Re-Dress are an organisation based in Dublin set up by three vibrant ladies Rosie O’Reilly, Kellie Dalton and Kate Nolan for the promotion of sustainable fashion and textiles in Ireland.
I participated in a project for their stand in the Green Area of Electric Picnic 08. The brief was to ‘upcycle’ a tent into a garment. I used an old 60’s British army tent with some high-quality original details which I preserved in the final piece. The idea was to highlight the importance of intention in design. If you do not intend that a product will be recyclable at the end of its first life-span, then the inevitable outcome for its life after recycling is a lower grade product.
Braungart and McDonagh in Cradle to Cradle use the example of recycled plastics being made into synthetic fibres for the use in clothing where the chemical content of those fibres was never intended to sit against the body and can in some cases be in fact harmful. One of my original concerns was the suitability of tent textile for use against the body, and I contemplated creating an upcycled object for the project that was not necessarily wearable. But I guess if you can sleep in a tent, you can wear it right? And either way, there are certain restrictions to upcycling which probably only apply on a mass-manufacture scale and the value of hand-crafted one-off pieces transcends all those concerns as there is automatically transparency in the process.
In aligning a tent with clothing, there are joint properties that can be explored – protection and shelter. For this, I went with a cloak, as an object that is possibly inhabited more than worn.