Thursday, April 21, 2011

Titania Inglis

So frequently we hear about the influences or muse behind designers. But not too often do we hear ‘zero waste’ on their list of inspirations.New York based designer Titania Inglis seems to be saying just that. Of course she is still inspired by the usual suspects of visual and musical culture but she is deeply motivated to create the perfect minimum waste garment.

Why fashion?
I started at design school planning to do graphic design but it was the tangible aspects that drew me to fashion; the feel of different fabrics, the satisfaction in creating a row of precise stitches, the magic of going from a vague idea in your head to a physical creation that you can wear every day. I also love fashion as communication, how people choose to portray themselves to the world through clothes. I keep my own wardrobe tightly edited but within that there’s a lot of room for play. I can be ladylike and vintage-inspired one day, deconstructed and super-modern the next.

Can you tell us more about your minimal waste design process?
For my Spring/Summer 2011 collection, the Almost Zero collection, I took two approaches to zero waste. One was to use bias cuts. Because woven fabric stretches on the diagonal, known as the bias, I turned the fabric diagonally and was able to make garments out of triangles and rectangles without leaving much in the way of scrap. The other approach was to use 3-D origami folding, taking an entire rectangle of fabric and pinning and draping it onto the form to create geometric shapes

Why sustainability?
I grew up in a hippie town and have been a lifelong environmentalist. There’s a lot of room for improvement within the fashion industry. If I can do my tiny part to advance sustainable practices by showing the world that a line can be both thoughtfully produced and beautifully designed, it’ll have been more than worth my time.

Why is this all important to you?
One reason I love making clothes is that they’re universal; virtually everyone wears clothes every day. That being said, the worldwide garment industry is huge and has a correspondingly huge impact on the world’s environment. For example, the blue-dyed rivers in China are a result of terrible industry practices and it doesn’t have to be that way. The world is so overflowing with stuff right now, with cast-off products of our society, that I was a bit reluctant to start a business creating products at all. But in the end I realized that it was possible to run my business in such a way that does good rather than harm. So I choose to support fabric mills that make organic fabrics and I choose to support craftsmanship by hiring skilled craftspeople, sewers and cutters and pattern graders, to create my clothes.

Does this sustainable concept flow into your daily life?
If anything, it’s that my daily life flows into my design. I try to waste as little as possible in life as well as in design. I recycle religiously, including my fabric scraps; I compost, I ride my bike almost everywhere, I turn off lights and computers, and I try to eat locally grown food whenever possible.

What else inspired your most recent collection?
For Fall/Winter 2011, the mood was inspired by the Lykke Li and xx albums I listened to while designing it. The color palette came from the gloriously mossy colors I saw on a trip to Iceland this winter.

To create the silhouettes, I delved deeper into minimalism, playing with cutting away and paring back: I literally cut out the back of last fall’s Wrap Jacket to make the new Cutaway Jacket, and then echoed that silhouette in the Arc Skirt. The Swing Top was my first attempt to drape a top in one piece and then I riffed on that to create the Slash Back Top and the Shift Dress.

You have a very keen eye for unusual construction. What inspires you to create these shapes?
Because I use mostly organic fabrics I’m forced to start my designs with new fabrics each season as there’s so little out there to choose from. I spend a great deal of my time searching for new, beautiful, and sustainably produced fabrics to put into the collection. The few fabrics I fall in love with become the basis for the new collection.

Growing up as an architect’s daughter, I learned a lot from my dad about experimenting with materials to create new forms. I believe in using the properties of the material to push the boundaries of what it can do, rather than forcing things to be what they’re not. So for example, my circle skirt and circle dress from FW10 came from playing with shapes I could create with a single piece of fabric. Using heavier fabrics, I also made the origami bustle skirts from SS11 and the funnel skirt from FW11 from a single pattern piece; while the bias tees from SS11 were an attempt to take a very 1930s technique and turn it to a more contemporary purpose, the archetypal T-shirt.

Whats next?
Even though it bears my name, I started this line partly as a platform to collaborate with some of the talented people around me. As the line grows and develops, I’m planning to branch out next season into working with more of Brooklyn’s incredible creative types, including natural dyers, accessory designers, and set designers.

Check out Titanias blog it has some great info about what’s going on in the world, in Brooklyn and all of her inspiration.

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