By Connie Ulasewicz
Dr. Ulasewicz engages with students on topics integrating responsible fashion practices within, visual merchandising & promotion, sustainable production development and the social psychology of clothing. Her research interests include, transparency in supply chain management of sewn products manufacturing from fiber to finished product information to the consumer, and product reuse. She is the coauthor of the recently published 2nd edition Sustainable Fashion: Why Now.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with Dr. Charu Gupta, an Associate Professor in the Department of Fabric and Apparel Science, Institute of Home Economics, at the University of Delhi. We were first connected through Anu Pasricha, St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN., regarding Dr. Gupta’s visit to the San Francisco Bay Area and her desire to discuss our similar research interests in the area of textile reuse. Charu is currently working on 'developing dyes from fungus ' and on 'developing fabric using textile waste and water soluble films,' both the projects being funded by Delhi University.
It is her work with water-soluble filaments that grabbed my attention. Basically shredded fiber from post consumer or post manufacturing garments or fabrics, are placed between two frames of water soluble filament, then machine quilted, placed in water to dissolve the filament, resulting in a quilted fabric. This new ‘wasted fabric’ is substituted for embroidery fabric used with the sleeves, collars or bodice area of garments.
I am reminded of the need to connect with others in our field and share the goodness of our collective work. A take away for both of was the challenges of creating a new product from that which has had a previous life. There are inherent limitations of quantity and quantity based on what is available. For example, an order for 500 bags made from discarded tablecloths finally came my way, but my supply is up and a call out to San Francisco Hotel Industry is finding none. So, do I wait for more discarded tablecloths or begin with what I have? In our global industry, there are not yet storage facilities that inventory that which has been discarded, waiting for a new design or reuse or repurpose. We must continue to proclaim the goodness of textiles rather than their waste.