Contributor: Lina E. Fedirko
Creative Discipline: Ecological Consulting / Fashion Design
Location: NYC, NY
s m a r t d e s i g n. Who sets the trends within the design industry? Instantaneously you might be screaming a few well known names at your computer screen, but think again. Design, Fabrication, Transportation; everything has an effect on the design process and organicMobb has found an individual that is willing to put it all on the line and flip the way 99% of this industry does business.
The late architect and furniture designer Jean Prouve was quoted for having once said, ” never design anything that cannot be made — “. Invaluable to Prouve was the idea of material practice and the life of an object within the context of the real world. Lina Fedirko has a few things to say about the current design and production processes within today’s fashion industry. The implementation of total design thinking; creatively designing the entire life of a product encompassing all areas associated with it’s being is no longer only reserved for the companies on top such as Apple. A new generation of designer is here and Lina Fedirko is leading the march toward ecologically conscious design. organicMobb catches up with Ms. Fedirko for coffee and a chat about where the fashion industry falls short.
[ Seamless Aim collection, look five + neckpiece from look four ]
O M : How did you get into fashion?
L F : I’ve always wanted to go into fashion. My grandmother was a seamstress and I’ve always known how to sew. Naturally, it was my biggest dream to goto fashion school and to become a fashion designer. Originally from Ukraine, I moved to Chicago 10 years ago. After moving to the U.S.- that’s when all the opportunities opened up for me. In Ukraine you don’t have the choice to goto fashion school and become a designer– it’s just not realistic. I wanted to be in New York so I applied to Pratt Institute and Parsons. I got into Pratt, picked up and moved to Brooklyn.
At first I really enjoyed studying fashion– and then some point sophomore year I began interning for different companies and actually started to resent the fashion industry for how superficial and wasteful it was. I have always been conscious of our environmental resources- so for me it was a big no-no to see something I had admired so much be executed in such a wasteful manner. It was then that I began thinking about how I could combine my two passions- one being fashion and the other being ecology. It was great timing for me to have these two interests of mine meet. It was only in the past handful of years that the design industry has fully became conscious of sustainable possibilities. Also it became clear in the fashion industry to me that it was possible to alter the wasteful production cycle that everyone has become accustomed to. So I began working with the Center for Sustainable Design Studies at Pratt and finding out about all of the alternative resources available to designers.
O M : In what way do you see the Fashion Industry being most wasteful? What is the industry doing wrong?
A lot of the energy is wasted in the transportation of goods. For instance cotton is grown in India and then sent back to Turkey to be woven into fabric- and then back to China- and then back to the U.S. to then only be redistributed in Europe and South America. This is where a lot of the energy goes, the transportation. Then you have other factors such as how a material is made. Conventional cotton and how it is grown consumes a lot of fresh water and the way other materials are processed and dyed is horrible for the earth. The dye is extremely toxic and hazardous, not to mention the worker exploitation in China — etc. etc. etc. There is a lot of waste going on in the industry–
I started finding out more and more about these issues and I realized that I did not want to graduate from Pratt and then go get a job in the fashion industry and become part of the problem, and goto work everyday thinking, ‘ Wow! I’m not making the world a better place, I’m not even close; and as a matter of fact I’m making it worse!’ During my junior year I thought I wanted to do some form of consulting. I wanted to learn more about sustainability in fashion and about the production cycle. I was eager to understand what I needed to know so that I could go and help other designers.
For senior thesis, every fashion design student is required to create a fashion collection. Now by this point I knew that I didn’t wish to be a fashion designer– but still I was required to produce a collection in order to get my degree. When it came time to design I sat down and made a completely sustainable collection with naturally manufactured fabrics and embellished with reused-vintage clock parts. The collection was very methodical in that it was not only a collection I designed, but it was a reflection of myself. This collection [ Seamless Aim ] represented everything I believe in, everything that inspires me and everything that I was hoping for in my future.
I received great reviews for my thesis collection and was featured on several websites including: ecouterre.com, examiner.com and brooklynpaper.com. My collection won the Alfredo Cabrera Sportswear Award for women’s sportswear and I will be featured in an editorial with a prominent design magazine and an up and coming documentary. Overall my collection was a huge success and I am extremely happy with the response. People were asking me if I was going to continue to design, perceiving me as a rising designer– This was my own masterpiece but designing is not my priority. The priority of my collection is to inspire sustainable design practice.
[ look one, image + garment tag ]
[ look two, image + garment tag ]
[ look three, image + garment tag ]
[ look four, image + garment tag ]
[ look five, image + garment tag ] *note the efficiency in material construction via each garment tag
The Seamless Aim collection is part of my larger project, Single Aim which is my effort to bring sustainability into the design world, particularly the fashion world. It started with reading books on sustainability to understand how it works within not only fashion but all business practices. What interests me is the linking of the business, design and production aspects within fashion and any creative business model.
O M : You’ve now moved out of Brooklyn and live in the Lower Eastside and are attending The New School. How will this work further your Single Aim Project?
L F: Well right now I’m in the Lower Eastside as you mentioned, and I’m getting ready to goto graduate school in the fall at Newschool University where I will be earning my Masters of Science in Urban Policy Analysis and Management with a concentration in Sustainable Management. This will equip me with analytical skills to go into a community or business and help them integrate sustainability into their business model. My main goal after completing my masters will be to combine my undergraduate and graduate skillsets and go into the fashion industry and consult large fashion corporations on how to integrate sustainability not only into their business structure but into their entire production processes. With my fashion background, I am very familiar with how things operate on a hands-on level, and I think I will be sucessful in doing that!
O M : It sounds like in the future you still wish to have fashion come back into your work as a sustainable consultant. How do you see these two skillsets working in tandem?
L F: My main goal is to consult but also to teach. I don’t think I want to design, but I would like to have designers come to me so that together we can create something that is very logical and sustainable. Having said that– I was contacted by a woman who is starting a website that is going to sell eco-luxury products, art and clothing, she wishes to represent me and my work. I told her that I am not mass producing my collection– I have slightly different future goals. I went on to tell her that If customers would like to have items made for them on an order to order basis then I can do it. The site will be launched in Fall of 2010 and it will have all five looks from my thesis collection. I am hoping that as orders come in I will be able to elaborate on the collection a bit more. So, I guess I am staying in the design world. As of right now it is reserved as my hobby. Graduate school is my primary focus right now. Design will always be with me, but for right now it’s just a hobby and perhaps a way to make some extra cash [ laughs ]
O M : Is there a single person you can think of that inspires your work and your drive?
[ peter ingwerson, courtesy dcdr.dk]
L F : There’s a designer Peter Ingwerson, he started a label called Noir / Illuminati in Denmark. His line is a high luxury eco-collection in which he fostered a partnership with a village in Uganda. He provided this village with all the tools and training needed to grow organic cotton. So he set up this mutual partnership where they grow the cotton for him and he compensates the workers all on a fair wage. He then sends the raw material to Turkey where it is woven for him. The fact that he is able to create jobs for people all the while pioneering a new ecologically responsible industry is amazing.These types of partnerships are possible and any designer can do it. In long term it is absolutely profitable and will help push the fashion industry forward– if I could somehow promote these kinds of partnerships, it would be amazing.
organicMobb thanks Lina Fedirko for this interview and being a steadfast individual. For more of Ms. Fedirko’s work please visit: singleaim.net