How TILL: bFt is creating Climate Couture

The sky above Lower Manhattan, where thousands of young people converged for the Global Climate Strike, September 20, 2019. Millions of people across 185 countries participated in communities around the world, making it the largest climate protest i…

The sky above Lower Manhattan, where thousands of young people converged for the Global Climate Strike, September 20, 2019. Millions of people across 185 countries participated in communities around the world, making it the largest climate protest in history. Photo: Jane Philbrick

Editors Note: We believe change can begin with the small steps and locally. This is what TILL does successfully on so many different levels. Last spring we wrote about their first bioFASHIONtech Summit. Their latest venture? A fashion movement they’re calling Climate Couture which is the creation of custom clothing with varying levels of cost/client participation. This is a great example of a way forward in fashion (not “the fashion industry”) that is in harmony with the planet and allows for creativity. Jane Philbrick, artist and founder of TILL shares all the deets below.

Fresh off the success of Yimin Deng’s Community Studio capsule collection, designed and produced on site at TILL: bFt LAB @Stamford Town Center, TILL: bioFASHIONtech is introducing Climate Couture, the first of four new labels in our upcycle fashion line with three different process-based options: In Trim, Tandem and Basics.

Sketches for Client Louise Washer

Sketches for Client Louise Washer

In Trim client does not make the garment but is guided through and participates in the process, from design consultation to upcycled textile selection to garment construction.
o   “In Trim” is submarine terminology for a vessel in vital neutral buoyancy
o Bespoke garments for the 21st century, underscoring the vital balance of designer-garment-client-environment
o   Couture model: in-house design consultation and fittings
o   Each garment includes a textile profile specifying:
§  material analysis of garment textile(s)
§  ownership history of garment textile(s)
o   Each garment leaves TILL: bFt LAB with a maintenance best practice label
Price: $1250

Tandem client co-produces the garment with designer/design associate, with scope of garment customized to client skill; i.e., a client may already sew and is looking to better understand design, another client may not know how to sew and is looking to better understand how design translates into a real garment.

o   In-LAB design consultation and fittings with designer
o   In-LAB co-production with design associate, overseeen by designer
o   Textile profile support with design associate, overseen by designer
o   Each garment leaves TILL: bFt LAB with a maintenance best practice label
Price: $500

Basics client produces the garment with designer/design associate, working from a set template of garments
o   Selection of one of five garments: trousers, skirt, dress, jacket or shirt
o   In-LAB design consultation and fittings with design associate
o   In-LAB production with design associate, overseen by designer
o   Textile profile support with design associate, overseen by designer
o   Each garment leaves TILL: bFt LAB with a maintenance best practice label to minimize environmental impact of garment
Price: $125

Making new garments from reclaimed fabrics (“upcycling”) diverts textile waste from overburdened landfills while reducing demand for increasingly scarce virgin materials. Upcycling helps decarbonize fashion by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions generated in new textile production, an urgent priority for our fast-warming planet.

Climate Couture’s client-focused design and local manufacturing restores vital balance to the designer-garment-community-environment relationship value engineered out of mainstream fashion production and retail.
We are often told “bold action” is needed to address the climate crisis. We respectfully disagree. Basic common sense is sufficient start: just don’t buy that s**t.

“You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.”

— R. Buckminster Fuller

With this practical mindset, we are delighted to introduce four locally based Climate Couture clients in profiles below. Each narrates their own perspective on fashion’s climate revolution.


