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Famous Sustainable Textile Designers

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Making textiles can be dirty business. Today, some textile designers strive to create textiles that are friendlier to the environment. In this lesson, learn about famous sustainable textile designers.

Sustainability and Textiles

We're surrounded by textiles, which is just a general term for cloths and other types of manufactured fabrics. We use them in our kitchens, wear them, and sleep in them. But have you ever thought about what all those textiles mean to the environment?

Making textiles can be a dirty business. Textile manufacturing uses lots of water, and often involves harmful chemicals and other polluting agents. Dyeing textiles to get the vivid colors we love can also cause problems. The people who work in textile factories are exposed to these chemicals as they do their jobs, and they often work for very low wages.

Textiles can be dyed with harmful substances
colorful silks

Today people are trying to find better ways to make and design textiles, creating processes and products that are friendlier both to the environment and to people working in the industry, making workplaces less harmful and developing ways for textile makers to have a better living wage. Textiles created with such ideas in mind are called sustainable textiles.

Designing Sustainable Textiles

One group of people who work with textiles are textile designers. A textile designer is a person who creates the look and feel of textiles. Their tasks might include deciding what processes to use to create a desired texture, and/or what types of designs or patterns adorn textile surfaces. So sustainable textile designers create textiles that take environmental issues into account. They might work with organic cottons, grown without fertilizers and pesticides. Or they might create woven fabrics with synthetic fibers made from non-petroleum based substances. They might also prefer to use recycled or cast-off materials, which prevents those materials from ending up in a landfill.

Sustainable textiles are those made using less harmful methods and fewer chemicals during their processing
textiles in India

Let's learn more about several famous sustainable textile designers.

Famous Sustainable Textile Designers

Faustine Steinmetz

Award-winning textile and fashion designer Faustine Steinmetz was interested in textiles from a young age. As a child, she cut apart her own jeans and made them into all sorts of things, and she taught herself to weave thanks to YouTube videos.

Steinmetz later trained at Central Saint Martins in the UK. Today she's based in her London studio, where she uses cast-off denim, thrift shop materials and hand-woven items to make non-mass-produced fashions. Steinmetz also spins, weaves and dyes materials in her shop to create hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind high fashion with a denim twist. She also makes some of her textiles in conjunction with a women's craft collective in Burkina Faso. Using traditional West African looms, they weave fabric for Steinmetz's designs and earn an income in the process.

Katie Jones

London-based designer Katie Jones also studied at Central Saint Martins, where she received her MA in fashion knitwear. Jones uses surplus textiles and processes like knitting and crocheting to create textiles and playful, colorful clothing. By the way, knitting and crocheting are textile-making processes that use two large needles to loop and knot one continual thread or yarn.

Jones incorporates cast-off and recycled materials and further embellishes them with embroidery and hand-dyeing. She's dedicated to reusing and not wasting materials, and sustainable practices are a strong motivator behind her colorful, sometimes zany style.

Jones enjoys playing with color and texture, and also wants to spread the joy of knitting. She conducts her own workshops and has an area on her website where customers can buy and download patterns to make their own bright knitted objects.

Amandah Andersson

Swedish designer Amandah Andersson has established a name for herself with her brand AMA AWE, focused on sustainable textiles and fashion. Andersson graduated with a fashion design degree from Beckmans College of Design in Sweden. Today, she's based in Stockholm.

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