KATLA Pairs Zero Waste Manufacturing with Zero Waste Design
At Katla, we start with timeless style and create with environmentally-friendly fabrics that are manufactured in accordance with our zero waste manufacturing principles. We embrace a zero waste philosophy through our commitment to operate with a mix of small production runs and fast on-demand manufacturing. This enables us to create clothes that will be used and cherished by customers and reduce wasted inventory.
Why Zero Waste is Important for the Industry
It is no secret that fashion has a waste problem. The fashion industry overproduces a staggering 30-40% each season. The volume of clothing Americans throw away each year has doubled in the last 20 years from 7 million to 14 million tons. From textile waste to leftover thread, there is space for designers to reuse, recycle and reduce consumption in the creation of clothes and in production. Today, upwards of 17 million tons of textile waste end up in landfills according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency. Zero-waste manufacturing strives to eliminate the waste created by overproduction based on traditional fashion seasons. We’re excited to pioneer a new model for zero-waste fashion to counteract waste in a sector that has been lagging when it comes to implementing sustainable practices.
What is Zero Waste Design?
Although recently a topic of interest in response to fast fashion, zero-waste design has in fact been around for centuries. This can be seen in traditional garments such as the Japanese kimono and Indian sari. For these cultures, fabric was cherished and people aimed to minimize waste by maximizing fabric usage. Design elements included minimal arm shaping, rectangular sleeves and pants, and engineering garment pieces to match the available fabric length and width.
With industrialization, as fabric became more affordable, waste crept into the manufacturing process. Today, many designers operate independently of pattern makers and neither have much contact with those responsible for fabric cutting layouts and manufacturing. This has led to many designers having little visibility into how their designs affect pattern layouts and the pattern cutting process - all of which affect the amount of waste produced.
Zero waste design is a commitment to creating artful and versatile clothing while eliminating fabric waste produced by conventional garment design. How is this possible? Most patterns that pattern makers encounter include curved seams and hems as well as multiple pieces from different angles, making it nearly impossible to create a cutting layout with no fabric scraps. The pattern pieces of zero-waste design fit together such that no fabric is wasted during the cutting process. This can mean eliminating odd shapes between pattern pieces, designing pattern pieces such that they interlock like a puzzle, or creatively using leftover bits of fabric to create embellishments, bias tape and the like.
A new cadre of designers are emerging who have embraced this challenge to create distinctive and fashion-forward clothing collections with conscious design. Some create shape by removing fabric and starting with a flat piece that they then slice open with a strategic set of holes that allow the materials to be twisted or fed upon itself. Zero-waste designers also explore using the odd pieces of fabric inherent in necklines and armscye - using those additional fabric pieces for shoulder pad coverings, fabric-covered buttons, fabric embellishments, welt pockets and others uses. Changing seaming and grainlines change the way the final garment behaves, but this can open up new ways of thinking abouts shape, form, ease, print, fabric and fit.
To the untrained eye, zero-waste design can look intimidating. The finished pattern resembles interlocking puzzle pieces. Yet the design process is an iterative one with patterns, fittings, and alterations that focus on garment shape. Once the layout works, the designers evaluate the pattern shape on the actual fabric and begin designing garment details like the collar and cuffs of a shirt. Beyond sustainability, zero-waste fashion design comes with benefits to the design world by cutting back on raw material inputs and saving money, as well as scaling progress in sustainability.
At Katla, we are committed to proving the powerful combination of zero waste manufacturing and zero waste design as it is not only possible but a better way for the industry to move forward. From innovative materials to zero waste manufacturing and design practices, we introduce a new path forward for fashion.
Introducing Our Zero Waste Hoodie: Zero Waste, Zero Compromise
The concept of exploring creativity under constraint underlies our Zero Waste Hoodie design process which we did in collaboration with SXC. The hoodie is about reimagining one of the most popular staples in our closets to be as sustainably designed as possible. It saves approximately 25% of the raw fabric material in production versus a traditionally designed hoodie while featuring a spacious and clean silhouette. By combining the power of SXD in zero-waste fashion design and Katla in on-demand manufacturing, we have delivered an end-to-end sustainable product. Our approach is zero waste, zero compromise. The open source pattern on the back of the hoodies plays the crucial role of allowing other curious fashion designers to learn about zero waste design principles and create their own version of the zero waste hoodie.