Blog

Not a baa-d look

“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture. I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource.”

June 13, 2019

 

When Kirsti Clarida, a Veterinary Technician professor, and Philip Sparks, a Fashion Arts professor, met last year through Seneca’s faculty development program, they knew they had to work together.

“Within 10 minutes, we looked at each other and we were like, ‘Oh my God.’ I have sheep and he needs fleece — it’s a no-brainer,” Clarida said. “The sheep we have at King Campus, they absolutely need to be shorn. They get hot and they can’t regulate their body temperature.”

The collaboration between Clarida and Sparks resulted in a sheep shearing project that saw more than 100 students from both of their programs pass through the barns at King Campus recently, learning about the process of shearing wool and turning it into yarn and clothes.

“There are great interdisciplinary opportunities between our classes to build an emotional connection between fashion and agriculture,” Sparks said. “I mean, fashion comes from agriculture. It’s a resource. The sheep fleece at King was being discarded or donated and yet, in the fashion program, we were purchasing it.”

A total of 14 sheep were shorn by Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world.

sheep shearing
Students watch a demonstration of a sheep hammock, used to trim the animal’s hooves or perform exams without holding it.
sheep shearing
The collaboration between Veterinary Technician and Fashion Arts programs saw more than 100 students pass through the barns at King Campus recently.
david agnew with lamb
Seneca President David Agnew holds a baby lamb while learning more about the sheep shearing project from Professor Kirsti Clarida.

Wool processing: fleece to fabric

During the sheep shearing project, students learned about how fabric is made from fleece. A member of the Upper Canada Fibreshed, the Fashion Arts class took some raw wool back to their textile lab and studied the process of cleaning, carding, felting/spinning. The fibre will be processed by Wool 4 Ewe, and the yarn will be used in the program’s knitwear and textile classes as well as felting and weaving projects.

Wool is a sustainable fibre that is biodegradable, breathable and highly versatile. It is also unique in its ability to felt. This is when wool fibre is subject to a mixture of moisture, heat, soap and friction. The moisture heat and soap open up the scales on the fibre surface and friction causes the fibres to latch onto one another, almost like Velcro.

raw wool
Raw or grease wool: wool taken from the sheep that has not yet been cleaned or processed.
yarn
Yarn: roving that has been stretched and twisted or spun.
roving
Roving: wool that has been cleaned and carded or combed, usually used to spin woollen yarn.
cloth
Cloth: yarns that have been woven, organized at 90 degrees to one another.

Sheep shearing with a champion

Sheep at Seneca’s King Campus are shorn once a year, typically during the spring. As part of the sheep shearing project, a total of 14 sheep were in good hands with Don Metherall, a Canadian champion shearer formerly ranked top 20 in the world. He has been shearing for almost two decades, shearing about 28,000 sheep each year.

don metherall
Don Metherall is a Canadian champion shearer. Each sheep is sheared in a matter of seconds, with each fleece being removed from the sheep in one piece.
shehep shearing
Professor Kirsti Clarida and Professor Philip Sparks sort through a freshly shorn fleece before putting it into a bag.
don metherall
Don Metherall talks to Professor Philip Sparks about shearing a black sheep.
sheep shearing
A young lamb kneels to drink milk from the mother sheep after she was shorn by Don Metherall at King Campus.

Seneca Fashion Professor and Program Coordinator Anna Cappuccitti’s Sustainability Development Goal #SDG

 

Picture1.png_AnnaAnna Cappuccitti is a Program Coordinator and extensively experienced professor in the Fashion Business Programs at Seneca College. Committed to student success and developing and delivering a curriculum that meets industry demands, she has a career background in fashion buying, product development and retail operations. Research interests include retail management careers and retail management education. She was awarded “Best Paper” at the EAERCD conference in 2017 for “Profiling People’s Perceptions of Retail Management Careers”, published in The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research.

When asked her favourite Sustainability Development Goal, Anna replied “I decided on Goal 4 but still also feel really strong about Goal 5 especially being a ‘single’ mom and having a daughter. But I always promised my kids 3 things: unconditional love, experiences and education, so I went with Goal 4.”

