable practices, such as using and recycling old materials and fabrics or upcycling existing garments. Here are just a few I found that may be of interest:
Viktor & Rolf Dutch fashion house Viktor & Rolf used fabrics left over from past seasons to create the haute-couture garments in its Autumn Winter 2016 collection, Vagabonds.
Christopher Raeburn Christopher Raeburn is a British fashion designer, known for reworking surplus fabrics (such as old army parachutes) and garments to create menswear, womenswear and accessories.
Isa Beniston LA-based Isa Beniston, founder of Gentle Thrills, is a brand that makes and sells ‘wearable drawings’ or artistic garments made from upcycled cashmere, wool sweaters and scraps. Some of the one-off neon, airbrushed pieces are made from vintage Levi’s jeans.
Vinti Tan and Paul Andrews For their Autumn Winter 2020 collection, the London-based brand featured a padded neon yellow Hi-Viz jacket, upcycled from used Met police coats. Other pieces in the collection were made from vintage sportswear and outerwear that had been deconstructed, sampled and recreated as ‘new’ garments.
E. Tautz With a focus on longevity and clothes that last, this brands does not encourage buying new fashion each season. Their ethos is ‘wear them until they wear out and when they do, fix them’. Once an item can no longer be fixed, it should be recycled.
The 2020 collection at London Fashion Week featured pieces that had been ‘fixed’ by being darned, patched and mended. Pieces were made using textiles recovered from unwanted clothes from clothing recycling banks across the UK.
Alexandra Hartmann Founder of Hôtel, this Danish-French brand transforms discarded sheets, curtains and bedspreads from Parisian hotels into clothes and accessories. Being able to wear old-school Parisian glamour is the peak of chic and glamour.
VIN +OMI With a focus on recycling, their Autumn/Winter 2020 collection featured dresses and coats made from repurposed large vinyl film posters.
Natasha Anio Roop become Instagram famous for their handmade bags that are a blend of ‘Furoshiki bags meets scrunchie’! Their designs show what can come from giving dead stock and vintage fabric a second chance.
Before you undertake Task 2, I would like you to look around your home for any unwanted items of clothing or fabrics. Once you have found them, gather them together and put them in a safe place as these will be used to inspired your designs and create your final outcome.
Task Two (Stage Two of the Design Development Process) INITIAL DESIGNS
For this task I’d like you to develop your own eco-conscious collection inspired by the designers above or ones you’ve researched yourself. You may want to look back through the unwanted garments/fabrics you collected for inspiration or take some of the ideas used by the designers. For example, you may want to make a scrunchie bag, or repair an old pair of jeans with fabric patches; you may consider painting, drawing or using embroidery to create an image personal to you on an old T-shirt or bag, or you may have found some old uniform you wish to redesign through padding. Whatever inspires you, you need to be able to communicate this visually for others to see and understand.
Using figure templates found on the internet (see examples below), I’d like you to design six repurposed or recycled garments inspired by the items you found in your home and designer research.
I hope you enjoyed moving through the first two stages of the Design Development Process and are looking forward to continuing on to the next stages.
You should complete this section of tasks by 1 June.
Get Going – 1 June
Hello and welcome back.
I hope you enjoyed working through the first two tasks. Hopefully you were able to use the findings from your research to help inspire your designs. By completing these tasks you have progressed through the initial stages of the design development process.
Before we start on task three, it’s helpful to review
what we have already done:
Task one – you were asked to research eco-conscious fashion designers and collect old unwanted fabric/garments from home.
Task two – you were asked to complete six designs inspired by your research and the unwanted fabrics/garments you collected together.
We’re now ready to progress to stage three of the Design Development Process – Experimentation
Experimentation and investigation
is such an important part of the creative process for all practitioners. This stage of the design development process
should be undertaken in order to explore the potential uses of different media,
materials and techniques when constructing a final piece.
For task three, I would like you to start thinking about how you are going to make one of your designs and how you are going to use and adapt the unwanted clothes/fabrics in your final piece.
As the focus is on upcycling and giving old garments/fabrics a new life, I would like you to consider what other creative elements you could add to transform your unwanted items into something new and exciting. For example, you might want to dye the fabric a different colour, or print patterns and images onto it. You might want to go a step further and add an element of embroidery or applique. Whatever you decide to do is up to you; it’s your design, your experiments and your creative freedom.
During this stage I would like you to focus on the journey; reflecting
on what you have learnt, rather than worrying too much about the outcomes.
Below are some examples of experiments you could investigate when transforming
your clothes/fabrics ready for the construction of your final piece. It would
be helpful to take photos of what you do and record your thoughts and findings as
Basic Colour Dyeing
Dyeing fabrics using natural ingredients
found in your home
Dyeing is a great way to change and give new life to old, unwanted
fabrics. You may want to consider doing this to some of your collected items
before you use them as part of your final piece.
Natural dyes may work better on some fabrics than others, but experiment and see what happens. The dyes can be made from natural items found in your home like spices and vegetables.
This is a great way to add colour instantly to fabrics and old clothing. You can create a variety of patterns, shapes and colours with the dye. Again, this method may work better on some fabrics than others and will probably be more effective with lighter materials and those that are more absorbent.
You will need:
Shaving foam (not cream)
Liquid watercolor paint, food colouring
Scraper, such as a square piece of cardboard
Shallow baking dish
Cover the bottom of your baking dish with a layer of shaving foam.
Drop colours into the foam and drag your stir stick through to create alternative shapes and patterns.
Gently press your fabric into the foam.
Lift out and scrape off the shaving foam with your scraper.
You should now see your pattern.
You may want to consider printing onto your fabric to
create repeat patterns or singular images.
Printing can be done at home using a simple potato and
For further guidance visit:
Once you have developed basic skills in printing, explore other objects you find around your house to print with. For example the end of a toilet roll can be used to make a repeat circle print or can be squashed, folded, or cut, to create other shapes. Old sponges can be cut into shapes for stamps, or simply used as they are for textured prints.
I hope you enjoy exploring, experimenting and investigating in this phase of the design development process. You should aim to complete this stage by 1 July in order to be ready for the final activity.
Aim High – 1 July
From 1 July
Once you’ve taken part in the College’s first ever Virtual Introductory Day on 30 June, you will be asked to complete a more formal Aim High task (posted here) that it is mandatory for all new students to complete before Choices Day on 25 August.