'If NZ stopped importing fabric and clothing, we’d be fine'

by RNZ / 16 January, 2019
RelatedArticlesModule - clothing

Designer Steven Junil.

"If NZ stopped importing fabric and clothing, we’d be fine for another 50 to 100 years," says fashion designer Steven Junil.

Christchurch designer Steven Junil was an art school student when he committed to creating only objects with both functionality and integrity.

The 26-year-old hand-makes clothes, shoes and accessories with natural, found and recycled materials for his label 6x4

“I felt a bit disheartened seeing all the work that the students worked really hard on going straight into the skip at the end of each semester and I wanted to make stuff I could use, that could be functional.

“I never put art on my walls or anything so I thought I might as well make stuff I can use, and with all the amazing facilities and technicians that they had at art school I thought I could learn a lot of practical skills.”

Steven makes his clothing from pre-loved and found materials whenever possible.

“The garment industry is so problematic, it is the second most polluting industry in the world next to petroleum and there are massive ethical issues as well. I think it’s good to be passionate about clothing – and I’m very passionate about clothing – but you can’t really separate the fact that the fashion industry has so many ethical issues, particularly environmentally. If you’re looking at the wider world of what’s happening in the world of fashion or clothing you can’t ignore the context.

“I’m trying to make stuff that has integrity in terms of where the materials come from and how they’re used and trying to do things on a smaller scale because if I produce everything myself I can have a lot of control over how things are made.”

Steven believes there are already enough textiles in New Zealand to keep local designers supplied.

“I don’t want to be buying new materials and possibly perpetuating demand, because that’s where I think a lot of the issues in the garment industry come from. Fabric production has so many issues and because New Zealand is so isolated everything has to be shipped here, but there’s already so much here. I’m sure if we stopped importing fabric, and stopped importing clothing, we’d be fine for another 50 to 100 years.”

Clothing, once considered precious, has now become disposable, he says.

“Clothing used to be something that was kind of like an heirloom. It was really, really precious, and for me – making everything by hand – it has become really precious again.

"When I was younger it was just something that you bought and wore and it wore out and you’d get new stuff. I think that psychology is quite a new way of thinking about clothing.”

Steven works exclusively with vintage textiles, which can still easily be sourced in New Zealand, he says.

“I find a lot in op shops. I look around for a lot of old sheets and drop cloths, fabric on the roll. After you’ve worked with fabric for a while you get a feel for what’s good and what’s not. There's still a lot of beautiful stuff that people pass on. Beautiful old tablecloths … people don’t really use linen tablecloths anymore.”

He also uses natural, seasonal dyes, which could be made from walnut hulls, acorns, coffee grinds or tea leaves.

“It’s coming up to elderberry season so I try and use whatever’s around. It’s not my main forte. Often you don’t get much colour at all. it’s about adding some depth.

“For me, it’s just a case of doing it on a scale that’s manageable and close to home.”

This article was first published on Summer Times on Radio NZ.

Latest

China could be using Taiwan as a testing ground for disinformation campaigns
102550 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z World

China could be using Taiwan as a testing ground fo…

by Gavin Ellis

A Taiwanese diplomat’s death in Japan has become a symbol of the consequences and dangers of disinformation.

Read more
The best way to beat food cravings? Fill up on the objects of your desire
102087 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z Nutrition

The best way to beat food cravings? Fill up on the…

by Jennifer Bowden

Research has shown that dieters’ attempts to resist eating certain foods appear to lead to cravings for those foods.

Read more
Deepfake: How disinformation fools our brains and damages democracy
102545 2019-02-20 00:00:00Z Tech

Deepfake: How disinformation fools our brains and…

by Gavin Ellis

Message manipulation using bots, algorithms and, now, AI software is making it harder to know what’s real – and threatening democracy itself.

Read more
Move to introduce digital tax for foreign companies profiting online
102519 2019-02-19 09:23:12Z Economy

Move to introduce digital tax for foreign companie…

by RNZ

New Zealand is lining up to introduce a new tax on multinational companies that make money out of online goods and services in this country.

Read more
National's high-risk gamble on marijuana and euthanasia
102484 2019-02-19 00:00:00Z Politics

National's high-risk gamble on marijuana and eutha…

by Graham Adams

Having polarising MPs like Paula Bennett and Maggie Barry leading the opposition to popular reforms could be kryptonite to the National Party.

Read more
Reflections on my encounter with the charming Dan Mallory
102482 2019-02-19 00:00:00Z Profiles

Reflections on my encounter with the charming Dan…

by Michele Hewitson

He penned a bestselling thriller, but as Michele Hewitson discovered, author Dan Mallory also proved himself to be a charmingly adept bullshit artist.

Read more
Sounds of summer: Notable Kiwis name their favourite summer songs
102500 2019-02-19 00:00:00Z Music

Sounds of summer: Notable Kiwis name their favouri…

by Phil Gifford

How music can transport you back to your most memorable summer.

Read more
Inside the close-knit community that lives along the Cromwell-Tarras Rd
102505 2019-02-19 00:00:00Z Travel

Inside the close-knit community that lives along t…

by Mike White

Mike White heads up the Cromwell-Tarras road to merino and wine country.

Read more