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Refashion Plastic

About

It’s Plastic Free July and it’s time to refashion plastic! For this year’s #PlasticFreeMzansi campaign we’ve collaborated with five designers who have made garments and accessories from plastic waste. These items are now in a surprise basket travelling to five personalities (one per week of July) who will re-wear and style these garments as they wish.

We understand waste to be a design flaw, and believe that pollution and waste should be designed out of systems. Illustrating circular design, the designers VIVIERS Studio, Our Workshop, One I AM, Not Just a Comb and Crystal Birch have given plastic the value it deserves.

We have adapted the Australian Plastic Free July campaign and called it #PlasticFreeMzansi which is an annual media campaign focused on eliminating plastic waste. Plastic waste has become a symbol of the careless relationships we have with our stuff, each other and the environment. These relationships are now broken and we want to build new ones. We encourage people to be more aware of their use of plastic, and to work on solutions with communities, retailers and manufacturers. To realise this, we do beach clean-ups, inspire conscious consumer choices and drive circular design (reduce, reuse, recycle and repair).

We hope this basket of surprises brings you hope, and inspires circular design. Baskets will be opened on 1 July, 8 July, 15 July, 22 July and 30 July. Keep an eye on your social media feeds for #refashionplastic #plasticfreemzansi #circulardesign

To help fund our Plastic Upcycling Initiative visit here.

About the garments

The five garments include an upcycled plastic utilitarian and protective outer-wear garment that was made to be worn during the Covid-19 pandemic and that will remain relevant as a water-resistant raincoat once the pandemic has passed. The trench coat, designed by Lezanne Viviers of VIVIERS Studio is easily wiped and sanitised. Viviers used light-blue disposable medical fabric, woven plastic bags,  U-Cook Ziplock bags and computer packaging. Double welt seams strengthen and support the plastic and help keep germs out. Functional utility flaps with easy closures allow for essential accessories like cell phones and car keys. 

Onesimo Bam, designer and artist and founder of One I Am made a bag from a shopping bag and recycled black bags which he cut into strips and weaved. “The pattern happened organically. I included a personal message from [international trend forecaster] Li Edelkoort because it was appropriate for the current times we are living in”. 

Not Just A Comb did several experiments with house-hold plastics before settling on a credit card lanyard that facilitates a touch-free payment system for grocery stores, coffee shops, or booksellers. The aim was to understand the composition of ‘waste’ and find innovative and economical ways to scale production and manufacturing processes.  “One of the alarming conclusions of this project was realising the amount of plastic waste that my household is responsible for producing,” says Hamzeh Alfarahneh, the founder of Not Just A Comb. “Refashion Plastic has opened my eyes to the potential of using plastic waste as components for design.” 

With Refashion Plastic, Crystal Birch launches Happy Hats, a collection of upcycled polyester hats. For this project she has created two hats from 100% polyester fabric, one from an old silver dress from her wardrobe and another from a faux fur jacket. She says, “By creating new garments out of old plastic ones I have extended the lifespan of discarded clothing. People will get excited to wear an item, which could even come out of their own wardrobe.”

Our Workshop used recycled plastic strapping to create a basket that allows air to flow through it, and that is easily cleaned and sterilized. Baskets are an ancient craft tradition and are multi-functional. This basket reimagines this tradition using recycled waste.

About the designers

Lezanne Viviers of VIVIERS Studio

VIVIERS is a conceptual brand focused on sustainable artistic practice, working with artisans to create quality items that are intended to last. Clothing is intended to allow wearers to be their radical selves. It offers individuals a unique experience in building their wardrobes of timeless, heirloom pieces.      

Our Workshop

Based in the Cape Town township Langa, Our Workshop is primarily a space for the community to make, fix and share things. It is open to anybody who likes to make things and who would like to spend time in and share in a creative environment. This space is artist-led and managed by volunteers and members, who contribute time and various skills to keep the studio open and operating. They work primarily with waste. 

Not Just A Comb

Established in November 2017, Not Just A Comb is part design project, part outreach program, working with NGOs and nonprofits in South Africa that work exclusively with women artisans providing them sustainable income opportunities. Our mission is to instil fun, colour, and creativity one ounce at a time. We strive towards bringing together: people, cultures, art, heritage, and savoir-faire from all around the globe to create one platform that converses with the world via a common visual language of joy, love, and diversity. Our goal is to create meaningful objets d’art that speak to our desire for beauty and connection. We are inspired by the communities of women that act as custodians of sacred know-how and dedicate most of our resources to enabling those women to pursue their passions.

One I AM 

Onesimo Bam, founder of One I AM, is a surface designer from the Eastern Cape. His brand, One I AM, looks beyond beauty; creating work that holds meaning in the marriage between textiles, paint, poetry and music. His past projects include a series of kimonos, created in collaboration with various artists. He particularly thrives on collaboration and the exchange of vision, energy and skills.

Crystal Birch 

Not one to follow the status quo, Crystal decided to skip the conventional fashion design route and go straight to the top (hat). Now a maverick milliner, whose irreverent designs of classic hats have become beloved adornments on the heads of South Africa’s fashion conscious, Crystal Birch studied fashion design at Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion in Stellenbosch. She spent time in London honing her skills under the guidance of Noel Stewart and Piers Atkinson, arguably two of Europe’s finest talents in the art of hat-making. 

Art Direction 

Louw Kotze

Leading art director and stylist, Louw organised, conceptualised and styled an editorial for mainstream media which will be published nationally on 12 July. He has generously offered his advice and skills to the project. Louw’s grasp of the concept, creativity and attention has been an invaluable contribution to this project. 

Campaign co-ordinators 

Jackie May of Twyg

Jackie is the founder and director of Twyg, a not-for-profit company that inspires and supports a modern, eco-conscious and forward-thinking lifestyle. The organisation creates content, experiences and campaigns about fashion, food and places that don’t harm the planet nor people. It collaborates with like-minded organisations that inspire people to make sustainable, inclusive and ethical lifestyle choices. Contact: [email protected] @twygmag

Yvonne Brecher of Biru 

Yvonne is a concept builder for Biru Experiments which seeks meaningful collaborations to reach beyond the accepted norm and challenge everyday living scenarios. The creative process is focused on research, sustainability, socio-economy and improving quality of life. Contact: [email protected] @biru_experiments. 

Aaniyah Omardien of The Beach Co-op 

Aaniyah is the founder and director of The Beach Co-op, a not-for-profit company on a mission to eliminate, reuse, redesign and recycle single-use plastic, which often lands up in our oceans and on our beaches. The organisation works with single-use plastics at all points of the value chain, to: remove them from the beach; refuse them when making purchases; work with brands and companies who want to use less plastic; and encourage manufacturers to design plastic packaging with a circular economy in mind.  Contact: [email protected] @thebeachco_op

About #PlasticFreeMzansi

We have adapted the Australian Plastic Free July campaign and called it #PlasticFreeMzansi. It is an annual media campaign focussed on eliminating plastic waste. Plastic waste has become a symbol of the careless relationships we have with our stuff, each other and the environment. These relationships are now broken and we want to build new ones.  We encourage people to be more aware of their use of plastic, and to work on solutions with communities, retailers and manufacturers. To realise this, we do beach clean-ups, inspire conscious consumer choices and drive circular design (reduce, reuse, recycle and repair). 

  • The designers had Covid-19 and safety at the top of their minds throughout the process. We took every precaution to create and sanitise the between each opening. 

Our work is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 12, which aims to ensure sustainable consumption and production. Read More