Working with natural fibres, recycled materials and environmentally friendly dyes, Ruby Davison nurtures a passion for sustainable fashion.
“I’m from a very organic family,” the 18-year-old from Napier explains. “I’d rather take the creative path than pursue industry-driven fashion.”
Ruby recently completed a Certificate of Fashion Apparel at ideaschool at the Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT) in Hawke’s Bay. For her class finale she and her final-year classmates each designed and crafted a collection of garments featured in a fashion show held in EIT’s Trades and Technology Complex for an enthusiastic live audience.
The 18-year-old’s collection, entitled Thing to Wear, was inspired by Japanese culture and the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. Ruby started by making a traditional kimono which she hung on an adjustable mannequin in her room. Taking ideas from that, she’s pleased it also encouraged her to choose colour rather than the black she has more commonly favoured.
‘I was looking at mesh for the undergarments and socks but wanted a fabric that worked with natural dyes,” she says. “After some trial and error, I found mutton cloth, which was originally used to wrap export meat and is now a cleaning material.
“It’s such a great fabric. It took turmeric, red cabbage and silver beet dyes perfectly. My grandmother ordered me 50 metres as a Christmas present.”
Ruby also uses tea, coffee and onion skins to dye garments, which she keeps to look at rather than sell.
“I am too close to them,” she laughs. “I want them to go to someone who will appreciate them, to rock them completely. In saying that, I need to photoshoot them so people will know what I mean.”
A plus of the EIT programme, she says, was being pointed at opportunities for entering garments in the recycled sections of fashion competitions – “I don’t know how long it would take to find my niche otherwise.”
While undecided about her future plans, Ruby is considering taking part in Eco Fashion Week next year.
“I think that will get me going. I have all these thoughts and I need to pinpoint one.”
Her thoughts include travelling to Vietnam, where she would like to collect more of the materials she loves, and then on to the “nitty-gritty” of Europe.
“Selling isn’t the main idea. I want to see the fabrics first, to literally get the feel of things.”
The modern age, she says, tends to deliver an abundance of choice but that doesn’t necessarily make people feel better or more attractive.
“I want them to realise that less is more and that simple is also good. For the fashion show, my models wore just two garments each, yet they still looked really good to the camera.”