At Offset Warehouse we love seeing the journey our customers go on, from design, to making and beyond. It’s not just about selling fabrics for us. We want to bring about a change in the fashion and textile industries and we know we can really connect and help people on their way to becoming sustainable designers.
Ryan Kirk is no exception. From the first enquiries about our fabrics for a University project, to samples, to designing and then producing his final collection, we’ve watched Ryan develop and grow. He was a finalist in our Eco Designer of the Future 2015 competition and now he’s starting his own business! A few weeks ago, we were delighted to finally meet Ryan at our fabric party. Here’s a little bit of Ryan’s Story, and it’s just the beginning!
My final year BSc (Honours) project within the Fashion Technology course at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels, Scotland was a little different compared to other courses. We had to select a successful topic or a ‘problem’ within the fashion industry to investigate. As I love creative fashion, and I am a creative person, I wanted to select a topic that would allow me to be as creative as possible and graduate with a bang! Also being inspired by unique and fashion-forward fabrics, I started thinking of areas around fabric choices.
I originally focused on waste elements, such as plastics and easily discarded items, and it expanded from there. As the project grew I began looking into the environmental impacts the fashion industry and man-made fibres have. During my research, I was shocked at the things I discovered about water pollution, animal well-being, human health and landfill issues. The list goes on…
For my project, I wanted to focus on landfill issues. The project had two aims: The first, to save elements heading for landfill, and incorporate them into my design. The second, to use natural fabrics, which have significantly less environmental impact as the fibres biodegrade if sent to landfill. I wanted to use as much natural fibres as possible within my collection, however this was not 100% possible with the timeframe and resources available to me.
The plastic waste fabric that I created myself was one of the highlights of my project. The other being the 100% Banana fabric I sourced from Offset Warehouse. I would like to think my project was an innovative fashion-forward sustainable collection.
Why did you want to be an eco designer?
Originally, it wasn’t about begin “eco”, all I wanted was to achieve something different and unique – whether that was the silhouette or fabric. I love seeing innovation within each season’s fashion shows. After reading facts about the industry and devastating environmental disasters, I knew that as a young designer starting out I did not want to become a designer amongst that. Naturally, after carrying out research, my project started focusing on sustainability. The general public don’t see, and probably do not know what goes on behind the scenes and in overseas countries – all they see is the ‘pretty’ clothes on the rails in a shops! Something needs to be done to show them. I must admit, before the research, I had no idea how much impact the fashion industry has on the environment.
Were there any challenges you faced in trying to work ethically?
The lack of resources available! I really wanted to have a 100% all natural collection, however this was not possible due to budgeting and the amount of resources. There’s not a vast amount of 100% natural fabrics available, unless it’s the crisp 100% printed cottons, which is not my aesthetic.
What are your plans now?
I am in the middle of going self-employed and getting a business plan completed. I just want my label, “Ryan Kirk”, to become a mainstream and successful fashion brand. Throughout my education, my aim has been to have my own label – I just didn’t expect it to happen so soon! I am going to be working with a local business soon (more information to follow) and hopefully get a website up and running. I’m also working on promotion to get my label out there.
What advice would you give to other students considering being eco?
It’s hard to say but definitely to do your research and get all the facts. That’s what stood out to me the most. The unknown chemicals within clothing due to dyeing, the quantity of water pollution in overseas countries due to wastewater, the amount of energy, oil and water used to produce synthetic fibres – some facts are pretty disturbing. If some of these facts don’t make you become eco then I don’t know what will. It may not be affecting you or myself, however it definitely is affecting someone elsewhere!