A recent article in the New York Times, Fashion Tries on Zero Waste Design by Stephanie Rosenbloom, covers the notion of Zero Waste clothing design. The article states that fifteen to twenty percent of today’s fabric winds up in our landfills because it is cheaper to throw away the scraps rather than recycle them. To combat this, fashion schools are incorporating the idea of using all of the pieces of cloth to make garments, leaving nothing to waste.
The concept of recycling and reusing what others would view as trash is central to the Steampunk movement and Steampunk makers. Its interesting to observe the practices we have been employing for years as independent artists now being taught in design schools to cut down on waste.
This is a good example of how the green aspect of Steampunk philosophy is becoming mainstream. I don’t have the feeling of revulsion that swept over me with regard to the Disney collectibles, though both are using aspects of Steampunk in their own ventures. Here’s the difference: where Disney just manipulates the aesthetic without regard for its founding philosophy in the attempt to make money, design schools that use our methods to lower the impact of clothing designers upon our earth are working in conjunction with the true spirit of Steampunk.