Skylark, zero waste fashion with a wink to local crafts

 

It is not easy, no. To become an independent fashion designer is a big challenge nowadays. Particularly, when the designer wants to change the future of fashion with zero waste patterns, artisanal pieces and, as a consequence, high prices. But this fashion is the only one that can break the uniforms of the World, those imponed by the low prices of fast fashion. Sheridan Joyce, founder of the sustainable fashion label Skylark, explains us how.

 

After completing her B.A. majoring in Fashion and spend a further year researching zero-waste patterns design and slow fashion principles to complete an Honours qualification, Sheridan Joyce began searching for a internship arrangement that would ideally lead to employment. These were with local labels that weren't necessarily sustainably inclined. After a period of time, she was told she was not qualified to intern (for free) or be employed at a fair pay rate, despite her high qualifications and local/international experience. This was initially pretty disheartening to her, but it pushed her to create her own business start up. The reason why she is so glad that she did this was because it allowed her to continue her research in environmental principles, taking the core points of her research and turning it into what Skylark represents now.

 

“It is imperative that consumers change their way of engaging with fashion. Designers and producers are only half of the problem, without the demand for better quality and more ethical alternatives there will be no change” .

 
 

Skylark, zero waste and craft design

Sheridan Joyce decided to pursue further research focused on zero-waste design practices and slow fashion principles. Two strong conclusions came to her mind: firstly, sustainable design practices are commercially viable within the fashion industry and, secondly, sustainable design practices should become a standard part of design criteria for contemporary design briefs.

Skylark is still a very small emerging label, it’s only been in commercial operation since 2017. Last year, the brand showcased its second Collection at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2017. “I felt very supported within the community. It was quite a landmark moment as it was the first commercially available collection (stocked on Kiyakaya)”. The collection, .Reflektere, was inspired by the vast majesty of Norwegian mountainous landscapes and how they are reflected in the glass-like fjords. This acted as the visual inspiration for the embroidery elements of the collection that were digitally developed, machine embroidered and then worked into by hand with natural fibres such as merino yarn and fibres. The silhouettes and patterns continue on with the minimal/zero-waste ethos that is a core part of Skylark. “I wish I can get to the point where Skylark garments are only produced with natural organic fibres, however currently Skylark combines natural fibres with recycled synthetics that are sourced from local Perth businesses that would otherwise dispose of the fabrics in landfill” – Sheridan says.

 

“I don’t really see sustainability as a difficulty, definitely a challenge but that’s what makes it interesting”. 

 

What is the most difficult thing you find working with eco fabrics and in a sustainable and ethic way? – we ask her: “In regards to zero-waste patterning I believe it is a commercially viable way of minimising the fashion industry’s textile waste production but it does involve approaching design in a way that includes pattern making as a part of the design process, not the next step after the design illustration is finalised. The biggest challenge I am trying to overcome in terms of sustainability is being able to grade zero-waste designs effectively and accurately while maintaining the minimal/zero-waste element. However, this is just a progression of my initial research conducted in a commercial environment”.

Timo Rissanen, Holly McQuillan and Kate Fletcher are some of the persons who inspire the work of Sheridan. “Holly’s Make Use concept is fantastic and I'm really interested in her use of CLO technology at the moment just because there are definite parallels in Skylark’s mode of production, it's the ultimate zero-waste prototyping process”.

 

“This is about both designers and consumers working together to shift away from the fast production and fast consumption mentality by making sustainability a standard part of design criteria to encourage consumers to change how they consume fashion”.

 

Sustainable lifestyle: Australia

Looking into her wardrobe, we find some garments by Leo Strange (Perth-based sustainable label), Yuki Threads and Kowtow. “I really enjoy the aesthetic of Leo Strange and the concept of imparting artisan quality into their clothing. Their fabrics are absolutely beautiful to wear and are so vibrant in colour... Very care-free pieces that would work well with any style. Yuki Threads also have a really contemporary character with the quirky embroidered and printed phrases on their garments. The streetwear aesthetic is very accessible to both women and men, which works well in developing the idea that sustainable clothing can be everyday wear. Kowtow is also a label that I think is changing how consumers understand what is sustainable fashion. They have some beautiful classic silhouettes and knitwear really far away from the ‘hemp sack’ sustainable stereotype. In terms of their brand ethos there is a lot of attention to detail and transparency from their fair-trade certifications and workers right to the recyclable packaging. (I definitely have my eye on some of their new knitwear!)” – she says.

Sheridan is very conscious with her transport related emissions (if you have ever been to Perth the most efficient way to travel around is via car, unfortunately). She tries not to use her hybrid vehicle and happily takes public transportation when she can. She is also conscious with the beauty products she uses in terms of ethics and putting preference on minimal or no packaging lines. “I am trying to adopt a more zero-waste lifestyle, adapting the principles of my brand and aesthetic into all areas of my life”.

 

"Go for purposeful purchases (rather than impulse) that may require some research that can allow you the opportunity to discover sustainable brands. The idea of shopping local instead of going to big fast fashion brands is also key (particularly with local sustainable brands) as this support will allow Brands to growth and improve accessibility.”

 

 
 
 

Sheridan confesses us she is a slow reader but at the moment she is enjoying Safia Minney’s Slow Fashion: “it takes a somewhat abstract concept and makes it extremely relatable to consumers and the industry alike” – she underlines. “As a technical resource, Holly McQuillan and Timo Rissanen’s Zero-Waste Fashion Design is fantastic. Overall I am a huge fan of both in relation to sustainability in the fashion industry and specifically zero-waste pattern design, but the book is a really nice manifestation of their work and the inclusion of other zero-waste patterning adopters that has technical pattern maps and lots of strong visual content combined with theory”- she suggests us.

 

Essencial Sustainable Guide

Sheridan enjoys checking out small vintage shops that she comes across when exploring a new place, whether that is an unfamiliar part of Perth or a holiday destination. There are some good vintage finds in Fremantle and Leederville. Mercado 32 ( https://mercado32.com.au/ ), now located in Maylands. It is a great little boutique that operates under the premise of offering people the ability to change their wardrobe and access designer pieces through recycling and consignment. This idea supports recycling and zero-waste and combe it with a curated collection of designer and vintage. It is an interesting sustainable progression away from fast fashion shops.

 

“Stay true to your values and integrity as a designer. If you feel strongly about sustainable design practices, commit to it as much as you can, whether that be by working within a sustainable brand or starting your own. Definitely try and push the boundaries” – she advices to all sustainable fashion Designers.”