To make sustainability profitable, merging two separate industries, textiles and fashion, into one streamlined process that will reduce material waste and shorten supply chains.
This project re-imagines how clothes are made by creating fully fashioned, seamless woven garments engineered on the loom rather than through a cut & sew manufacturing process, resulting in reduced material waste, resource usage, shortened supply chains and ultimately tackling sustainability. Access to industrial jacquard looms, CAD programs, and technicians will allow the designer to produce manufacture-ready prototypes and a system to duplicate the process. This project focuses on trousers at this stage. The project’s angle is to focus on scalability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness by using machines already in the industry.
LoomState 3D Woven Garment has been an adventure years in the making. It started with the intention of finding solutions to the daunting environmental and economic impacts of the fashion industry by using design thinking applied to textile weaving. Starting from the premise that waste is just a design flaw, I looked at where textile weaving could limit waste and inefficiency to create economic incentives for sustainability. The journey began with a dissertation on the lifecycle of a humble cotton T-shirt. Following the garment from the growing of the fibre, to manufacture, to the labor involved at each step, to the selling, all the way through to a t-shirt’s afterlife. It became clear that the fashion industry is an ecosystem of complex, opaque supply chains, unintended consequences, inefficiency, abuse, and waste. Any solution needed to consider the knock on effect to the whole fashion system. Around this time I went to the Textile Institute World Conference in Leeds, UK to see a demonstration of a state-of-the art Mageba 3D Weaving machine. There was something magical about being able to weave in multiple dimensions. The ability to add another weft direction opened a whole new realm of possibilities for me. That’s when it clicked; mulit- layer weaving techniques could theoretically weave a fully fashioned garment in one go. Loom-State: 3D Woven Garments is inspired by the possibilities of new technology to sustainably optimise the way we produce clothes and to design out some of the most harmful effects on people, planet, and profit. Loom-State weaves the structure and form of a trouser using multi-layer techniques, creating a fully-fashioned garment in one step. No more cut & sew off-cut waste.
THE BIRTH OF THE PROJECT
This project was fuelled by a frustration with the fashion industry’s flawed incentive structures, inefficient supply chains and entrenched processes that are hurting our planet, our people, and our companies. The industry’s outdated conventions of design, production, and consumption practices has become a leviathan that feels impossible to tame but we a duty to start somewhere. The current crisis we are living in just further proves we need systemic change. Complex supply chains have become fragile and vulnerable, demanding that we rethink the future of how goods and services are produced and move around our world. On a good year, long lead times mean the wrong items get produced only to end up in landfills because of slow adaptability to consumer demand. Complex global supply chains are not only inefficient, unsustainable, and exacerbate social and labour inequality, but in a crisis, are vulnerable to breakdown. The resulting interruption to manufacturing and retail from increased climate change and crisis events has a severe economic and social impact. A garment production system that allows for lower infrastructure costs, easy adoption, faster production times, and less waste, means we can start to localise our production chains because its cost effective to do so.
At the same time, the reduction in resource usage, transportation, overproduction, and waste throughout is good for the planet. Win – Win. In a traditional cut & sew manufacturing system, our clothes go through an overly complex web of supply chains, incorporating a whole network of suppliers, A fashion brand might think that they only have 1,000 to 2,000 suppliers. In reality, they have 20,000 to 50,000 when counting all the sub-suppliers. This makes it extremely difficult for brands to effectively map their supply chain because there are too many third parties involved. Bolts of fabric are made in one place, clothes are cut from a long piece of fabric creating cut-off waste using often exploited labor, garments are sewn by a complex conveyor belt of human labour and machines, to be sold in markets far from consumers and demand. Loom-State drastically simplifies manufacturing, shortens the supply chain, reduces the product time-to-market, lends itself to an agile made-to-order model or small-batch production cycle, and reduces overproduction and overstock. Loom-State requires less infrastructure and uses existing loom technology, which means it’s more cost effective to manufacture locally, around the consumer base, to reduce demand uncertainty. Loom- State simplifies the supply chain making full transparency possible.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Loom-State began with research into whole garment weaving trousers. Engineering trousers on the loom seemed like a good place to start because solving for a trouser’s complex functional details, fit issues, and waistband closures would be key to structuring other garments down the line. The Loom-State trouser was developed in 2020 while quarantining on a ranch. There’s an irony to working on a project about automation, technology, and efficiency out in the middle of nowhere, where the wifi depends on the weather. The hard wearing clothes needed for the manual labor to run a ranch inspired the creative decisions. In taking a design direction with the trouser, there was something iconic about referencing a wardrobe staple like denim jeans with its workwear roots and design traditions. The tension in exploring automation technology to produce garments that nod to work-wear produced interesting design outcomes. What does utility mean in an automated future? The Loom-State trouser has gone through various development iterations. With 3D woven garments, every design decision affects the whole prototype outcome. For example, just having a working pocket means taking the whole garment into consideration and creating a multi-layered engineered solution in the fabric weaving stage to accommodate for that design element. Form really does follow function in this case, because the form is literally interwoven with its function. It’s definitely a new and exciting way of looking at garment construction
Loom-State partnered with EEexclusives, a leading Jacquard manufacturer to leverage their specialised Jacquard looms and technical skill on the project. EEexclusives translated the Loom-State research and development into a concept trouser, while allowing Loom-State the space to experiment and problem solve along the way.
Loom-State’s scalable, functioning 3D woven trouser prototype, will provide the research foundation to expand to other garments, and ultimately an entire garment production system. Loom-State will grow the collection to basic styles of T-shirts, chemises, dresses, skirts, jackets, and coats. Ultimately, creating a catalogue of clothing with the capability to adjust for unique design features – from design silhouette, pocket shape and variation, to closures and finishing, to colour variation. Loom-State ultimately hopes that it will encourage on demand production, and near-shoring with a circular business model. At every stage, this project commits itself to the positive outcomes for people, planet, profit. Currently Weffan Studios, the creator of Loom-State, is looking for investment to grow the team, produce the proof-of-concept, and develop a garment production system.
Collaboration within this project has been vital. Without the specialised skills and knowledge of the team, Loom-State wouldn’t have happened. Loom-State 3D woven garments improve efficiency, transparency, and sustainability in clothing manufacturing.