By Alicia Williams
Thrive Zero Waste, the thesis collection by Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) designer Claudia Demcak, is a contemporary clothing line that caters to the ethically conscious woman.
Each piece is inspired by a story and brought to life by the process of zero-waste pattern cutting. For Demcak, crafting with care is challenging, but a challenge worth pursuing as she feels it results in beautiful fashion, inside and out.
Thrive Zero Waste will be unveiled at 2016 The Show: The Final Cut, presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 6 and 7 at the Imperial Vancouver (319 Main Street). Thirty-five other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University fashion design and technology students will also be showcased.
Alicia Williams: Why zero waste?
Claudia Demcak: It started when I harnessed my passion for sustainability and, while on an exchange trip in England, chose to write my dissertation paper on the meaningful impact of slow fashion. Since then, I knew I wanted to focus on sustainability for my final collection. I was inspired by blogs, including Zero Waste Home, Trash is for Tossers, Becoming Minimalist, and the local zero waste initiative Pare Down. I was also inspired by zero waste fashion designers Holly McQuillan, Timo Rissanen, Daniel Silverstein and Yeohlee Teng.
AW: What is your creative process?
CD: To initially grasp the concept of zero-waste pattern cutting, I have been doing a self-directed study on zero waste since September. The core of my design process is inspired by Japanese concepts and by nature in general—the way it’s specific and beautiful without being perfect. I begin with sketching from my inspirations, and then take my ideas and work in 3-D on a mannequin. The ideas change drastically when I start draping and sewing up half-scale prototypes. After 3-D, I go back to 2-D: each dimension informs the other and I find that’s the way to get the most beautiful results.
AW: What do the drafting and production processes look like for zero-waste design?
CD: Zero-waste pattern cutting requires a different mindset from traditional drafting. Some see it as restrictive but I see it as an exciting challenge with so much potential, and the end product usually reflects my design aesthetic. I love the look of fabric rectangles strategically cut and assembled together and how every measurement has a purpose. The first thing I do is draw a rough map of the pattern and then draft it with a computer-aided drafting and design program. I draft pieces that need to be properly fitted first and then draft adjustable pieces around the fitted ones.
AW: What are the most valuable lessons you learned during your four years at KPU?
CD: There have been so many imperative lessons, but the most valuable to me is learning to put a lot of care into the craft. KPU has taught me a good work ethic and opened my perspective to so many sectors of fashion design. Now I have a wide variety of technical and design skills that make me feel confident that I can succeed in any sector of the fashion industry.
AW: What are your plans post-graduation?
CD: I am going to travel for a month and a half, and focus on my Etsy shop, oblahk.etsy.com, that I’ve been working on since high school. I named the store for the word “cloud” in my native language, Slovak, because the quality of each product is very soft and the word refers to rainy Vancouver.
I am very passionate about the product range and want to transform the construction of each style to be zero waste. Once I graduate, I hope to work for a fashion company in Vancouver. My biggest dream has always been to become a fashion entrepreneur, but now that dream is to start a zero-waste fashion company within 10 years.