With a social media following exceeding half a million, Slow Factory is dedicated to addressing the climate emergency, focusing on climate justice and human rights crises through cultural change, science and design. Upholding their commitment to “systematic change for collective liberation,” the award-winning nonprofit foundation is launching a new initiative known as “Garment to Garment” to educate fashion talents in creating garments with disassembly in mind, ultimately reducing the fashion industry’s environmental impact.
Scheduled to run from September 2023 to April 2024, the pilot emphasizes circular design principles while nurturing a cohort of five female designers, primarily from regions often overlooked by fashion hubs. These designers will specialize in design for disassembly and upcycling, honing their skills and knowledge in circularity.
The initial group of talent, which includes Indigenous Designer Korina Emmerich, Upcycling Designer Makayla Wray, Upcycling Designer Sarah Nsikak, Upcycling Accessories Designer Tega Akinola and Designer for Disassembly Mahdiyyah, will be based in New York with access to deadstock materials generously contributed by luxury brands such as Chloé, MillerKnoll, Stella McCartney and Gabriela Hearst.
At the core of the pilot is the encouragement for these designers to breathe new life into garment waste, creating valuable pieces while documenting and archiving their work for educational purposes. Besides, the initiative aligns perfectly with Slow Factory’s mission of democratizing education and design, benefiting the 30,000 students currently enrolled in their Open Education program, which provides them with tools of empowerment to share their knowledge “outside the boundaries of institutions and oppressive systems.”
Celine Semaan, the Founder of Slow Factory, shared with WWD: “Every industry, from automotive to tech, has a design for disassembly segment as part of their supply chain, which is focused on taking existing items and upcycling them into new ones. This is what this program aims to create, a new skill training program that is focused on designing for reassembly and disassembly. This is the future of circular systems and economy, a task force using design to transform existing items that usually end up in landfills, to turn waste into new resources and products!”
The Garment to Garment initiative empowers designers from the “Global Majority” (Black, Indigenous and other people of color) to enhance their practices as upcyclers, making significant circular contributions to climate justice and human rights causes. In April, the completed garments will take the spotlight at the Sustainable Fashion Forum in Austin.