Sustainable collection of garments following the principles of the circular economy.
To combine cultural heritage, tradition and artisan manufacturing techniques with high-quality fabrication, sustainable raw materials, conscious design (zero-waste patterns) and following a circular economy business models.
(MUB) is a sustainable capsule collection of garments developed following the principles of the circular economy as a pilot experience to raise awareness on the impact of fashion in our planet and promote pеople’s involvement in disrupting the current fashion system. The capsule collection is designed and manufactured by Dahlia Rodríguez using artisan techniques and bed linen clothes as raw materials which are previously sourced from swap markets organised by Empty Your Wardrobe and naturally dyed by Warm & Wild.
Make Your Bed is a joint venture project started by Marta Sieteiglesias Ávila for Warm & Wild studio based in Madrid, Dahlia Rodríguez for DsR Atelier located in Lisbon, and Svetlana Petrova for Empty Your Wardrobe (Bulgaria). Empty Your Wardrobe has been in search of a passionate craft maker who possesses a sustainable mindset and similar philosophy: to create concerning nature, to protect our heritage, to transform what is considered as waste into beautiful products, to give a new life to old, unwanted fabrics and garments. Since the founding of EYW in 2015, the team has been trying to close the loop, to prolong the life cycle of the clothes that are collected or exchanged through swap markets. On the other side, Warm & Wild always dreamt of having a collection of sustainable clothes created with fabrics dyed by her with plant-based dyes. This was a way to make accessible to people a collection of clothes that shares the principles of zero-waste and sustainability. Without sewing or designing knowledge, Marta (owner of Warm & Wild) thought this dream was hardly impossible to achieve until the opportunity of creating MUB thanks to the Worth Partnership Project made it possible.
From her side, Dahlia Rodriguez was dreaming about making garments. reusing old textiles, especially bed linen sheets that she used to collect from flea markets and her grandmother’s houses as well as apply craftsmanship techniques to use scraps in the creative process such as patchwork or weaving, both techniques she has been practicing lately. Three of us funnily crossed our paths through the Worth Partnership Project’s platform on different occasions before getting successful. In 2018, Marta and Dahlia got in touch but Marta applied with someone else and Dahlia applied with Svetlana who approached her. In 2019, when considering applying again Svetlana and Dahlia, Marta got in touch and a new team and proposal were born joining the background of the three. In the end, this amazing confluence of hopes, ideas, and attempts finally brought MUB to a lovely story! In 2019, Worth Partnership Project happens to appear at the right time offering a great variety of opportunities for the three of us. Looking for the perfect match between craftsmanship, circular economy, and sustainable manufacturing, through the platform we discovered that we have so much in common.
That all of us speak the same language despite the fact we originated from different countries. The love towards sustainability and protecting nature, converting what is considered as waste into something beautiful, useful – that united us. We came upon the fact that our skills complement each other. However, it was important to find a cohesive image and merge these three personalities into one single concept. It was primarily to build a concept aligned with our esthetics and values. And finally, to send the right message to our future customers – to buy and wear clothes with stories, clothes that matter. We felt empowered and believed more than ever in the success of MUB Collection – a sustainable capsule collection of garments following the principles of the Circular Economy, a project that was announced as one of the finalists at the 3rd Worth Partnership Call in 2020.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT:
MUB is a sustainable capsule collection of garments following the principles of the circular economy as a pilot experience to raise awareness on the impact of fashion on our planet and promote pеople’s involvement in disrupting the current fashion system. By combining conscious design, with traditional manufacturing, craftsmanship techniques, the use of discarded or reused natural fabrics as raw materials (such as old bed linen, scraps, and reused textiles), and circular economy participation (via swap markets), MUB is a capsule collection serving as pilot practice bringing a new approach to the fashion sector. This partnership formed by Empty Your Wardrobe, Warm & Wild and Dahlia Rodríguez aims to close the loop by sustaining the production of eco-friendly garments as well as delivering sustainable options to modern and conscious people.
The MUB project will provide a unique capsule wardrobe to citizens committed to sustainability and awareness of the power of social design and innovation. Fashion is one of the most polluting industries, therefore we need to create solutions to make fashion more sustainable. Contribution to the circular economy is evident in the reuse, repair, recycling, and upcycling of garments. Reusing materials from swap markets and giving them a second life is a great way to achieve it. Our process of natural dyeing avoids using toxic chemicals which reduces the pollution otherwise generated by chemical dyes.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS:
MUB Capsule Collection aims to integrate a collection of basic garments that can be used in different seasons and with different daily life purposes. The capsule collection is designed and manufactured by Dahlia Rodríguez using artisan techniques and bed linen & cotton clothes sourced from swap markets organized by Empty Your Wardrobe to be naturally dyed by Warm & Wild, as raw materials. Warm and Wild is in charge of manipulating fabrics and coordinating the whole natural dyeing process using non-toxic sustainable dyes such as plants, flowers, and food waste, a technique emphasizing our commitment to zero-waste and circular economy values. The process of developing the capsule collection has been a challenge by itself because it included different but complementary steps that needed joint efforts and the best from each of us. Namely, the concept of the capsule collection, the sourcing of swapped and discarded home clothing and garments, the application of a natural dyeing process, the design of the collection, and its manufacturing taking into account the characteristics of the fabrics collected. With all the challenges we have faced, new opportunities have been discovered. At the level of collecting and sourcing the raw materials for the collection, EYW had to be innovative and cope with Covid-19 health restrictions which strongly impacted our plans for the organization of swap markets and events. Fortunately, through partnership and cooperation, Empty Your Wardrobe succeeded in organizing 3 swap markets (May-August 2020) in Denmark. People were invited to bring bed linen & cotton fabrics and received extra coupons: Wastecoins. These coins can be exchanged in the future for shopping MUB products. The events were visited by more than 500 people who experienced the vibe of sustainable culture.At the end of Sept 2020 a new Swap Spot (a physical dynamic wardrobe for secondhand clothes exchange) in Kolding (DK) to serve as a sourcing spot for the MUB Collection was launched. In addition, it was extremely difficult to source garments made of natural fibers in the swap markets and spot.
