Molly Sellars, a recent graduate of Fashion Design from the University of Westminster challenges consumer perceptions around buying repurposed products in her final collection ‘Pick of the Tents’. Molly highlights that it is possible to repurpose discarded materials, particularly festival waste into functional garments while highlighting the growing momentum of sustainability in the fashion industry.
Why did you decide you wanted to go into mesnwear design?
Menswear has always felt like a warmer environment to be in within the different segments of the fashion industry. In my own wardrobe, I often lean towards wearing menswear than womenswear clothing. Visually I prefer the shapes, so it simply felt right for me to explore designing menswear.
What was the main inspiration for your graduate collection?
I grew up in the Lake District and I have been influenced by the outdoor clothing people wear to go hiking. A reoccurring inspirational theme for me is developing repurposed clothing that doesn’t appear ‘repurposed’. I think it’s important to challenge consumer perceptions around buying into repurposed products thinking that repurposed somehow means substandard quality. I want to educate consumers on what can be possible using discarded materials.
How easy did you find it to source fabrics for your designs?
After gaining permission from a local festival it was relatively easy, and just a case of partner and I taking the time to collect the left-behind and damaged tents from the festival fields.
What are your favourite parts about being a designer?
The experimentation and trialing stages to designing are the parts I enjoy the most. It’s great to exercise creativity through problem-solving and giving different ideas a go.
What is your least favourite part about being a designer?
The industry pressure for continuous innovation is a gift and a curse. Also, change is notoriously slow in changing attitudes and adjusting hard-wired perceptions. The movement toward favouring slow fashion is difficult but not impossible.
Were there any other limitations you found not having access to the studio?
Yes, tents aren’t the easiest of objects to set up and maneuver, which made unpacking the tent and cutting out my pattern pieces in my small studio living space difficult. At home I don’t have a large table so most of the cutting out was carried out on the floor.
What obstacles have you faced as a graduate in design?
My impatience. But also, ensuring I allow myself the time to set up my own brand, and give myself some room and time to learn as I grow.
Has sustainability influenced any of your designs and why?
Yes, sustainability influences a lot of my designs because it’s a key factor in my choice of materials and ethos. With this in mind, sustainability has been the main story for my entire collection. I used discarded and damaged festival tents and sleeping bags to explore what is possible within a world of functional repurposed clothing and accessories.
What strengths and skills do you think it takes to become a successful designer?
Everyone rightly has their own ways of defining and measuring success, so I can only speak for my own experience. At this moment in time, my most recent success has been graduating from university with a First Class Honours, and creating a final collection that does what I hoped it would. However, I believe more general strengths and skills that can help along the way to creating your own success as a designer include; being detail orientated, conscientious and quietly confident.
Another strength that developed for me personally throughout the final collection process was accepting that it’s ok to not know the answer to everything immediately, and understanding that I learned most during the time it took me to problem solve. Overall I gained strength by taking the pressure off myself, just enjoying the process and looking back I think that was what made my final collection in my opinion more successful. Finally, I think being able to self-reflect and come to those realisations is a skill in itself that will prove useful to any creative.
Your collections intend to create a dialogue. What conversation did you want to spark here?
I want to challenge consumers perceptions of the term ‘used’ by using repurposing to show that any used object that has been repurposed can also be considered new. I aim to question consumers existing buying habits and turn their attention to the mass of exciting designers who are showing what can be done with repurposed fabrics, and celebrate unconventional approaches to design.
Now that you’ve done your final collection, what are your next plans?
Now that my final collection is finished I am in the middle of taking time to make and test out more repurposed products and working towards starting my brand.
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