How Parsons MFA Students are Utilizing Eco-Friendly Nylon to Redesign Products

Parsons Textile MFA students collaborated with ECONYL to push the boundaries of materiality.

We all know that when it comes to fashion and sustainability less is more. Less resources used. Less tossed into landfills. And yet our desire for more doesn’t go away and fashion companies aren’t interested in stopping either.

So one thing we’re interested in, is how new materials can help with this. One that’s caught our eye is Econyl. A nylon by the Italian brand Aqaufil that’s created from transforming discarded fishing nets into new material. Thus not using any new resources (read oil!) and much less energy –but with the strength of traditional nylon. Many of our favorite sustainable swimsuit brands use it in their production but there’s always new ways to push materiality.

Aquafil recently partnered with students from the MFA Textiles program at Parsons School of Design. The assignment was simply to create a piece – accessory, clothing, furniture, textile – using ECONYL® regenerative nylon that could be disassembled and recycled at the end of its original use. We were amazed by the immense talent and creativity of these students, and are thrilled to share a selection of their designs and perspectives. Below are a few highlights

Our particular program is engaged with sustainability, social justice, well-being, health and beauty in artistic design. Working with a brand focused on environmental impact was a perfect fit for these students in all the various professional backgrounds they represent: fashion design, fine arts, and interior design.
–Preethi Gopinath, Program Director for MFA Textiles at Parsons

Footwear Product, Xinyu Wang

Using knitted ECONYL® yarn, Xinyu employed the Japanese hand weaving technique called Zori to create these sandals. This technique uses only the body as tools so the maker gets a deeper connection with materials. Xinyu designed the shoe shape based on the concept that nature is supporting and relying on us at the same time. 

Lighting Product, Hannah Kim

“I was very inspired by the recycling of ocean waste and wanted to create a knitted sculpture wave that represents where ECONYL® fibers once came from,” shared Hannah. “By integrating LEDs and infrared sensors into my knitted sculptures I was able to create a lamp that can change colors based on the user’s preferences. When the lamp is activated, the LEDs replicate what it would look like when the moon shines onto the ocean.”

Natural Dyeing, Jason Greenberg

Through his exploration, Jason discovered that the ECONYL® yarn responds beautifully to natural dyes. He was able to produce a vibrant array of colors using 100% natural materials such as pomegranate extract and cochineal (whole beetles). 

“My first impressions of the material were its strength and absorption rate,” Jason offered. “The ECONYL® fiber absorbed the dyes more efficiently than natural fibers. I only needed to put them in the dye pots for 20 to 30 minutes as compared to overnight for natural fibers and it produced more vibrant colors than some of the natural fibers I’ve dyed. I really fell in love with it.”

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