My name is Julie Walesieniuk. I am a Graphic and Media Design Student at LCC.
In my last blog post, I was quite miserable and desperate. I was constantly comparing myself and my achievements to other DPS students. Back then I didn’t manage to secure any internship, I did a few life briefs and commissions for friends. The only thing that was keeping me focus was my SIPP project which made me more engaged with all the current trends and the concept of sustainability in the fashion industry. Nevertheless, for the majority of the time, I was not fulfilled as a student, designer or creative person in general.
At the beginning of March, I reached out to SIRPLUS which is a menswear brand producing “high-calibre materials that are ethical and sustainable for casual and formal wear”. This amazing opportunity made me extremely excited for all the new challenges and it felt like it’s vital to make most of my time at Sirplus. Besides getting to know the industry, business processes, technical aspects and developing my graphic skills I want to discover new practical insights on sustainability and responsible practice. So far I got to know a little bit about the brand’s textile production, waste and the impact it has on the brand’s social responsibility towards their stakeholders. Knowing that I am excited to implement new findings into my future projects.
Being a graphic design intern at a sustainable brand doesn’t tell you a lot about the textiles, however, you can tell how everyone who’s working there is obsessed with implementing sustainable practices on every possible level. The owner of the Sirplus, Henry Hales is a very inspirational figure. He took the risk to literally do something out of nothing. He used an opportunity to turn unwanted pieces into fashionable and high-quality products. Nowadays, Sirplus designers craft whole collections with surplus materials and work closely with other UK based companies (mutual collaboration for greater cause). From time to time they collaborate with other European factories to improve the quality of the products, however, they haven't forgotten their roots. They try their best to improve the sustainable roots to absolute perfection! They want to share their experience with others and inspire people to re-think their current fashion habits. Sirplus pays close attention to things they hate which is bad environmental impact, climate change, pollution and deforestation. They collaborate with a range of charities to share their positive impact rather than benefit from mutual cooperation.
As a graphic designer, who is working on my sustainable brand I can see how much power I have over-responsible practices. We use our knowledge and technology to visually communicate values that matter. Both design and technology are reliant on each other and have power to impact us all. Internet today is so advanced and it is an extremely powerful tool. The Social Dilemma (a documentary available at Netflix) proves it perfectly. The big organisations want to control us and our actions. How amazing would it be to be ‘manipulated’ by them for an actual good cause? Designing and creating clothes, campaigns, advertisements can change customers mindsets and habits which in a long run can help create a more sustainable world. From my own experience as a customer or internet user I feel disgust by companies that try to use my data for their advantage. I feel way more comfortable supporting small, independent brands or companies that inform/ acknowledge their customer base about production processes and the development of textiles. It broadens our knowledge of what exactly we are wearing, what bigger concepts/ideas we are supporting and to what ethical mechanisms we together contribute on a bigger scale. It is good to know that our new clothes help the planet rather then slowly destroy it with carbon emissions and wastewater.
I feel like a sustainable future is possible as long as big companies, businesses would take honest actions and responsibility instead of giving society empty promises. This environmental change needs determined leaders that will lead others into a better future. Big organisations which have a lot of power should rethink their goals and ethics and stop focusing on benefits only, cause in a long run their selfish actions will not help both the economy and the emerging global crisis. Selfish, profit-oriented actions will destroy us and everything that we create now will become pointless. In my opinion, Henry Hales from Sirplus is an excellent example of a leader that fulfils his personal dream but simultaneously work with other creators on discovering new ways to incorporate as many eco-friendly possibilities into the brand. And the world needs more people like him!
One day, I would love to be a leader like that. I want to inspire others and make a difference. But I know it takes a lot of courage, strength, determination and knowledge to do it right. Even though I am not ready yet, I educate myself and people around me, we change our habits to be better people for our planet. In terms of my SIPP project, I am an individual for whom the concept of sustainability is very inspiring but quite overwhelming. As a person who strives to be self-sufficient is hard for me to ask others for help, even though I could benefit from it. So far, while working on my sustainable brand I did both theoretical and practical research on how different fabrics dye using natural materials such as berries, vegetables, plants etc. However, even though the overall experience was fun to make, I was not fully satisfied with the final quality. Reaching out to organisations and manufacturers would set new goals and directions for my project (I will get right on it!). Sirplus background story got me really into thinking that it’s possible to make something out of nothing. In the moments of self-doubt, my thoughts are pretty negative and I feel like nothing will ever make sense. I self-sabotage all my work and let negativity take over my dreams and ambitions. I guess that’s why it takes me so long to make things done. I hope that my internship at Sirplus will motivate me, even more, to finally make my ideas a tangible outcome that I could share with others, including you guys.
Sirplus Clothing website: https://sirplus.co.uk/