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TESLIN
DOUD

CFDA Fellow


Why did you decide to become a Fashion Designer?
My mother taught me to sew when I was 7 years old, after which my fascination with craft only continued to deepen. Growing up I spent all of my money and free time creating bikinis, garments and quilts, so when it came time to apply to school it seemed to only make sense to pursue a career in fashion design.

How would you describe your aesthetic as a Fashion Designer?
My aesthetic as a designer is all about sustainability and craft. I love the art of creating textiles and clothes so my aesthetic tends to celebrate the human hand and frame fashion as heirloom. My work is also saturated in sustainable thinking. I am fascinated by sustainable systems so my work with craft tends to be executed with a multifaceted approach to sustainable design.

What attracted you to the EF Brand?
I grew up knowing of EF as all the clothes in my mom's, my aunt's and my grandma's closets that I'd like to steal. I have always been attracted to the easy and comfortable garments, as wearability is important within my own work, and simple silhouettes are an important accompaniment to my handmade textiles. And of course, once I learned about the company's intense dedication to sustainability I was completely smitten.

Tell us about the project you are working on here with the two other CFDA winners?
About half of the garments that come back through Green Eileen are considered too damaged to sell in their current state. We were tasked with coming up with a beautiful and scalable upcycling solution for all of these garments. Each of us has very different approaches to design and sustainability, so as a trio we are balancing each other's strengths and weaknesses to push towards an innovative solution that showcases craft, scalability and systems thinking. 

Was sustainable design something that you were interested in before coming to EF?
I grew up in a very liberal, hippie town in California where environmental consciousness was the norm. I knew going into school that if I was going to work in the fashion industry, it was going to be focusing on sustainability. Throughout school I did a lot of research to figure out what "sustainable fashion" meant, and what it could be. Working at EF right out of school, especially on a sustainable design project, is the best thing I could have ever imagined. I am so thankful to be furthering my sustainable education by learning how a company of this size can implement sustainable practices while still remaining profitable and growing. It is an inspiring experience to realize that a sustainable future for the fashion industry is possible.

How did you select the materials you used?
For our project we are coming up with solutions for all the different materials (linen, cotton, wool, silk, viscose etc.). As we started examining all the damages and experimenting with the garments we quickly discovered that there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Each fiber, and even in some instances each material (knits vs. wovens) requires different approaches for upcycling. As we continue to experiment with upcycling techniques we are choosing a few of each material to play with in the hopes of creating a sort of library of techniques to tackle all materials. 

Were the materials difficult to work with?
Some materials are more difficult to work with, and even some styles within the fiber categories are more difficult to work with than others. For instance, white and light colored silk tanks can be easily naturally dyed to cover stains, but the black tanks and silk pants and odd silhouettes are not suited for natural dyeing. This project is quite a challenge because the damages are variable. As we experiment we are trying to find systematic ways to deal with the difficulties we are finding in the variability.

What's next for you?
It has always been difficult for me to decide on the path for my career. As a naturally creative person, I will always need some form of an artistic outlet. I very much enjoy the natural dyeing and weaving that I explore in my work, however while there is a market for heirloom fashion, it does not impact systemic change in the fashion industry at the level I hope to. Working in a corporate setting allows for change within the mass market of fashion, but in that setting I have no desire to work as a fashion designer; I am much more interested in how clothes are made, where they're made, and what they're made out of than what the design of the garment actually is. So, what's next for me? Whatever it is, it will be continuing to work towards a more sustainable fashion future.


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CARMEN
GAMA

CFDA Fellow

 
Why did you decide to become a Fashion Designer?
I grew up in a house where art and fashion were fostered. My father was a shoe designer and a shoe factory owner and my mother designed and sewed her own clothes. Both taught me at an early age how to sew, make simple patterns and encourage my own design voice. That was the beginning of my passion for designing clothes.

How would you describe your aesthetic as a Fashion Designer?
I have a passion for Urban Outerwear and I believe that design should be functional durable and sustainable.

What attracted you to the EF Brand?
Eileen Fisher's values and Vision2020. Upon graduation I knew I wanted to work for a company whose values where align with mine and EF does. Also, I wanted to learn more about Vision2020 and even better I wanted to be part of this goal.

Tell us about the project you are working on here with the two other CFDA winners?
We are working collaboratively to create a closed loop system for the "unsellable" Green Eileen garments. Our main focus is to extend the garment's life by implementing a system that will, on an Artisanal Production scale, keep the most value of the garments. 

Was sustainable design something that you were interested in before coming to EF?
Yes. While in school, I became aware of the flaws of the fashion industry. From then on I have been challenging myself to design clothes that have sustainable and social value.

