IT ALL ADDS UP: As part of the fashion industry’s ongoing crusade to make sustainability a more palatable subject, the art installation “Waste No More” will be staged at the Park Avenue Armory starting Thursday.
On view through Nov. 12, the environmentally oriented project will be set up in conjunction with The Salon Art + Design. Curated by Li Edelkoort, the show is meant to raise awareness about the mammoth amount of textile waste that consumers contribute to annually and to also show visitors the upsides of the circular economy.
An estimated $500 billion worth of clothing that is barely worn and rarely recycled is lost annually. More simply put, the average U.S. citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing each year. Without any improvement, the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
With a name that seems to riff on the theatrical immersion experience, “Sleep No More,” Waste No More will be set up in the reception rooms of the Upper East Side Armory. It is presented by DesignWork, which is part of Renew, an initiative that turns previously owned Eileen Fisher clothing into felted material for fashion, home and interiors. In the past nine years, the company has collected more than 1 million worn or torn garments through its take-back and reuse program.
Throughout her career, Fisher has been very vocal about the need for sustainability. With its Vision2020 program, the company has pledged to use the most sustainable fibers that it can find including all organic cotton and linen, wool from responsibly raised sheep and only polyester that has been recycled. DesignWork links up artists and makers to rework consumers’ used garments for wall hangings and other items that are used for interiors and public spaces. Some of those designs will be showcased at the Dear Mama Café that is planned for the Columbia University’s new Jerome L. Greene Science Center. That Renzo-Piano-designed facility will be the first building to be completed on the school’s satellite 17-acre campus.
When Waste No More was staged in Milan and Paris this spring, about 6,613 pounds of clothing was used for the waste installation. For the U.S. version, nearly 8,000 pounds of discarded clothing will be on view at the armory. The installation’s tower of old clothing is supposed to remind visitors of the depth of discarded clothing, and show how upcycled materials can be used in contemporary design.
The artist and Fisher’s long-term collaborator Sigi Ahl developed the zero-waste “wall works,” which will be displayed in the second gallery. That was done with the help of Eileen Fisher’s sorting and recycling facility in Irvington, N.Y.