Last spring, ReteNEMA, within the European Centrinno project, collaborated with the Caterina da Siena Institute to involve 28 of their students in the expanding services within cities transitioning towards a circular economy. The participants voluntarily applied to be part of a school-to-work alternation, a learning method that involves alternating periods of study in schools with periods of practical training in companies or external institutions to apply their new skills in a real work context.
The main objective of the experience was to rethink the repair process of second hand clothing to reflect upon the optimizing and enhancing the processes which usually are necessarily done by hand.
The students from the Caterina da Siena Institute worked in interdisciplinary groups sharing skills from both fashion and graphic design, to create original repair concepts incorporating elements of creativity and design.
The challenge was to make the repaired garments unique and attractive, and to build replicable models, with low environmental impact and enhanced by the use of digital manufacturing technologies.
Collaboration with Humana Vintage and use of deadstock fabrics.
To make this experience possible, the project collaborated with Humana Vintage, which provided the participants with a selection of garments to repair, thus offering a wide range of material types and intervention needs, expanding their understanding of fashion and driving the creative process.
In addition to repairing the garments, students were encouraged to develop a genuine repair concept that could be replicable. Six projects emerged, each accompanied by a presentation with mood boards, technical drawings, brand development, and label design.
The Rosecycling group developed a series of digitally reproducible roses thanks to laser cutting, applicable to areas of clothing characterized by holes or tears; the Corpus Humana group worked on a collection of patches and accessories in the shapes of body parts made with laser cutting of deadstock textiles and applied in specific areas of the garments; the D-Ripped group was inspired by the concept of “ripped denim,” combining two or more defective clothing items to create multifunctional outfits; the Little Things group drew inspiration from the idea of fine-line tattoos, creating both embroidered and laser-cut patches to be used to cover garment defects, much like one might do to cover aesthetic skin blemishes; the Constellation group used embroidery techniques to create patches inspired by constellations in the sky; the Quoto Queens group used contemporary slang phrases to create laser-cut patches expressing the sentiments of their generation.
A significant moment of this experience was the exhibition of prototypes created by the students, both at Base Milano, the cultural and creative center headquarters of the project, and at a Humana store on via de Amicis, where they were also guests of the recently inaugurated repair area.
In these public contexts, they presented their garments, receiving feedback and encouragement for their creations. It was also an opportunity to raise public awareness about the importance of repair and conscious consumption.
This experience has certainly opened up new career perspectives for the involved students, inspiring them to continue exploring the world of creative repair and supporting the importance of sustainability in fashion.