How did you select the materials you used?
The materials we are using for this project are the "unsellable" Green Eileen garments. There is variety of fibers and styles, but on the same hand there is a lot of repetition on materials and styles making it easier for us to create a menu of solutions. 

Were the materials difficult to work with?
Currently, we are experimenting with different garments and fabrics because we have discovered that each fiber damages in different ways. For example, wool gets holes and it unravels, linen gets faded and tends to look worn out with age, silk and cotton get stained and viscose gets stretched out. Our biggest challenge is the miscellaneous clothing; items that are dated, embellished, or have a lot of seaming.

What's next for you?
This fellowship has enriched and strengthen my commitment to ethical and sustainable design. Therefore, my next step will be to continue on the path of designing clothes that have sustainable and social value.

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LUCY
JONES

CFDA Fellow

 
Why did you decide to become a Fashion Designer?
I've always been fascinated by fashion. Everyone wears clothes, whether you are someone who is interested in fashion or not. Getting dressed is part of everyone's day. Clothing embodies culture, age, gender, sex, identity, persona, religion, profession and so on and I find fashion design so intriguing for these reasons.

How would you describe your aesthetic as a Fashion Designer?
For me style and function must go hand in hand. Both should work together holistically to inform a design decision. My palette is often clean, crisp, tailored and I work in modular components to allow the wearer freedom for customization and ease of dressing. I am primarily focused on design for those with uncompromising disabilities and problem solving the solutions to make dressing, comfort and overall aesthetic easier for day-to-day living. That and making clothes easier for those who assist in dressing an individual. I really do believe in universal design.

What attracted you to the EF Brand?
Firstly I do think my aesthetic is very similar. I truly love how one collection really can be inclusive with an importance on how clothes can move on the body and with the body, without focusing on one body type which is very difficult to do. Also in offering many different ways to wear a garment! Simplicity is a trend and factor focused on by many fashion houses, but inclusivity is often not considered; Eileen Fisher incorporates both. Secondly, I adore EF's ethos and values. The EF Vision 2020 is a huge step for a company of this size, and the measures that are being implemented within different departments to reach this goal are truly eye-opening. It indicates that other brands can follow suit, with EF paving the way. I love that EF is always willing to share and encourage and also in supporting women's initiatives.

Tell us about the project you are working on here with the two other CFDA winners?
We were given the task to deliver a scalable, responsible, sustainable and profitable solution for the damaged Green Eileen garments which are otherwise known as "Chop". In this world of design, no one garment is the same due to the damages that give the garment its own identity. This makes our task very challenging yet exciting to work within this framework and come up with creative and scalable solutions. Truly we are so lucky to have this project.

Was sustainable design something that you were interested in before coming to EF?
Before coming to EF my focus was more on the "social innovation" side of design. When I was working during school I put all my effort into the research surrounding individuals who have difficulty dressing independently and also those who wish to be more comfortable whilst using a wheelchair or sitting for prolonged hours of the day. My practice was called "seated design" and it took into account all of these factors, of fit, comfort, how there is often a social stigma associated with disabilities and a lack of options in the fashion industry and so on. The other tier I didn't quite get to explore as thoroughly as I wanted was sustainability and it is something I have always been interested in but never directly engaged with. I feel so lucky that I have been granted this opportunity to learn from a company that is making waves in the fashion industry. Since my arrival at EF my knowledge has grown tremendously and I really do feel that wherever my career takes me I will be able to make more conscious decisions and offer more educated responses thanks to this residency.

How did you select the materials you used?
The materials are basically all the garments that cannot currently be sold "as is". Approximately half of customer returns fall under this category. So we have a wealth of material to work with! We started by observing similarities between fabrics and styles. For example KO, TK and GC, and so we started implementing a design system with those that is repeatable and potentially scalable because we know that the inventory will be consistent for these styles. We are continuing to identify more commonalities. However we have a menu of options for those that don't fall into these "repeatable" categories.

Were the materials difficult to work with?
We made many assumptions before actually getting our feet wet, so a few of our predictions ended up not working as well as we thought. Whilst others ended up working out better than expected. It's been quite a challenge. It's not always the material that's difficult but the silhouette. Some styles have many seams and these can be difficult to take apart it also means less fabric to work with.

What's next for you?
I hope to take my knowledge gained at EF forward into whatever I do. After my residency I will be working with a non-profit charity called Runway of Dreams to assist in adapting and modifying mainstream clothing to broaden options and choices for individuals with disabilities but also to raise awareness for inclusivity in the industry.