Many things can change over the course of one year. At the Cape Peninsula University of Technology both students and staff had a particularly tough 2017 grappling with #feesmustfall. The vice-chancellor Prins Nevhutalu resigned after being found guilty of gross misconduct this year. The campus was under military guard and enclosed with rolls of barbed wire. Some lectures took place at staff homes. Then the end of the year happened and graduate shows took place. I attended the fashion show and noticed something very interesting. In a year, the move to more sustainable fashion practices was considerable. At last’s year’s graduate fashion show, I didn’t notice any attention paid to sustainability. This year many of the students acknowledged in their work the need for the fashion industry to change. I spoke to three of the students. This is the first of the three interviews.

Roxanne Kimber-Leigh Louw

Roxanne Louw is a fashion graduate at the Cape Peninsula University for Technology

Roxanne, a fourth year fashion graduate, created Yolk, a brand that aspires to be sustainable and ethical while creating awareness. She chose the sustainable route because of the knowledge she has gained during her four years of studying fashion design. “I (and many others) am aware of the negative impact the fashion industry has on the environment.” This has not changed her decision to be in fashion, but rather she has decided to help contribute sustainably and design with a purpose. “In my most recent collection, I use natural fabrics, dye my fabrics, made small productions and collaborated locally,” says Roxanne.

For her sustainable design to be honest too, she made the design process as transparent as she could. But there were challenges. “I have printed and dyed my own fabrics which is expensive and slow fashion is a slow process. But it is so much more valuable in the end,” says Roxanne.

Roxanne tried to use as much natural fabric as possible. “My collection mostly consists of cotton and muslin which I had dyed. I purchased most of the fabric from Fabric City in Cape Town. The rest was upcycled from an old curtain and from leftover fabric in my cupboard,” says Roxanne. The dying was done sustainably using eco-friendly inks.

Roxanne Louw is at the Cape Peninsula University for Technology

Roxanne feels positive about the sustainable fashion movement. Sustainable fashion design is growing and there is an on-going and growing awareness in design. She also says that bigger companies are taking up sustainable initiatives and there is great support from today’s modern consumer.

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

Part Three: 5 minutes with upcycle-fashion graduate Shaun Robertson

Photo credits: Supplied