E_SDG goals_icons-individual-rgb-05

th

 

Seneca Fashion Professor Phillip Sparks Sustainability Development Goal #SDG

PSPhilip Sparks has been working as a tailor and designer for almost two decades, incorporating an art practice focused on textiles, photography and installations into the production and exhibition of his collections. During his career, he has worked in-house in the wardrobe and design departments at the National Ballet of Canada, The Canadian Opera Company, the Stratford Festival and Soulpepper Theatre. His clothing and accessory business has been carried at retailers including Holt Renfrew, Hudson’s Bay and La Maison Simons. Currently, Philip continues to further his research into the anthropology and anthropometry of tailoring while producing custom garments and serving as a professor in the School of Fashion

th

“Of course quality education is the most important SDG for me, but also responsible consumption and production”

Seneca Fashion Professor Jennifer Dares Sustainability Development Goal #SDG

JD_1Jennifer Dares has over twenty-five years of industry experience as a Canadian contemporary fashion designer and trend forecaster. Jennifer holds a diploma in Fashion from Sheridan College. Her experience includes working as a designer, pattern drafter, managing and recruiting for a major department store, as an assistant buyer for Emporio Armani and the Women’s and Girls’ Trend Direction Manager for HBC. Jennifer established her women’s wear label LAYER in 2002. LAYER publications include Canadian and international press coverage. Jennifer also contributes to the advancement of the industry, new designers and numerous worthy causes such as Fashion Cares, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Shadow Ball, the Royal Ontario Museum’s Indigo Auction, or the Fashion Zone advisor

Jennifer has been teaching for twenty years within the space of Fashion. Jennifer was a co-investigator on the Ryerson University research team for the research project titled ‘Neighbourhood Policing: Designing Uniforms that Work’ project. Jennifer’s professional development is ongoing, as she visits museums and exhibits during her travels. She keeps abreast of industry trends and attends conferences on design, sustainability and technology. Jennifer’s current research focus in the MA Fashion program at Ryerson University is sustainability, the circular economy and upcycling. When we asked Jennifer  which SDG was closest to her heart, she replied:

SDG12

“I am passionate about all of the SDGs, but its ‘SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’ where I believe I can make a difference not only in my design practice but also in my design research and the sharing of knowledge.”

 

Seneca Signs MOU with the University of South Wales​ (USW)

USW_img2

Seneca Fashion and the University of South Wales (USW) signed an MOU which will create a pathway for students who wish to continue their education by transferring to a degree program at USW. Photographed here are Laura Walkovich and Jenna Strano, Seneca Fashion Alumni and current USW students and Adam Williams Manager of the Fashion and Advertising Program at USW.

When asked how Seneca prepared her for a degree program, Jenna answered, “Seneca prepared me for my degree program in a number of ways. For starters, my diploma program helped me to hone in on really important skills – from academic writing to time management to presentation skills. As a degree student, many of my assignments are written. I am expected to review credible academic sources, organize my points and articulate them clearly. I credit Seneca’s business classes by teaching me how to properly format a formal paper. As such, I was fully prepared to begin my Critical Research module at USW this year. Additionally, my current program demands me to be self-directed and independent. I need to be able to balance deadlines and I feel that Seneca taught me great time-management skills because faculty had coached students to start tackling deadlines right away in order to create our best work. Also, having delivered presentations many times throughout my three years at Seneca, I learned how to be a confident speaker, which has proven to be helpful in my current program. Specifically when I had to deliver a presentation to Topshop executives recently.

When asked how enjoyable the student experience was at our partner institution, Jenna replied, “I am enjoying my experience at USW immensely! The professors here are extremely supportive and always available to help whenever needed. I am fortunate that I studied at Seneca before coming to this university because they have high expectations. Students are expected to come with some business acumen, knowledge of marketing jargon and an intermediate level of experience with InDesign. The experience so far has been nothing short of amazing, even though there is still schoolwork! The school and the city as a whole are very accommodating to international students.”

If you’re interested in transferring to a degree program be sure to read Jenna Strano’s full interview on her degree transfer journey on Sucess Beyond

The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs Applied to the Fashion Industry

With Canada Day just around the corner, we are kicking our #SustainableSeneca content into high-gear! To start, let’s review the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals applied to the fashion industry.

