Katla and Shelly Xu Design launch completely zero-waste fashion hoodie – WWD

For sustainable fashion redesign to really take hold, the industry could learn a thing or two from “Chopped.”

The Food Network cooking show challenged contestants to combine all the food they had in their baskets into a creative dish. In other words, it challenged them to create a dish based on what they had, rather than imagining a dish and then sourcing the ingredients – at all costs – to create it.

This is how Shelly Xu approaches zero waste design – letting the ingredients, or raw materials she has, influence what she will design. It goes from fabric to concept to garment, rather than from concept to fabric to garment. And the difference is a pile of fabric scraps.

As part of a new partnership between sustainable fashion brand Katla and Xu’s eponymous zero-waste startup, Shelly Xu Design, or SXD, a standard hoodie has gotten the zero-waste treatment. The tie resulted in a hoodie that uses 25% less fabric than its traditional counterpart. This means 25% less material consumption and 25% less material costs.

For Katla, already a proponent of zero-waste manufacturing, this means a new kind of waste-saving synergy born from the marriage of zero-waste manufacturing with zero-waste design – a partnership that seems both obvious and necessary.

“By combining these two ways of working, zero waste design and zero waste manufacturing, we would have something even more powerful,” said Aslaug Magnusdottir, founder and CEO of Katla, who is also co-founder and former CEO of Moda. Operandi. .

“I just thought it was such a perfect way to tie things together and close the loop with this idea of ​​zero waste, both by eliminating waste on the production side and on the design side,” said added Xu. “There are so few styles as universal and timeless as the hoodie… This collaboration is a great way to show how universal zero waste can be and can be a very scalable product.”

To create the hoodie, which drops on Katla’s website on Tuesday, the pair started with Katla’s existing GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton fleece.

“For zero waste design, especially at SXD, we start every design with fabric as our inspiration,” Xu said. “I looked at it and thought, it’s so comfortable, it’s something people will want to live in [and] I want to design something that looks oversized and really comfortable.

From there, Xu envisioned a pattern that wouldn’t be constricted near the armholes to add comfort and an overall sizing that would provide that lived-in feel. Then she started creating shapes – not quite “pieces” of patterns.

Doodles of Shelly Xu Design zero waste pattern for Katla hoodie

Doodles of Shelly Xu’s zero waste model before finalization.
Courtesy of Shelly Xu Design

“It’s really about playing with the geometry to see how to maximize the creativity of what we can do within the defined size dimension of the fabric. Usually when I get a piece of fabric the first thing I do is smell it and think about it, but the second thing I do is look at the width as that will be the overriding creative constraint for a zero waste design . So I want to make sure that every piece can fit perfectly within that width while being as efficient as possible in the use of materials,” Xu said.

In a way, it’s kind of the reverse of the typical fashion MO

“I think the biggest difference is with the traditional designs. You first start with a creative vision or a very free sketch, like it’s kind of the general silhouette of a hoodie. Or maybe if you don’t want to be so creative with your hoodie, you look at how hoodies are made so far and then you make some changes to that pattern and what that means is there’s a lot of curves in the way you cut,” she explained. “The pieces obviously don’t fit together because how you think about the cut comes after you imagine a design. There are therefore inevitably scraps of fabric that come out.

While anything that could save 25% material usage seems like the way to go with every design, there are challenges to that, hence why Katla can’t convert all of her hoodies just yet into zero-waste versions of themselves – although the aim is to gradually move in this direction.

“That skill doesn’t currently exist in most people we work with, so the teams that created our models have never done zero-waste design,” Magnusdottir said. “It’s a special skill [that] hopefully more people will start adopting, but that’s another thing that’s going to take some time in the industry.

On the one hand, factories will have to be ready to experiment with redesigning a process they have mastered over decades.

“When I spoke to the factories several years ago, they were quite reluctant to create zero waste things because, for example, they are used to only cutting the edges of the fabric from the start. Or because the regular patterns are irregular shapes, they actually program the cut to have gaps between different shapes… so there is automatically, programmed into the manufacturing process, some fabric waste from the start,” Xu said. “For s to make sure that’s not the case, it’s actually a change not only in design but also in production.”

It also means grading is over – each size of this zero waste hoodie had to be designed separately.

But for those who are starting to worry that it’s not scalable, Xu has an answer in the works: “My start-up, we’re currently working on software that translates design artwork into zero-waste technology packs. This is going to take a few years to build, but I’m building a team for this so we can then scale the zero waste design.

In the meantime, the new Katla x SXD hoodie will be available in black and white, in two sizes, for all genders, and will retail for $220 (in line with Katla’s traditional product pricing). And there is no risk that the drop will sell out.

“The beauty of zero waste manufacturing is that we don’t sell, we manufacture as needed, so in small batches and to order.…We plan to keep it running for a period of time and will restock and stick around for that. We don’t build up a large amount of inventory in advance, we react to the demands of our consumers in terms of quantity,” Magnusdottir said. “And that’s also part of the reason for sticking to a simple color palette, these are fabrics that we wear anyway and then we can see how it goes and who knows, if all goes well, maybe we’ll launch other products together in the future.

A drawing of SXD's zero waste design, which is featured on the back of the Katla hoodie

A drawing of SXD’s zero waste design, which is featured on the back of the hoodie.
Courtesy of Katla x SXD

In another move that speaks to the kind of collaboration and sharing that fashion could benefit more from, the design of the Katla x SXD hoodie will be open sourced. In fact, a drawing of the pattern will be featured on a patch under the hood.

“We wanted to replicate the Silicon Valley open source philosophy,” Aslaug said. “Obviously, we both want to build successful brands, but there’s a bigger mission behind…what we do. We want to help contribute to an industry transformation, so [the] the more people implement these types of practices, zero waste manufacturing and zero waste design, the more we can move the industry.

Abdul J. Gaspar