Simply You Style - - Update - space­be­

“Most t-shirts have prob­a­bly trav­elled more than the av­er­age per­son in New Zealand, but we don’t re­ally fac­tor that into our de­ci­sion­mak­ing, or the cost,” says Jen­nifer Whitty, se­nior lec­turer in fash­ion de­sign at Massey Univer­sity, aca­demic re­searcher and co­founder of fash­ion la­bel Space Be­tween.

With Holly Mcquillan, Whitty has cre­ated a brand that pro­vides a plat­form for so­cial change as well as chic de­signs. The duo’s lat­est project, re­cy­cling never-worn clothes into new de­signs will likely be avail­able mid-year via on­line pre-or­der. Whitty says around a third of clothes in stores are never sold and in­cin­er­ated, and around a third of the clothes that are bought are never worn. A pre-or­der ap­proach en­sures less wastage.

Whitty trav­elled to Lon­don last year to give a pre­sen­ta­tion on sus­tain­able fash­ion at Tate Bri­tain in con­junc­tion with an ex­hi­bi­tion and re­search pa­per she was in­volved in at the Chelsea Col­lege of Arts. She is also a men­tor for the Un­school, a New York-based fellowship pro­gramme which fo­cuses on de­signs sup­port­ing sus­tain­abil­ity.

“Cur­rently we don’t pay the true cost for cloth­ing,” says Whitty. “We only ac­count for the cost of tools, build­ings and labour – we don’t fac­tor in what it costs to make a gar­ment in terms of its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment, for ex­am­ple the use of re­new­able and non­re­new­able ma­te­ri­als or the im­pact on peo­ple’s health and com­mu­ni­ties.”

It’s cheaper to ship an item across the globe three times than to make it lo­cally, ac­cord­ing to Whitty, but she be­lieves costs will bal­ance out once more brands con­vert to sus­tain­able prac­tices. Un­til then, she says de­sign­ers are re­spon­si­ble for ed­u­cat­ing con­sumers about why eth­i­cal clothes costs more.

Jen­nifer Whitty, co­founder of Space Be­tween.

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