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

For the sustainable fashion overhaul 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 foods they had in their baskets into one creative dish. In other words, it challenged them to create a dish based on what they had, rather than imagine a dish and then source the ingredients – at any cost – to create it.

This is how Shelly Xu approaches zero waste design – leaving whatever ingredients or raw materials she has available inform what she will design. She goes from fabric to concept to garment, rather than from concept to fabric to garment. And the difference is a lot of fabric waste.

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

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

“By combining these two working methods, 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 this was such a perfect way to tie things together and come full circle with this zero waste idea, both removing waste on the production side and also on the design side,” he said. added Xu. “There are so few styles as universal and timeless as the hoodie. … This collaboration is a good way to show to what extent zero waste can be universal and can be a very scalable product. “

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

“For zero waste design, especially at SXD, we start every design with fabric as inspiration,” said Xu. “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 is oversized and really comfortable.

From there, Xu envisioned a design that wouldn’t tighten near the armholes to add comfort and an overall size that would deliver that lived-in feel. Then she started to create shapes – not quite “pieces”.

Shelly Xu Design Zero Waste Pattern Doodles for Katla Hoodie

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

“It’s really playing with 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 feel it and think about it, but the second thing I do is look at the width as that is going to be the overarching creative constraint for a zero design. waste. So I want to make sure that each piece fits perfectly into this width while being as efficient as possible in the use of materials, ”said Xu.

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

“I think the biggest difference is with traditional models. You start with a creative vision or a very loose sketch first, as if it’s some kind of overall 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 make a few changes to that template. And what that means is that there are a lot of curves in the way you cut, ”she explained. “The pieces obviously don’t fit together because the way you think about the cut comes after you’ve considered a design. There are therefore inevitably scraps of tissue coming out of it. “

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

“This skill set doesn’t currently exist in most of the people we work with, so the teams that created our models never did a zero waste design,” Magnusdottir said. “This is a special skill [that] hopefully more people will start adopting, but that’s another thing that’s going to take a little while in the industry.

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, the new Katla x SXD hoodie will be available in black and white, two sizes, suitable for all genders, and will cost $ 220 (in line with prices for traditional Katla products). And there is no risk that the drop will sell.

“The beauty of zero waste manufacturing is that we don’t actually sell, we manufacture as needed, so in small batches and to order. … We plan to run it for a period of time and we will restock and stick with it. We don’t build a large amount of inventory in advance, we react to our consumers’ demands in terms of quantity, ”said Magnusdottir. “And that’s also one of the reasons we have to stick 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 can launch more products together in the future. “

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

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

In another movement that talks about the kind of collaboration and sharing that fashion could benefit more from, the design of the Katla x SXD hoodie will be open source. In fact, a design of the pattern will be featured on a patch under the hood.

“We wanted to replicate the open source philosophy of Silicon Valley,” said Aslaug. “Obviously we both want to create successful brands, but there is a bigger mission behind… what we do. We want to help transform the industry, so [the] more and more people are implementing these kinds of practices, zero waste manufacturing and zero waste design, the more we can move the industry forward.

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