MADELEINE HEATH - Designer and Textile Artist
As a designer, I am convinced of fashion’s ability to drive change, and seek to push boundaries in order to generate new behaviours among designers and consumers. In my design practice I have investigated whether sustainable fashion is achievable in light of society's consumer-driven culture. Over the course of that investigation, I have gained a knowledge of the history of consumerism that has led to rapid consumption becoming crucial to our well-being. My work approaches the current issue of consumerism by aiming to reconnect people with their material possessions, by encouraging individuals to use their clothing and textiles as a means of expression.
I graduated with a first-class honours degree in Fashion Design from Falmouth University in the summer of 2017. It was during my final year that I really came into my own as a designer, as it was during this time that I came to understand my values and aesthetic; it was also during this period that I honed a number of skills, to which I had been introduced during the course of the BA. Through my BA graduate collection, I explored the sustainable approaches that can be integrated into fashion design: hand producing garments, sourcing sustainable fabrics and utilising one-piece pattern cutting to minimise waste. This resulted in a highly considered and well-produced capsule collection entitled Borrow Boro. Borrow Boro is a completely sustainable collection that aims to achieve a balance between comfort and aesthetics, to create garments that fulfill the desired effect we seek from our clothing. A number of Japanese thoughts and traditions were explored in the development of Borrow Boro such as ma, the understanding of the importance of space between the body and the garment, as well as Boro and Kintsugi, ancient traditions that facilitate a sustainable approach. Creating a capsule collection that sought inspiration from the past to present clothing for the future.
I have been interested in sustainable design since 2013, when the Rana Plaza collapse brought my attention to the ugly reality of the fashion and textile industry, thus driving my desire to bring about change. I have come to understand that one of the major challenges facing sustainable design is society’s consumer mindset, as it is consumer demand that drives the industry’s high turnover. While designers and scientists can introduce sustainable solutions, there needs to be consumer desire and drive in order for sustainable practices to succeed. After completing my undergraduate degree, I came to realise that my particular interest as a designer lies in the individual’s relationship with textiles and clothing, and in the ways in which this relationship can be manipulated for the sake of a better design future. I believe the consumer is at the heart of our industry: they are the intended user and the predominant benefactor of our industry. So by altering the approach to material overconsumption, we can begin to guide the industry in a more considered direction.
In 2018 I graduated with distinction from an MA in Textile Design at The University of the Arts, Chelsea College, specialising in sustainability as my field of research and knit as my design practice. During my MA, I was once again enabled to approach design from an artistic and conceptual standpoint. In particular, I came to recognise that the future for successful sustainable design is to approach it from the perspective of Stuart Walker’s Quadruple Bottom Line, which proposes to integrate individuality and meaning as a fundamental element in sustainable design. During my initial MA research, I found that textiles have historically been utilised – both culturally and politically – as a means of expression, by communicating information of social or persoaln significance. My MA practice investigated how to develop textiles to once again become a form of active expression.
Within our present society we witness a detachment from our textile possessions, as with ever-changing trends and pressure from society, clothing is now predominantly used to conform to social expectations. Thus, our textile possessions have lost the ability to develop personal significance. My practice aims to understand how the use of our textile possessions to communicate meaning can tackle the biggest challenge sustainability faces: consumer mindsets. Through my MA I developed contemporary examples of textiles as a means of communication that – alongside theoretical research – I believe can provide solutions to the issue of consumer awareness, by understanding how to rebuild a connection with our material possessions.
2018 - 2019
University of the Arts London, Chelsea College - MA Textile Design - Distinction
2014 - 2017
Falmouth University - BA Fashion Design - 1st class honours degree
Chelsea Degree Show
Graduate Fashion Week
Falmouth University Graduate Exhibition
Cocoa and Jasmine Magazine