The workshops started 8:30 a.m. Friday morning with a meeting in the big auditorium, where we got to learn that our three coordinators for the following weekend came from Germany. Each of them has their own organization, which deals with aspects of sustainability under an umbrella organization called Futur Zwei.
The workshop I participated in was the workshop organised by Lisa D, a famous fashion designer based in Berlin. Besides her clothing line, in 2010 she started a studio named “ ‘Till it’s in Tatters” (German name), which supports sustainability by repairing and up cycling old garments so they can be reused instead of being simply thrown away. The organization encourages recycling and creativity. As a result, it discourages mass production of clothes by giving old clothes a new unique look, rarely found in stores, which sells clothes in bulk with the same pattern. The presentation of her work in the beginning of the workshop made us look forward to what we would do in the following days.
The most interesting thing about the workshop was the chance to get involved in sustainability hands on. Instead of being given lectures, we got to experience sustainability in action and feel involved in the process by designing our own pieces of clothing.
As soon as we got to the room, which was used as our studio for the next days, we started distributing supplies of thread, pins, scissors, put the sewing machines into action, picked the clothes we would like to work on and as simple as that, began working. With the aid of a book giving us 120 ways to up cycle a shirt, we hesitantly began our first work. In the beginning, with each cut of the scissors in a very beautiful t-shirt, I felt guilty, worried, and afraid to ruin the material in my hands. I felt like a first year in medical school performing open-heart surgery on a patient. Everything looked wrong, out of place, weird to my eyes, however I kept on going. With Lisa’s huge aid in sewing, tearing and knotting, my first product was finished. It looked like magic; I did not believe that something like that, something new, so different and so creative could come out from the work of my own hands.
We continued with redesigning our clothes throughout the rest of the day. 2 hours before the finish line for the day, we set up a printing station with materials brought by Lisa, to apply designs to our t-shirts. With the use of a cutter, the shape of the desired print would be cut into the stencil paper. Then the stencil paper was applied on a special printing screen, adding ink on the other side of the screen and applying it to the t-shirt, all of this resulting into a new design for our t-shirts! This method was extremely exploited, and all sorts of designs came out of our hands.
Day 1 ended with an overall discussion about the activities of the day, where we got to share concerns about the raised problems and suggestions for the next day. During the day, we faced some obstacles in our process, such as the old, valuable sewing machines we took time to make work and general problems with the organizing of the work. The workshop especially with Lisa’s aid, turned out well by openly discussing the structure we proposed for the following day. This was the moment I most appreciated Lisa’s dedication to the workshop, as she was very open-minded when listening to our suggestions and what we liked about the workshop. The discussion was generally formed to improve our experience rather than simply finish the weekend. Along with that, I also saw her dedication for the fashion industry and towards sustainability. She was extremely ready to teach us tips and tricks in order to promote her work here and ensure that we understood the methods and were encouraged to take the needed steps.
Day 2 began at 10 a.m. with excitement and scissors in hand. We resumed to working on the outfits we had started yesterday, with now functioning machines, and a set up printing station operated by the students ourselves. We had a lot more vision towards our desired clothes and experience to make it so.
While walking between the studio and the printing room, my eyes would fall on the people operating the sewing machines, and I was constantly amazed by the skill and the crafty hands working the thread on the fabric. Continuing on, I saw the unfinished designs on the table and my colleagues armed with scissors, pins, thread, needles, and a determined and quite angry look when glancing at the pieces of clothing laid out in front of them. The finished designs and all the rest of the clothes we planned to work on were thrown around on the big table, creating a pile of materials and remains of cut fabric that were strewn out across the floor. The atmosphere was utterly amazing.
At 2:30, about one and a half hours before the end of the workshop, we got together to present our finished designs. Going from one person to another, each of us explained the previous significance and the reasoning for the change in the design, encouraged by Lisa’s “Amazing!” and photo taking of every single piece of clothing. In the discussion, we helped each other decide which pieces would be presented in the following fashion show.
Lisa had the idea of us presenting our clothes in front of the whole school, on the patio to the school, as an improvised catwalk. At 3, one hour before the show, we put on our best outfits, did our hair, went up on heels and started to comically strut in the school as a rehearsal before our show. To be honest, as I was looking at people walking down the hallway, it all went black, and I heard sounds of shutters clicking and saw famous figures sitting on chairs all around a lit-up catwalk. The posture and the walk of some of us completely blew my mind, and I could see future models in the making.
After a few issues with the music background and the speaker for the show, which were quickly solved, we got together at the runway to start the show. All hiding behind a big tree, which was our makeshift backstage and changing place, we ecstatically looked at the large audience, wondering why did so many people come to something like this?
No other questions asked, the fashion show started in the excited screams from the audience who cheered for us and our weird makeshift up cycled clothes. The show ended with a walk of all of us in a line on the catwalk, laughing in the spotlight and completely forgetting about our supposed modelling attitude.
The fashion show went flawlessly, and I was amazed to see Lisa tearing up while watching us. I realized the incredible bond between us, which had been created only over the past 2 days. We had the chance to work with an amazing professional who knew what we wanted, knew how to keep us engaged and knew how to promote sustainability efficiently. Not only relating it to our interests and the mission of our school. We ecstatically waited for the next thing we would learn, skipping over breaks (no breaks allowed in the business) just to get back to making our clothes. Besides up cycling our clothes, we learned lifelong skills such as sewing (both manually and machine sewing) and pursued creativity. Out of the ordinary ideas, we learnt about sustainability in various aspects and how to truly appreciate uniqueness and move past mass consumerism, especially in the fashion industry.
The efforts done by all the staff, the coordinators and the students helped create an amazing sustainability weekend preceded by a trip to Jerusalem and the Dead Sea providing the students with the first Project Week experience which will hopefully be the beginning of many more.
Written by: Maria Tirnovanu
Edited by: Eng Sou Ea
Copy edited by: Emily Perotti