Fashion design with purpose: Collaborating with The Social Outfit

The Social Outfit

Billy Blue College of Design has teamed up with The Social Outfit to create a design challenge to solve fashion wastage. Check out the winning design below.

Billy Blue College of Design at Torrens University has teamed up with The Social Outfit with a challenge to design a bomber jacket with deadstock leftover fabric destined for landfill.

The challenge aimed to foster creativity and engage students in a hands-on, real-world design process, with a partner that values and promotes ethical fashion practices. Through this collaboration participants were encouraged to incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable materials in their designs to align with The Social Outfit's values.

There was a competitive clause within the challenge, with an opportunity for the winning design to be produced in a limited run for sale in their Newtown store, launched at an in-store event, and exhibited in their King Street front windows.

“The Social Outfit team found the experience of working with Billy Blue College of Design students exciting and invigorating,” said Camilla Schippa, CEO, The Social Outfit. “Being able to incorporate emerging fashion designers’ ideas into our collections is something we really value.”

Aligning our Be Good value and B Corporation Certification with The Social Outfit

The Social Outfit is a social enterprise charity that provides employment and training via their ethical manufacturing studio in Marrickville and retail store in Sydney’s bohemian, eclectic and iconic suburb Newtown.

It is a fashion enterprise with a difference, a label that designs ethically and sustainably to help financially empower people from refugee and new migrant backgrounds, with a particular focus on non-English speaking female humanitarian migrants.

The Social Outfit only uses deadstock and donated excess fabric from Australian fashion brands including Cue, Romance was Born, Bianca Spender, Bec + Bridge, Camilla & Marc, Manning Cartell and Zimmermann.

Yan Pothin, Learning Facilitator and Subject Coordinator Branded Fashion Design at Torrens University Australia, drove the initiative and co-created the design challenge with The Social Outfit.

"Working with The Social Outfit project has been a great industry experience for the students. The students gained insight into the charity's motivation for assisting refugee and migrant women into the workforce and their drive for circularity within the fashion system,” said Yan.

"In addition to equipping graduates with the knowledge and skills they need for career success, we seek out curriculum opportunities to ensure our Design course students see how their individual and collective contributions can make a difference to the lives of those around them and beyond,” said Nathan Scoular, Industry Director at Torrens University Australia. “Our collaboration with The Social Outfit highlights how impactful learning with purpose can be.”

Innovative solutions to prevent waste in the fashion industry

Our second year Branded Fashion Design students were tasked with reimagining the classic ‘Aviator’ or ‘Bomber’ jacket for the modern male audience in collaboration with The Social Outfit.

The objective of this design challenge, competition and collaboration was to provide our Branded Fashion Design students in the advanced draping subject an opportunity to use their creativity and design skills to contribute to a meaningful and charitable cause.

The challenge required using a raft of unused designer fabrics and trimmings provided by The Social Outfit including the remnants of a recent Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson ‘Step into Paradise’ exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum.

Students visited The Social Outfit workroom in Marrickville to meet with CEO Camilla Schippa, as well as the workroom sewing technicians, all refugee women on their first Australian jobs, to get a feel for how the social enterprise operates.

“Bringing together students with our community of refugee women seamstresses is a way to build cohesion and understanding in Sydney, and we look forward to a continued collaboration,” said Camilla.

Camilla introduced the students to the design challenge, and the fabrics available for their jacket design.

The students were encouraged to change the shape, alter seam line proportions, sleeve and shoulder lines, and play with depth and placement of the cuff and band. They had the option to create textual features including applique or distressing, or simple print techniques using whatever combination of the swatches provided.

The caveat was that the design must not be too complicated so it could be easily reproduced for commercial sale.

The partnership highlighted our industry ready and innovative emerging designers

The design challenge enabled our students with a live brief experience within a real-world industry setting, with the added dimension of designing for a social cause.

“We cannot wait to show the new Aviator jacket to our customers and see how they respond,” said Camilla.

The winning design was created by Zoe Stibbard-Ribeiro.

The Social Outfit

“I’m so thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with a fashion label whose values align so closely with my own,” said Zoe. “The Social Outfit sets such a great example for young designers today by producing beautiful garments ethically and sustainably, whilst providing women with such a supportive environment.”

You can hear more about the project in the video below.

Check our Branded Fashion Design Courses to learn more
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