Fashioning a sustainable future of clothing

March 2, 2024 BY

Art meets science: Jess Coldrey will work alongside Ember Chittenden from Bendigo Tech School to involve students in a thought experiment to solve some of fashions challenges. Photo: ALICIA S. COOK

AN interactive artist in residency program is now underway at Bendigo Tech School.

The residency features creative technologist Jess Coldrey, who was named one of the top 50 women in engineering.

Over the coming weeks, Coldrey will use the facilities at the tech school to explore solutions to challenges in the fashion industry, a process that will be shared with local high school students.

“I’ll be delving into the future of fashion and I’ll be creating an exhibition with students from local schools,” said Coldrey.

“The main idea around the series was trying to imagine a more sustainable vision for the fashion industry, but using technology, science, and engineering to project what that system could look like on a large scale.”

With Coldrey’s guidance, students who engage with the residency will get the chance to learn skills in digital fields like artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

The project also involves recycling and upcycling existing materials and textiles to encourage critical and creative thinking around challenges facing the fashion industry such as resource scarcity.

“Often when we think about the future of fashion we picture shiny, metallic, futuristic, very plastic-y visions of the future,” Coldrey said.

“But there’s a language of more organic materials, more lumpy, unusual sustainable clothing that not everyone gravitates towards but could become a really strong aesthetic in the future.

“So throughout the residency I’ll be testing some different materials and playing with the idea of what if in the future we’ve got scarce resources and it’s actually banned to make new fibres for clothing.”

Part of the aim of the residency is to show students the creative pathways that exist for women in STEM.

Science educator and head of programs at Bendigo Tech School, Ember Chittenden, said it was exciting to have Coldrey involved as both a woman working in STEAM and to encourage students engage in future thinking.

“Unpacking the idea of resource scarcity and the ‘what if’ or the ‘how might we’ problem solving process is really important,” Ms Chittenden said.

“So bringing around thinking about social change and how they can be a part of that going forward into their future is great.”

The residency will culminate in an exhibition at Bendigo Tech School on 8 March, which is also International Women’s Day.

High school groups can still participate in the program by contacting Bendigo Tech School.