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Ab Igram

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Occupation: Finance/banking/leveraged finance
Title: Managing Director, Head of Franchise, Food & Beverage
Lives: Fairfield, Connecticut
How did you become involved in Climate Couture? I met Jane [Philbrick, TILL artist founder] and learned of the project and exciting work.
What garment are you making? Yimin is making a jacket.
Why did you choose to make this garment? It sounded like a wonderful addition to my wardrobe.
What is your skill level in garment making? No experience.
What is your favorite article of clothing? A suede jacket from Spain that was a gift from my daughter, patterned pants that a clothier recommended that I would not have selected on my own but he gave me the confidence to wear!
Who is your style icon? Several old school: Giorgio Armani, Cary Grant, Paul Newman. Recent: (not sure how to define icon but…): John Legend, Lebron James, Ryan Gosling, Jeff Goldblum, Daniel Craig, George Clooney.
What are you reading? Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes (2019) by Dana Thomas, The Children (1999) by David Halberstam, and Good Leaders Ask Great Questions (2016) by John C. Maxwell.



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Henry Kim &Yunjo Lee

HENRY KIM
Occupation: 
Artist
Title: Founder, Nowbyte, a creative design company
Lives: Redding, Connecticut
How did you become involved in Climate Couture? After hearing about bioFASHIONtech, I was curious to learn about repurposing household waste.
What garment are you making? A jacket.
Why did you choose to make this garment? I’m adapting my favorite design.
What is your skill level in garment making? Beginner, I have never used a sewing machine before.
What is your favorite article of clothing? Don’t have one.
Who is your style icon? Don’t have one.
What are you reading? What Artists Do (2018) by Leonard Koren.

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YUNJO LEE
Occupation:
 Jewelry designer
Title: Founder, Henry & Hodu, a niche fine jewelry brand
Lives: Redding, Connecticut
How did you become involved in Climate Couture? After learning about both the philosophy and practicality of the workshop, I was curious to develop some basic skills for repurposing unused garments.
What garment are you making? A two-piece dress.
Why did you choose to make this garment? It is my favorite silhouette, having both casual and formal qualities.
What is your skill level in garment making? Beginner, never sewed before.
What is your favorite article of clothing? A Fendi knee-length, knitted dress that I have favored for years. I would like to remake the dress in a longer, ankle length in a few colors.
Who is your style icon? Audrey Hepburn.
What are you reading? The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (2009 [Swedish], 2012 [English]) by Jonas Jonasson.



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Louise Washer

Occupation: Environmentalist
Title: President, Norwalk River Watershed Association, and member of the Steering Committee for the Pollinator Pathway
Lives: Norwalk, Connecticut
How did you become involved in Climate Couture? I came to be involved through working with TILL to address the brownfield at the G&B wire mill in Redding because the Norwalk River runs through the area. Cleaning up and protecting the river is the primary objective of the Norwalk River Watershed Association. I see this Climate Couture project as a way to raise awareness about the environmental emergencies we face and involve the community in Redding in action to address them. The goal for me is to find ways to work together to restore health to the soil, water, and air we all share.
What garment are you making? I am making a fabulous light-weight winter jacket.
Why did you choose to make this garment? I want something I can add to whatever I happen to be wearing to dress it up and let me quickly go out feeling warm and looking cool.
What is your skill level in garment making? Zero. I feel empowered already.
What is your favorite article of clothing? I have a loose linen jacket that I add to everything in the summer and I wanted a winter version of that piece.
Who is your style icon? My style icon right now is Yimin Deng. I am ready to be a disciple.
What are you reading? I am reading The Testaments (2019) by Margaret Atwood but also delving into Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, published in 1977, but is still the botanist’s bible. I am discovering the value of understanding pre-internet plant identification methods. I am pursuing a botany certificate at the New York Botanical Gardens to help me with riverbank restoration projects and my work on the Pollinator Pathway Project, which is sweeping across Connecticut and New York. This is one of my textbooks.


by Jane Philbrick Jane is an artist, educator, and writer and one of the principals of TILL and the bFt LAB, an ecological fashion incubator. Her large-scale installations and sculpture range in media from ultrasound and rammed earth to magnetic levitation and found space. She works in collaboration across disciplines in science and engineering, architecture, music, finance, fashion, and performance.

Photo credits:

  • Ab Igram photos: Jihyeong Han

  • Henry Kim + Yunjo Lee photo: Jane Philbrick

  • Louise Washer photo: Jane Philbrick