This week’s GFF Talent is Jogaile Zairyte, a Fashion and Textile Design graduate from the University of Portsmouth. Jogaile’s final collection, inspired by Japanese culture, is an exploration of zero-waste design concepts. Having experimented with natural dyes, repairing and hand stitching, Joagaile’s collection aims to show how sustainable techniques can — and need to be — incorporated into the fashion system to safeguard its future.

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What was the starting point of inspiration for your final project?

Japanese culture and the armour of the samurai. I have always admired the samurai and their beliefs. The title of my collection, ‘Makoto’, means honesty, being true to yourself and your own actions. In samurai terms, warriors would complete their tasks fully with honour and honesty, they needed not to ‘promise’ as speaking and doing are the same action, and this ideology inspired me greatly to create a 100% sustainable collection.

How has it evolved from your initial ideas and what have you learnt along the way?

I created a four outfit sustainable collection. The outfits are made up of a coat, dungarees, 2 pairs of trousers, a pair of shorts, five tops and three vests. My collection is based around creating zero waste. My first idea was to create garments inspired by samurai armour, which is mostly made up of rectangular pieces. This inspired me to create a collection made from basic geometrical shapes, and tested me to see how far I could get in the design process only using these shapes.

Another important aspect of the collection is the use of natural dyes. I experimented heavily with various dyes, such as turmeric, madder elderberries, avocado stones, etc., to see what colours would combine and gel together.

Along the way I learned many things about sustainability,  zero waste, natural dyes and fabrics. I gained knowledge about handicraft techniques, such as Sashiko stitching, which is a way of reinforcing fabrics that are torn and need mending, it is also used to decorate textiles to make them unique. 

I learned that improving my organisational skills was key, because the whole collection was handcrafted, I had to be very strict with my time to ensure everything would be completed before the deadline. I made and stuck to a schedule, which is an invaluable thing for a fashion student to have! 

What is the message behind your project that you want people to take away?

I want to show people that sustainable fashion is not a pretentious movement, it is an important one that will tackle not only the abhorrent environmental issues, such as water shortages and textile waste, but also social issues for fashion workers, as having sustainable work ethics will greatly improve their quality of life. Sustainable fashion also happens to be very colourful and fun!

I want to prove that natural dyes can be an integral part of the fashion industry, and that sustainable fashion has the power to improve and build upon the world, not destroy it. Fashion is supposed to make you feel happiness, not guilt.

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What is your plan once you finish your BA?

To work in a sustainable fashion industry, and to maybe create my own sustainable brand. I will continue to learn more about the vast amounts of handicraft techniques which embody different cultures. I also will continue to research natural dyeing processes and zero waste methods, and experiment with up-cycled materials to apply them to my designs. I have always loved handcrafted work, and I will continue to embrace that love and share it with the world.