Screen Shot 2019-06-18 at 6.40.50 PM

Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

The textile and apparel industry is usually the first industry which enters a country, offers job and economic development. Therefore it contributes to the alleviation of poverty.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Nobody can work if he or she is hungry, but nobody wants to live on donations. People need jobs which enables them to buy food. Therefore we need to provide people with jobs to end hunger.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

No child under the age of 14 should work, all children should have to right to school no matter where they live. No child labour! In some countries where child labour occurs, the fashion industry has abused children as cheap labour, often in horrible conditions. The fashion industry requires transparency and ethical standards in its supply chains and consumers need to choose carefully which brands they purchase.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

We live in a fast-paced society, and we need lifelong education just to stay aware. Education is key to development, but it is also expensive. In some countries, parents earn so little that they can’t afford to provide access to education for their children. Children are often pushed into labour from a very young age. To improve this situation, workers in developing countries must earn a living wage so that parents can send their kids to school, not to a factory.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The apparel industry employees millions of women worldwide for sewing garments. For many women, this income offers independence and the possibility to have a life without being married. Ensuring equitable income for women is a first step towards gender equality.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

As consumers in the western world, we are often addicted to cleanliness and therefore wash every garment after a single use. This is all right for socks and underwear, but not for jeans or shirts. We need to rethink our washing habits; we need to save water. This is also true for production processes in the textile industry that should use water efficiently and should avoid waster emissions into rivers and lakes.

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

All synthetic materials are made of raw oil and therefore require a lot of energy in their production. However, often, garments made of polyester or acrylic are so cheap that we don’t value them. No matter how expensive a garment is, we need to consider whether we really need and want it. Otherwise, it is a waste of energy. We need to make sure that we save energy, for example, by avoiding the use of a laundry dryer and by using a clothing line.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Part of the fair trade concept is that workers are treated well and get a fair payment. Therefore, fair trade is better than conventional trade, and it helps to foster sustainable growth. Consumers need to make informed purchasing decisions that support fair trade companies. Fashion companies like People Tree offer fair trade products.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

In the West, we often take our infrastructure for granted. But waste management, water sewage treatment, and even roads are part of the bigger picture of sustainable development. We need to make sure that corporations produce their products in developing countries not by exploiting the lack of infrastructure in these countries, but by instead helping to create it. For example, instead of discharging coloured water from dyes directly into rivers, wastewater treatments must be built.

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Developing countries need economic growth for development. Countries like China and India made huge development gains partly through the apparel and textile industry. The apparel industry helps to reduce inequality in the world, like providing jobs for many people who can’t read or write. However, if people are used as slaves and forced to work, with wages below minimum averages, with long, forced working hours in unsafe conditions, and without the right for communication or self-organisation, then we are nonetheless producing inequality. We need to start asking where our garments are made, and by whom. We need transparency in our supply chains.

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Despite numerous planning challenges, cities offer more efficient economies of scale on many levels, including the provision of goods, services and transportation. However, we all need to make sure that cities keep their personality and that people stay connected. We need to support our local charities like Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army by donating our unwanted garments or household materials. Such donations will help to build local community, support people in need and provide local jobs.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Apparel consumption in North America has increased substantially to a level unparalleled in history. This increased consumption enlarged the industry’s environmental burden: every garment, irrespective of price, requires resources and causes pollution. While the industry partially recognizes its unsustainable practices, it does not accept limitations of the environment and is instead “built on the principle of limitless growth” aiming to sell more garments every year. We as consumers, need to reconsider our consumption habits. Less can be more!

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The majority of our unwanted garments end up in landfills. While synthetic materials will stay forever in our landfills, organic materials, such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo will biodegrade and release Co2 and methane. Both are greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. To keep unwanted textiles out of landfills: donate all garments.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Growing cotton requires a lot of water. Just think of the Aral Sea: formerly one of the biggest inland lakes in the world, it completely dried out when the government of Uzbekistan decided to use its water to irrigate cotton fields. When the lake dried out, all fisheries and sea life in it were lost. Such unsustainable use of resources compromises future generations. We need to start asking what materials are our garments made of, where these materials originate, and how they are made. Only transparency can give consumers the power to make informed, better decisions. Start asking!

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Cutting down rainforests to use the wood as cellulosic raw material to produce viscose, a material with similar characteristics as cotton, not only destroys ecosystems, but it also contributes to climate change. We need to make sure that cellulosic material is only produced in sustainably managed forests. We need to ask where the material coming from is, and we need to consume less.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Although there are hundreds of countries, there is only one world. We can only solve the problems and challenges of our world when every country and nation and every individual contributes. Be a good citizen and help wherever you can to be responsible.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Governments have a responsibility to hold businesses accountable and should follow the UK’s lead by signing the modern slavery act. The Modern Slavery Act requires medium to large-sized companies, businesses of thirty-six million dollar turnover or more, to report on what they are doing to eradicate slavery from their supply chains. This means each company is legally obliged to do this or explain why not.  We need world governments to take responsibility for their nation’s business practices overseas. For example, Canada needs a modern slavery act like the UK. It’s unacceptable that countries have signed the UN business and human rights responsibility act, but no one enforces it.

