One of the reasons why we are called as civilized and intelligent creature is because we wear clothes, at least in public. However, don’t you know that our clothing industry is one of the dirtiest industries on this planet?
Because of that reason, horticulturalist Lottie Delamain decided to create a fascinating garden in Chelsea Flower Show 2022. The garden mainly featured plants that can contribute to our clothing industry, but in a greener way.
This unique yet makes sense concept of garden is something that we actually need. Our fashion industry has become so dirty nowadays, and introducing something green would help us to change the direction that fashion industry is currently facing onto the right direction.
How innovative is this garden? What kind of contribution that we can get from Delamain’s innovation? Here, in this article we are going to talk about it.
The Dirty Industry
We surely have written a lot of articles talking about how dirty the fashion industry is. One of the examples is when fast fashion is being pushed to the consumer so that the industry can harvest more money from the consumers.
Fast fashion makes us willingly throw away wearable garments just for the sake of getting the new ones to follow the trends. Latest data revealed that we buy more clothing nowadays than the whole history of mankind combined.
And for the sake of that, we throw away old clothes which are still wearable. The data discovered that averagely Americans throw away 68 clothes a year in exchange for similar or greater number of new clothes.
Of course, throwing away wearable clothes is almost as bad as throwing away leftover food. A report entitled “Biodiversity Risks and Opportunities in the Apparel Sector” stated that fashion industry impacts the nature hugely.
The impacts come from many sectors in the industry. In example, cotton production contributes about 22.5% of all insecticide use and dying produces about 20% of industrial water pollutant in the world. That’s why, to change the world into a better state, we also need some changes in this industry too.
Materials for Clothing
Just like we mentioned above, cotton as clothing material contributes a lot of pesticides and consumes a lot of water. From that, we know that materials for clothing is one of the reasons why this industry is said to be dirty.
That’s why, changing this industry starting from its material can be an effective way to start making it greener. A sustainable fashion industry may start from its material consumption, and that’s the point of view of Lottie Delamain in creating the ‘Textile Garden.
Delamain was a fashion designer before converting herself into garden designer. This is the reason why she wanted to combine both to create something that can help this earth in the future. The Textile Garden features only plants that can be used for making clothes.
“The crossover between these two disciplines had always interested me. While trekking in Vietnam I came across families growing the plants to make their clothes and was so inspired by the close proximity between what they grow and what they wear, and how intimately they understood the provenance of their clothes—a far cry from where we are in the west,” the horticulturist explained to TreeHugger.
“It was really inspiring seeing what beautiful things they were creating out of such simple ingredients – they have just two plants, hemp and indigo – and the proximity that they had with what they were wearing,” Delamain said in another interview with Vogue.
Future of Industry of Our Clothes
Various species of plants were featured in Delaimain’s Textile Garden. Nevertheless, there is one particular thing that they have in common: all of them are either producing fiber or dye. Aren’t those the main materials we need to create a clothing?
“The garden was made up entirely of plants that could be used as dye or fiber and designed to look and feel like a textile, with a large-scale textile installation within the garden to illustrate the link between plants and textiles,” Delamain explained.
To show off her determination, Delamain constructed the garden into a piece of art easily comprehensible by everyone. She arranged the plants into appearing like woven fabric by placing distinct color blocks next to one another.
In between the plants, there is a series of paved ‘seams’ to make it appear more clothing-like. According to the designer, it was to “re-establish the connection between plants and textiles, reveal the beauty to be found in plant-based dyes and fibers, and sow a seed of curiosity about what we wear.”
She explained that the future of fashion industry, if we keep it on the right track, must revolve around this very kind of view. More people should realize that fast fashion is bad for the environment, and start to embrace the ones advancing into greener direction.
Planting Your Own Color for Clothes
One of the dirtiest parts of clothing industry is the part where we need to give our garments colors. That’s why, one of the focuses in this project is to ‘plant’ colors for our clothing instead of relying heavily on dangerous chemicals.
Delamain told The Guardian on another interview that at least more people would recognize the unique and surprising colors that certain plants can produce. “Willow makes a lovely pink color, which you wouldn’t expect. Tulips produce a bright green,” she explained.
The process of dyeing with plants is not hard to do, either. “You literally get some leaves, chuck them in a pot, put the T-shirt in and off you go. Some plants are permanent by themselves but for others you add a mordant, which fixes the dye to the clothes,” she told The Guardian.
While the process is easy, dyeing your own clothing with natural colorings can be a fun activity. In addition to that, it would be a safe activity to do with your kids, which will help them learn more about nature in an interesting way.
Therefore, this kind of activity is not only fun for your children, but also educational. “You’ve invested the time to dye your own top, you’ve got a bit of a story about it and it’s so nice. A bit more interesting than just buying something from Zara,” said Delamain.