Zero Waste + Pre Consumer Waste Hosiery + Surface Design + Visible Mending
Katherine Soucie established her sustainable textile design research and practice in 2003 in Vancouver upon graduating from Capilano University's Textile Arts Program. The studio was formed as a result of a proprietary textile process she developed as a student. Her thesis research was looking at how to create new sustainable textiles from existing textile mill waste. From this, her signature hosiery textile process was born. She transforms pre-consumer waste hosiery (aka. pantyhose mill waste) from Canadian manufacturers into new textiles, garments, accessories and by-products. Artisanal textile applications, obsolete machinery, low impact dyes and textile inks are the foundation of this application. Soucie states, " I am not doing anything new. I am reimagining the past, giving life to the obsolete and forgotten. I value the skillset and knowledge that has been passed down to me as a maker and as a maker I have a responsibility as to what I put out in the environment. I create new textiles in response to the material waste produced by industry here in Canada and transform modes of production (hand, industrial, digital) into collaborations that allow for past technologies to inform the present. Acting as a guide to creative breakthroughs and new pathways I am constantly researching and developing ways to integrate modern day technology, practices and industry at large to produce hand made textiles in a zero waste manner."
From 2002-2013, Soucie spent much of this time researching and developing ways to reimagine this material resource. During this time several textile and garment collections were produced which has come to serve as foundation for the future of Sans Soucie and our signature hosiery textile process.
Visible Mending Research + Post Consumer Textile + Apparel Waste
Visible Mending is not just an act of mending and repair it is also a design practice and mode of production. I began to explore visible mending in the 1990's as a teenager trying to alter and create new ensembles that reflected my cultural identity. A cultural identity that was an eclectic mix of whatever vintage clothing, hand me downs, dead stock and textile mills ends I could get my hands on. Little did I know this would lead me towards a career specializing in the (re)imagination of textile waste for the sole purpose of reverse engineering it.
Mending is traditionally an application that was considered needle craft and was hand administered to invisibly repair holes, tears, snags, etc. in textiles and garments. My work and research is the complete opposite to this. I use obsolete and discarded industrial sewing machines to construct cloth and to create surface treatments that act as important structural details in my textiles and work. I employ artisanal hand dyeing and screen printing methods using environmentally friendly processes that encourages my abiliity to use and reuse as I go. Rather than hiding the stitching, I intentionally design, construct and reconstruct all my textiles and forms using modes of applications where the visible mend becomes not only a structural aesthetic detail but it is a reminder of what this material has undergone.
The marks left behind from the intentional seaming or stitching is much like that of a scar left behind after we have injured ourselves. As painful as it is to witness or experience pain associated with this wound, visible mending offering a way to heal in ways that offers a strength that didn't exist before. Similar to how the Japanese practiced the art of kintsugi (the mending of broken pottery using gold to visibly repair) I view visible mending as an act of compassion towards our materials. Through this we insert value and create identity that leads us towards an embodied experience resulting in the creation of story. This story speaks to the identity of the new textile being formed to that of the identity of the form it will eventually transition into.
The value of visible mending in today's industry is meant to not just show the history of the cloth but it is about how we view materials and the tools used in their creation. In the age of obsolescence and fast fashion it is impossible to embody an experience with these textiles and clothing because they either don't last long enough or are so ill fitting that we don't even bother to wear them. It is not until either they end up at the thrift store or the savvy DIYer empowers themselves to upcycle their wares. But that isn't for everyone. Which brought me to these questions.
How can we create new textiles, garments and accessories that encourages the consumer to embody an experience with their clothing using hand and industrial processes? What is my role as a maker in assisting in creating such a relationships or experience ? How can visibly mended textiles tell a story? What is the value of this story and how can it inform manufacturing today and in the future?
Visible mending is not just applied to the material in my research and practice as it looks towards the bigger picture. I am interested in creating alternative routes in how we produce and consume in a way that not just respectful to the environment but is a combination of history, craft and production. When we (re)imagine what we think is broken we can envision it's raisons d'etres in the present. Just because it may no longer serve its purpose in its original form does not mean it cannot continue to perform a role or function as a tool for creation and production.
Some may say that visible mending sounds like a philosophy and perhaps it very may well be. However, at this point I am deeply invested in exploring how visible mending will shape and inform my practice I works towards creating recycled yarns and knit textiles in a facility surrounded by obsolescent misfits left behind by an industry who didn't see the value in (re)imagination.
The Mending Wall, 2012
photography: Katherine Soucie, Rob Matharu
To view more work and textile research by Katherine Soucie please visit: www.katherinesoucie.com
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