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Meet Sarah Jane Fergusson, Redress Design Award 2018 Special Prize Winner

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Based in Tokyo, British-born Sarah Jane Fergusson is fascinated by the Japanese concept of Mottainai. “It roughly translates as ‘too good to waste’,” she says. “I also love the craftsmanship behind a ‘Boro Kimono’; historically, a kimono worn by farmers who, out of economic necessity, mended their garments with spare fabric scraps.”

For her Redress Design Award submission, Sarah Jane sourced vintage silk kimonos from flea markets in Kyoto, experimenting with new techniques and silhouettes to bring these historical garments into the modern age. It wasn’t always easy. “It’s a lengthy, careful process: opening each kimono, cleaning it and reassembling it,” she says.

“At the same time, every kimono panel measures about 35cm in width so it was challenging to create silhouettes restricted by their design.” Nonetheless, her collection captures the spirit, both of an ancient past and an exciting future. Accessories crafted from fabric scraps and obi cords complement the work. She is passionate about her role as a designer/maker.

“We have a responsibility to consider the products we put out into the world,” she says.

Two instances have shaped her views on fast fashion. “The first was going to India for production and seeing the poor working conditions,” she remembers. The second was the movie The True Cost: “More specifically, the quote that fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world after oil,” says Sarah Jane, who holds a degree in Bespoke Tailoring from the London College of Fashion. “Waste is a design flaw and I’m passionate about finding creative solutions to this problem.”

Her dream would be for the world to operate on a circular economy - not simply in fashion, but in every industry. “I’d love to integrate and support diverse communities into the fashion supply chain, focusing on countries where landfill and textile waste are pressing problems.”

“I’m excited about a competition that promotes emerging designers and is giving sustainable design a new image,” she says, of the Redress Design Award. “I’m hoping to exchange new ideas with other designers. The idea of being part of a more responsible community within the fashion industry is both exciting and inspiring.”


This article originally appeared in the Redress Design Award 2018 Magazine.