Fashion Business Management Graduate Natalya Amres Remixing for Migos, Adidas and more!

“The one thing that has forever been ingrained in my brain is differentiation. Every day you challenge yourself — how do you stand out? How do you take out the competition? So much of what I do now, the success I have, it all started at Seneca.”

Natalya Amres was serving at a restaurant last fall when she got a text that changed the course of her career path. Migos, the American hip-hop trio, was wearing her clothes on stage in Philadelphia as part of Drake’s Aubrey & The Three Migos tour.

“I still can’t quite process that moment,” said the Seneca grad who until recently was working two serving jobs to support herself. “I knew there was a chance they’d wear them but it was not guaranteed.”

Amres graduated from the Fashion Business Management program. She describes herself as a cut-and-sew designer who reconstructs sportswear. Think Puma pants turned into a two-piece set of pants and a bralette.

“I trimmed off the excess fabric from the inseam of the legs and ended up with two triangle pieces. And I thought, ‘Bralette!’” she said.

That was just a little over a year ago. At the time, Amres was trying to sell some old sports-branded track pants that she didn’t wear anymore. She thought they’d sell faster if she reworked — remixed — them. And they did.

After posting her reconstructed Puma piece on Heroine, an online marketplace, the item was sold immediately. The same thing happened when Amres posted another remix the next day and again the day after that. Soon she started posting her work on Instagram and selling them on her website Remixed by Tal.

Then, as luck would have it, a musician friend of Amres wore her Kappa remix on stage in Toronto, not knowing that representatives from brands like Jordan and Kappa were in the audience. A few months later, she was approached by Jordan for her first big collaboration — remixing Jordan gear for the launch of the new Air Jordan AWOK sneakers at a Jumpman brunch.

“It was one of the most meaningful collabs because it broke me out of my shell,” Amres said. “It opened the doors to me doing live customizations.”

For example, when Migos requested custom Kappa tracksuits from the Italian sportswear brand, they commissioned Amres.

“I was given three days to work on the outfits,” she said. “It was so stressful, I didn’t sleep!”

And it wasn’t until several concerts and alterations later (they didn’t fit initially) that Migos finally wore them on stage.

Since then, Amres has gone from having to de-stitch Kappa bands for remixing to Kappa sending her rolls of their bands from Italy.

Not bad for someone who started a jewelry business out of high school, selling beaded bracelets on Facebook, and learned how to sew by watching YouTube videos after she graduated from Seneca.

“I never saw a sewing machine at Seneca,” Amres said, chuckling. “I never saw myself as a fashion designer. I wanted to become a fashion buyer.”

Seneca grad Natalya Amres is a cut-and-sew designer who reconstructs sportswear. She has worked with brands like Jordan, Kappa and Adidas.
In fact, the one class Amres failed and had to retake while studying at Seneca was garment construction.

“The professor was so good he would not let you get away with something mediocre,” she recalled. “He wouldn’t sugar-coat anything. Even though I felt like a misfit in the program back then, the one thing that has forever been ingrained in my brain is differentiation. Every day you challenge yourself — how do you stand out? How do you take out the competition? So much of what I do now, the success I have, it all started at Seneca.”

Whether it’s remixing a duffel bag into a jacket or a windbreaker into a pair of track pants, Amres has made no secret about her cut-and-sew process, often sharing photos online from start to finish.

Recently, she was invited by Nike and Jordan to attend the NBA All-Star weekend in Charlotte, N.C., where female business leaders and creatives gathered in celebration of female empowerment.

“I still don’t know why I was picked,” Amres said. “I’m so small — I just started doing this. Some of the other women who were invited have fully structured companies. But once I got there, I realized no one there was too good for anyone. We were all there to help support each other.”

Back in her home studio, a small condo in downtown Toronto, the Ajax native is a one-woman operation with four sewing machines, two of which take up counter space in her kitchen. Her latest projects include an Adidas campaign for Nite Jogger sneakers and custom Kappa pieces for Sofi Tukker, the Los Angeles-based musical duo that performed at this year’s Grammys.

“Everything’s happening so fast, but really, the remix was born out of me thrifting my whole life,” she said. “I source all my raw materials.”

And then there’s storytelling.

“You have to be relatable to your market audience,” Amres said. “People like to see the cut-and-sew photos and they like seeing me model my clothes. I do that as a way to simultaneously create a brand for myself. People want to see the person doing it live. It has to be authentic.”