“Recycle is not a sexy word”, states Dana Cohen, an Israeli fashion designer which recently graduated from Shenkar College in Tel Aviv. Cohen (26), winner of 2015 Fini Leitersdorf excellence award for display of creativity and originality in design, is looking for new ways to revive thrown away garments. She manages to do so in an innovative, inspiring collection based on textiles she created by reconstructing second hand knits into beautiful abstract fabrics.
How did you come up with the concept of “Worn Again”?
I was captured by the idea of sustainability while I was living in Amsterdam as part of a student exchange program with AMFI (Amsterdam Fashion Institute). I was looking for ways to create garments from existing materials and wanted to design a collection that would send a positive message. I noticed I have many unused textiles at the studio and that triggered the idea. I wanted to take what people consider as ‘waste’ and bring it back to the realm of fashion. The next step was researching the process of mass production and understanding where I can source materials for the collection.
What triggered you to work with old, thrown away garments?
People perceive recycled products as unattractive or invaluable. I wanted to challenge this perception, giving those garments a “second chance” and promote the idea of reducing textile waste. It was during the recycling process that I suddenly felt that by working with used garments I am able to touch people’s past, and turn it into a future.
The collection consists of different approaches to pattern and shape. What were your primary sources of inspiration?
The stripes and argyle patterns are taken from the more traditional sweaters. I used the symbolic geometric shapes which are associated with old, forgotten garments. But my main inspiration actually came from the process itself. The samples I produced reminded me of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings. I decided that each color combination would “quote” one of his paintings, which let to a rather abstract result.
Which types of materials compose the collection?
The collection combines two textiles; recycled knits that were thrown away, and the knits I designed myself.
I used the old knits to create different industrial materials like isolating material, and incorporated them with the ones I knitted myself into a whole “new textile”. This transformation between the knits is purposely visible, and illustrates the recycling process.
And how did people react to the idea of recycling textiles?
At the beginning everyone were very skeptical about the result. They thought the result probably won’t look good enough for the runway. You know, the word ‘recycle’ isn’t very sexy but it holds an incredible potential. I had a feeling I could make them change their minds, and I am glad I trusted my intuitions.
True, people often perceive waste as devalued, useless. how do you see it?
I see waste as a valid material, so why can’t we treat it just like any other textile? Reducing waste should be something we all thrive to, not just in the fashion industry. Eventually, we all want the world to be a better place to live in, so why not do something about it?
Do you think we could apply this process of “transformation” in large scale commercial production?
This is exactly the challenge I am facing these days. The transformation process is almost impossible in a large scale production, but I am trying to find ways in which recycled textile could be incorporated into mass production for various purposes.
Where do you see fashion going in terms of up cycling and the use of waste?
Fashion brands are definitely becoming more sustainable. Major companies like H&M lead environmental friendly initiatives and there is a global awareness in the industry.
And finally, if you could you choose 5 words to describe the collection…
Original, soft, textured, sustainable, positive