In this, the third of three interviews, Shaun Robertson, Cape Peninsula University of Technology fashion graduate, talks about his work. His collection at the CPUT graduate show last year was one of the collections, which indicated a major shift from the previous year. Many of the students showed in their work an attention to sustainability and expressed the need for the fashion industry to change. I spoke to three students (see links to other interviews below). Shaun used upcycling methods for his final year collection.

Shaun Robertson is a fashion graduate at Cape Peninsula University of technology who focussed on upcycling as a sustainable method in his fashion collection

Tell me about your collection?

Fast fashion production methods, which pollute and deplete the environment, have indoctrinated consumers. Society has lost touch with any sentimental value attached to a particular garment and people don’t know what can be done to garments that are not useful to them anymore. Upcycling methods allow me the opportunity to make the fashion consumer aware of sustainable options. Upcycling is the process of creating something new from something old and promotes sustainability in fashion and possibly influences the purchasing ways of the consumer.

Shaun Robertson is a fashion graduate at Cape Peninsula University of technology who focussed on upcycling as a sustainable method in his fashion collection

From where do you source fabrics?

All of the fabrics used in my collection were donated by family and friends and include discarded pants, kimonos, kids dresses and scarves. I also made use of deadstock fabric (leftover fabric discarded by mills and factories) and mock-ups that I’ve collected throughout my studies in fashion design at CPUT.

Why do you think sustainability is important?

Our fast-paced society is based on a culture of wasteful consumption. Fast fashion and the disposal of garments are major problems affecting the environment as well as the mindsets of people as they are led to believe that they constantly need to be instantly gratified with the latest trending fashion items. Bringing it back home, in terms of our water crisis, many people don’t realise how much water is wasted throughout the production of cotton as well as the dyeing processes of fabrics. In order for us to preserve the already depleting natural resources left for future generations, education is needed so that consumers change their purchasing patterns to favour sustainable ways of living.

Do you think the fashion industry is prepared to make the changes it needs to? 

Yes, awareness has led to the growth of the slow fashion movement and environmentally friendly clothing. What does need to happen though, is to make these options available to the broader market including the lower-middle class. Price points need to be changed as many consumers of fast-fashion are under the impression that eco-friendly clothing is expensive and only appeals to a particular target market, the rich. To some degree, this is true. However, small changes, such as shopping at second-hand stores, which is quite affordable, can promote a sustainable life style.

From where do you shop for clothes?

I have a passion for second-hand stores, bric-a-brac shops and markets. These are the places from where I choose to buy my clothing as there is always something eye-catching and unique that can be found.

What are you doing next year?

I am going to explore different creative channels such as photography and illustration to promote awareness of slow fashion and eco-friendly ways of living, anything that promotes sustainability.

Part One: 5 minutes with eco-fashion graduate Roxanne Kimber-Leigh Louw 

Part Two: 5 minutes with eco-fashion graduate Erin Hooper 

Photo credits: Supplied