“Li Edelkoort encouraged me to participate as part of New York Textile Month and I thought it was a cool opportunity to do something that educates people about textiles, but is still within the realm of fashion,” Degen said. “I thought I would get a group of textile designers and artists together to make a sculpture that kind of references different garment parts.”
Trend forecaster Edelkoort has spearheaded the first New York Textile Month in September, a citywide multiinstitutional series of events and exhibitions to pay tribute to the city’s textile industry and encourage its future development.
Degen enlisted nine artists and designers to collaborate and construct an eight-foot sculpture comprised of various textiles from Fabscrap, a fabric upcycler that sources discarded fabric waste.
Degen worked with the crew to knit, sew, embroider, embellish, pattern-make and drape the abstract sculpture. The roster of collaborators include artists Kate Phillips, Amy Cakes, Heather Marie Scholl, Eliza Fisher, Katelynn Hanners, Kayla Carpitella and Lexy Ho-Tai.
The larger-than-life, one-of-a-kind piece, representing an abstracted human in motion, features a knitted hat, zipper sleeves, skirt, legs, socks and Teva sandals and is shown in eight tiers while models wearing clothes made from the same materials study the form.
“Construct” will be unveiled on Sept. 9 at the South Street Seaport’s WantedDesign space on the second floor from 6 to 8 p.m., as part of Degen’s spring collection presentation, and then will be open to the public from Sept. 10 to 14.
Degen said the gallery-style show will include models wearing minimal makeup looking curiously at the sculpture as if contemplating “who makes fashion.”
“I hope there are multiple things that people take away,” Degen said. “The point is how to think about how clothes are made and who makes it, that the industry has a problem with sustainability and how and where things are made.
“It’s also a social stance on the celebritization of fashion, on why are people so in awe of models, when there are people who are unrecognized who make the fabrics and make the garments. There’s a wastefulness in fashion in terms of the way materials are used and also in what is not actually bought and who knows where it goes.”
As for using recycled or upcycled materials in her own collection, Degen said, “You’re foolish if you’re unable to use recycled materials because not only are they way cheaper, but there’s a huge variety of the type of materials that are available. It’s important and smart.”