Short Life

Date: 2011-Ongoing

Principal Investigator (UAL): Prof. Kay Politowicz

Kay Politowicz has become increasingly interested in the potential for design to affect an environmentally damaging ‘fast fashion’ throwaway culture, which is growing in size and speed throughout societies on a global basis.

A particular interest of Kay’s is in the production of material for garments that are designed to last an appropriate amount of time for their intended purpose. In collaboration with designer Sandy MacLennan, she has produced the first of a range of garments demonstrating a ‘Short-Life’ concept (based on material developed in the paper industries for household and medical uses), to complement the exciting developments in longevity, creative repair and quality production of fashion.

An engineered ‘Short-Life ‘ textile, which forms the basis of a virtuous circle of renewal, could satisfy consumption and disposal in the fast stream of cheap fashion and by recognising a throwaway culture it accommodates the need for newness without consumer guilt. ‘ Short-life’ products address increasing raw material shortages by designing a system to ‘recover’ material in a loop of recycling for continuous use, whilst designing out laundry altogether and its associated environmental impact. The collection proposes new industrial alliances between the unrelated industries of fashion fabrics, paper manufacturing and recycling, as part of a closed-loop system of production, disposal and regeneration. Emerging business interests, which are supporting new cellulosic fibre development designed to replace cotton, could be attracted to the development of a new, aesthetic and practical, non-woven product with a cellulosic component, for fashion or work-wear.

Using substrates and processes normally associated with other industrial applications, material costs are kept very low but volumes can be very high. The resulting artefacts add to existing knowledge by adapting industrial technologies to develop a Lyocell based non-woven fabric, with a fibre strength better than paper but with similar attributes, dramatically increasing the environmental credentials and desirable aesthetic fabric qualities.

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