When thinking of Skylark, expect the unexpected. Beyond its ethereal, feminine quality, is an Australian brand whose identity is solidly rooted in zero-waste design. The brainchild of Perth-based fashion designer Sheridan Joyce, Skylark the label perfectly embodies zero-waste fashion in a contemporary context.
“I always wanted to challenge myself and get away from the norm,” Sheridan Joyce explains. “Even with my undergraduate projects I found zero-waste design the most rewarding in terms of meaning and concept.” Her honours research focussed on zero waste pattern designing, slow fashion techniques and traditional crafting adapted to suit the modern fashion environment.
The result of her honours degree? The ‘REFLEKTER’ zero-waste fashion collection (refleckter is a Norwegian word meaning reflection) which pays tribute to the designer’s Norwegian heritage. The soft colour palette has a distinct watercolour effect and the source material of breathtaking Norwegian landscapes and mountain ranges is reflected in the collection.
“It is a beautiful rich culture,” Sheridan enthuses,”but it also has a really modern aesthetic that lends itself nicely to conscious design and sustainability which worked out really well for me as it wasn’t forced and weaved in well with my personal design values and ideology.”
Instead of hand embroidery, Sheridan used an industrial machine which allowed for more accurate stitching, as the elements of 100% wool fibre and yarn is braided and layered together giving it a textured motif and allowing it to stay true to the landscape subject matter.
While it would have been ‘slow fashion’ to use hand embroidery, Sheridan purposely chose to use a machine. “It wasn’t from the mindset of producing it faster but more from the mindset of being able to recreate the embroidery that had such precision and a quality about it that would be hard to achieve by hand, but still making it accessible and relevant to a modern fashion context.” Had she decided on hand embroidery, Sheridan says, it would also have affected the price tag as hand stitching is time consuming and thus more costly.
~ an oldy but a goody ~ a behind the scenes shot of the hand work that goes into the fully embroidered (machine and hand) .VEIVISER. Top available @kiyakaya_ . it is easily the most intricate piece from the .REFLEKTERE. Collection but I am in love with the landscape embroidery and how it sings on the hand-painted silk. #skylark #reflektere #kiyakaya #consciousdesign #sustainablefashion #slowfashion #zwd #zerowaste #localproduction #nordicinspiration #handcraft #machinecraft #embroidery #wool #silk #perthfashion #fashion #perthcreatives #wadesigner #dreamspace #happyweekend #shoplocal #buylesschoosewell #artisan #treatyourself #watchthisspace #moretocome
Since graduating from Curtin University in 2015, Sheridan has continued her interest in zero-waste design. She was accepted into the Kiyakaya three-year graduate program – an incubator-like environment that helps emerging designers become more established. Now in her second year of the program, Sheridan is now well-versed in the use of a 3D body scanner (which she had learned to use in her first year); a technology which plays a crucial role in her zero-waste design process.
How 3D technology assists in the zero-waste design process
When a client wants a custom-made garment made, Sheridan invites them to Kiyakaya’s Perth studio to get a 3D body scan. The scan takes the client’s exact body measurements which is then used to create a digital mannequin or avatar. With this avatar, Sheridan then prototypes it using a 3D simulation software. Because accurate data is provided, the designer can actually see how the garment is going to fall on the client before any fabric is cut.
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The 3D precision technology makes made-to-order garments more accessible as it takes accurate measurements quickly – 43 data points versus the three-point standard measurement of bust, hips, waist. Its efficiency also means that costs to the client are kept at a minimum as there is no need for multiple fittings. And because the pattern produced is made to the client’s individual sizing, it also keeps fabric waste to a minimum. This is the very essence of zero-waste design.
“The process makes it so easy to communicate with a client,” says Sheridan. “I just send them an email with their digital prototype attached and they can see for themselves where the neckline’s going to fall, how long the hemline is, what the fit is, whether it’s voluminous or snug on the body. This then provides them with the opportunity to make changes to the silhouette before any fabric is cut.”
The process also incorporates the concept of co-design, as the client and designer form a relationship that is highly transparent. “The client learns who designs it, pattern makes it, sews it.” Almost all of Skylark’s clients are based in Perth because the body-scanning machine consults can only be completed from the Kiyakaya studio.
~ flatlay fun ~ ? ?? today while product shooting, can't wait to share #kiyakaya with you all soon! Pictured .VEIVISER. Top and .GLASS. Skirt by SKYLARK Cooper Mule Heel by @rubi_anz #skylark #thecube #reflektere #consciousdesign #perthcreatives #inspired #fashion #perthfashion #wadesigner #nordicinspiration #dreamspace #sustainablefashion #zerowaste #slowfashion #localproduction #perthstyle #instastyle #instafashion #comingsoon #watchthisspace
Although Sheridan is a zero-waste designer she does offer a ready-to-wear collection in addition to her bespoke custom-made service. She admits that not all clients who reach out want to design a zero-waste garment but she still finds a way to incorporate zero-waste principles regardless.
“Any fabric scraps left over are saved to use in one-off artisanal pieces. It’s not a perfect answer of course, and I wish that everyone who got in touch with me was after the zero-waste aspect of design, but when it comes to ready-to-wear, it’s still pretty minimal waste.”
The designer acknowledges that 100% zero-waste is near impossible – in her own label and in the broader fashion industry. “There is no perfect answer with sustainable fashion but as long as there is a discussion and a consideration of impact when it comes to producing fashion, then that’s a good start.”
Sheridan firmly believes that sustainable design should be a part of standard design criteria for the fashion industry. “Hopefully we get to the point where we’re not differentiating ‘Eco Fashion Week Australia’ with Fashion Week Australia,” says Sheridan.
“So while there may be a competitive difference, it shouldn’t be completely outlandish to have it all together as it should just be the conventional way we design and consume fashion. I’m being idealistic but I hope [zero-waste] takes off and becomes the future of fashion. Everyone we talk to about this process feels positive about it and that’s a great sign.”
If the signs are correct and zero-waste design does become the future of fashion, Sheridan Joyce has her work cut out for her.
The designer will showcase at Eco Fashion Week Australia in November. Learn more about the event here.
Editor’s note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.