A showroom sit-down with Kit Willow inevitably turns into a sustainable design lesson. For fall, it’s a small education about offcuts, excess fabric that ends up on factory floors before it goes to landfill. “You never use every little corner,” she explains. She intends to break out of that process, cobbling floral-print silks from tailors around Australia and her own atelier into the flowy bias-cut dresses she’s known for. Not only that. Since the pandemic, she’s switched to a direct-to-consumer model, so she only makes pre-orders from her e-commerce site.
Paneled denim jackets, bodice and ruffled skirts in this collection were all made from discarded jeans from Waste Lab’s Future, Willow at 2021 with success. She’s currently looking for other designers to have a residency at the lab, or even a virtual residency, meaning designers share their patterns while the lab creates garments from local Melbourne scrap. “Anyone across the globe can,” she says, using military surplus, men’s shirts, and even old bed sheets. This kind of open-door policy is rare in the fashion industry, but Willow knows the environmental problems we face, and she is determined to do something about it.
A more responsible fashion industry goes round and round. Unwanted clothes don’t end up dead in landfills, but are kept in a continuous loop through resale, store take-back programs, garment repairs, and upcycling. Willow has built these processes into the way she does business, but it starts with making clothes you want. One of the most functional pieces was the grommet belt, with a built-in hem and ruffles that dangled from the hips. It’s a low-effort, high-impact accessory that lends extra sparkle to everything from sharply tailored coats to flowing belted dresses.