Luckily, Empty Your Wardrobe developed a partnership with a local company, Beirholm, producing bed linen products in order to benefit from discarded products, which did not pass quality controls. We have set an agreement to use the discarded fabrics and EYWvisited the factory twice and collected samples for the creation of MUB Collection – high-quality fabrics that are, however, considered as waste. At the level of natural dyeing, fabrics sourced by Empty Your Wardrobe have been naturally dyed by Marta (Warm and Wild) from August to December and were shipped to Dahlia Rodríguez at the end of December. The process included the use of food waste and other natural resources (onion skins, avocados, nutshells, eucalyptus, flowers, roots, etc) and techniques such as deep dyeing, bundle dyeing, and tie-dyeing, among others.
Dyeing with plant-based dyes is always a mystery, as you never know the exact colour you will get. It’s magical to see how a fabric turns from white to a marvelous blush pink just by using avocado stones. And also, some of the smells dyes leave on the clothes are very special. The uniqueness of the colours created by nature is part of what makes MUB collection so exceptional. For the development of MUB’s Capsule collection it was really important to be sure that three of us were part of the creative process. That’ s why the development of the concept was done through a brainstorming exercise, digitally organised because of Covid-19, that included the definition of a common mood board as well as a joint selection of the essential garments. The second step towards the development of the capsule collection was the design of the garments following a common selection of shapes, styles, patterns and values that could match with the clothes and fabrics sourced via swap markets and the partnership established.
During the design and manufacturing process it was important for the collection to embrace minimal waste principles. Through pattern making process as well as craftsmanship techniques to use scraps, the opportunities of making increased. MUB collection has been fully manufactured using discarded bed linen sheets previously dyed with natural methods by Warm and Wild. The making process was challenging and motivating as each fabric had a size and different falling that required a previous analysis of matching between design and fabric. Working with these fabrics was a luxury opportunity. Their unique colours, textures and even smell, make them precious elements far away from their origin as discarded fabrics.
Through the Make Your Bed project we realized how important it is to have a team. Bringing together people with diverse skills, coming from different countries, trying to work as a team could generate huge conflict, especially if we take into account that due to the Covid-19 pandemic we never had the chance to meet in person. Indeed through these conflicts and challenges, innovative solutions were born, bold decisions were made and critical situations have been overcome.
Through the power of quality of conversation, openness to learning from others, professionalism, coaching & mentoring that was provided, accepting different point of views, having the freedom to create but as well deliver on time, seeing “both” sides, and being responsible – that we call “a learning path” we were so happy to “walk the talk” together- EYW, WW & DR, supported by WPP and our two mentors. We all believe that cooperation increased our own added values. Moreover, we believe that by joining our complementary skills, we have created something unique and different, in connection with our values and in line with our professional paths: bringing new models of collaboration and co-creation to disrupting the current fashion system.
Our ambitions are to sell the collection to our followers online through made-to-order and ready-to-wear options. We aim to create strong online shop and brand awareness and trust through a digital marketing presence. Our focus market as a start will be Spain and later expand in other EU countries. Through Influencers Marketing Campaigns, Paid Ads, Web SEO, Special Offers / Promotions, an appealing image, and correct customer service, we aim to enlarge our audience rapidly. Further, we plan to engage with other like-minded communities and organizations and expand outside Europe.
We would focus on new partnerships with influencers, organizing workshops (online, offline), recording podcasts, and starting vlogging/blogging. Partnerships with companies providing discarded fabrics as well as the involvement of the community via clothes swapping will be strengthened in order to ensure a continuous flow of fabrics and help the industry to avoid fabric discarding. As a new brand, we would be seeking additional funding for Marketing & Sales, Logistics & Operations.
Our message: “Wear clothes that matter.” Through the MUB Collection project, we realized that together we contribute better, more, and faster in promoting sustainable fashion following the principles of the circular economy. For Svetlana (EYW) it was of great importance to gain an understanding of the whole value chain, to learn from the two partners about Zero Waste Designs, Traditional Natural Dyeing & Artisan Manufacturing. It was exciting for her to be a part of a process – led by three partners with very diverse skills and culture who found the way to speak the same “language” and build a cohesive brand image.
For Marta (WW), this project has been a great experience and has allowed her to grow both personally and professionally. It has given her the opportunity to learn a lot about zero waste, circular economy, the process of designing a capsule collection from scratch, while she has also found it very rewarding to be able to discuss different points of view with other artisan colleagues. For Dahlia (DR), Make Your Bed has been an excellent opportunity to challenge herself as a dressmaker. Finding the best ways to deconstruct the clothes collected during the swap markets as well as working on minimal waste patterns was a wonderful opportunity to explore new manufacturing processes. Moreover, she has learned very much from community participation, the impact of the fashion industry on the planet, and the potential of natural dyeing techniques.
Based in Lisbon, Dahlia Rodriguez is a dressmaker with a passion for crafts and textiles. She launched her own brand in 2017 as designer and maker offering tailoring and quilting services and researches craft design.
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- DAHLIA RODRIGUEZ
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