Finalist 2023

Futurism - Convertible Fashion

Ashley Monroe

Futurism Collection uses convertible fashion to sustainably modify garments, giving the ability to create more outfits with less garments.

The Futurism Collection, created by Ashley Monroe for her RMIT Graduate Collection, shows the fashion styles from a future, realistic utopian society, with advances in technology and environmental consciousness through resourceful design and engineering that is reflected within the society's dress. This collection uses convertible fashion as a futuristic approach to sustainability; it uses adjustable elements to create garments that can be modified, allowing users to create more outfits with less garments. This promotes a ‘need less’ mentality within fashion and works to try and revalue the clothing we choose to own, creating a design focus on quality over quantity.

Design Brief:

Throughout the collection, there is heavy focus on attention to detail and quality technical work. Each element of design is intentional and made functional through pattern making, fabric choice, fit, and notions.

The study of this project surrounded sustainability and creating new possibilities within the realm of sustainable fashion. The development of Convertible clothing works to redefine the meaning of sustainable fashion from ‘old and reused’ to ‘resourceful and repurposed’, demonstrating how sustainability can feel new and exciting despite using pre-existing resources. This collection expands possibilities within sustainable fashion through convertible clothing choices that diminish the amount of clothing necessary for a full wardrobe.

This project was developed by:

  • Ashley Monroe

Design Process

The idea of Convertible clothing began when assessing my personal relationship with fashion and sustainability, I thought about ideas surrounding minimalist lifestyles and a ‘need less’ mentality. Initially, I designed a pair of pants that could double as a jacket with zippers and gather cord that affects the fit of the garment. I created this in a thin nylon with silver hardware referencing camper clothing due to the garments functionality aligning with the ‘GorpCore’ aesthetic. From this I was able to expand the range of convertible garments with differing types and complexity until there was a full range of 12 garments.

These pieces are genderless and use adjustable elements in order to fit a range of bodies, adding to their multifunctionality as an ability to adapt to different body sizes and shapes.

I used Spandex and Nylons throughout the whole collection and a wide array of silver hardware. Keeping in line with the sustainable views of the collection, all fabrics and notions were bought from local small businesses and each piece is made from deadstock fabrics.

Each garment was pattern made and finished to a very high quality keeping consistency throughout fabric and hardware choices. Due to the nature of these pieces and their convertible elements, several rounds of toiling and fitting was necessary to ensure they were functional in each wearable form and met the high visual standards of the collection. Many tests were run with fabrics to ensure that the chosen fabric could be manipulated in the desired way to achieve the look that I was aiming for.

Design Excellence

This collection uses convertible clothing to redefine the idea of what sustainable fashion can be. The engineering of each piece and their ability to convert adds a new perspective of what our clothing can be and how it serves its purpose.

These garments could be functional in many different settings for example, needing to pack less clothes when traveling, adapting to temperature shifts from day to night during festivals, or for the homeless - who have access to very limited clothing.

The adjustable elements that allow users to modify their clothing and wear them in several different ways allows users to create more outfits with less garments. This encourages the audience to rely on the pieces they own instead of accumulating more unnecessary clothing and ultimately contributing to excessive clothing waste.

One of my goals for this project was to introduce convertible clothing to inspire more interest in the sustainable fashion market and create a fashion industry closer to my ideas of a fashion utopia. I believe that this built-in extra functionality within our clothing will make a difference to society's relationship to clothing and open up our ideas of what garments can be: to more than just aesthetics, but clothing that can serve so much more function when proper thought and design is applied.

Design Innovation

Sustainability in the fashion industry is a challenge that people have attempted to remedy time and time again through many different facets, being recycled materials, zero waste patterning and clothing upcycling.

Convertible clothing brings in a new approach to fashion sustainability that has not been largely explored in the past. It promotes a minimalist wardrobe and demonstrates the modularity of clothing. More importantly however, it invites dialogue about what clothing can mean and the ways it can be worn.

Having more than one way to style and wear a piece doubles the garments usefulness and styling ability and in turn, extends the garments lifespan, a large percentage of clothing that is wasted is perfectly fine and wearable but thrown away because it has been worn too much or is ‘out of trend’. Convertible clothing aims to tackle this and demonstrate to users that clothing does not have to be worn the way we are told it has to be. Understanding this can open ideas about all clothing and its intended purpose. Who’s to say that all clothing isn't convertible?

Design Impact

The Futurism Collection has sustainable merit beyond the convertible aspects of the garments, all pieces are made with dead-stock fabrics from Melbourne local business and hardware also from local small business. Most of the pieces are one of one, as not creating excess is one of the staple messages of the collections. Furthermore, many of the offcuts and fabric scraps were shredded and inserted into the linings of some of the garments.

Demonstrations of these convertible pieces in this collection have gained large popularity on social media and have been recognised by Magazines like WSGN and High Snobriety.
While I do not have the current resources to make this a commercial collection, the reach of this collection has already made an impact over social media, being a point of inspiration for other designers to create more convertible fashion and function focus design. Its online reach has begun shifting users' perspectives to demand more from their clothing.

More convertible clothing in the future could bring a shift in the way clothing is designed and what are considered important features of our garments. Small adjustments in the resourcefulness of our garments could extend the life cycles of our clothing and give less reasons to dispose of our clothing quickly - combatting the ubiquitous issue of overconsumption. This could have long-lasting positive effects on not only the environment, but society and our overall understanding of how we use our clothing.

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