From Waste to Wear: Alice Beyer Schuch discusses her ‘Further-textile rebirth catalyst’ project

Alice Schuch photographed during OSCE days in Berlin (circa 2016).

With the Open Source Circular Economy (OSCE) days beginning this weekend, it felt an appropriate time to introduce “Circular Fashion Change Agent”, Alice Beyer Schuch to you. About a year ago, I met Schuch (a Brazilian fashion professional with over 15 years experience living in Germany) during the OSCE days in Berlin. She was showcasing an all white outfit made from recycled cotton which she’d created as part of her MA (Sustainability in Fashion). For the project. Below she discusses how she got interested in fashion, the project and the importance of science in the fashion industry.

Why is fashion important to you?
Fashion has been in my life since I was a kid. I grew up visiting my mom’s atelier. At the age of 7, I got my first sewing machine and learned how to sew! It was always fascinating me this idea of mixing fabrics, textures and colours in a unique way, and thus being able to express yourself through this textile tactile shell.

How did you get interested in sustainable fashion?
Personally, I adopted vintage, upcycle and redesign concepts much before these terms became hype-fashion ideas. Professionally, after years working in the fashion field, I have faced some uncomfortable situations while living in Asia. Those experiences made me review the system I was contributing to, so I decided to change and started my the master studies in Berlin.

Could you tell us a bit about your Masters project?
For my master thesis,  Further-textile rebirth catalyst, I focused on the concept of continuous recycling of cotton textiles and partnered with Ioncell-F to get a better understanding of the new process of chemical recycle of cotton/cellulose. In a moment where no one was really talking about it, I got deep understanding of the topic, its amazing positive impacts, as well as some obstacles. From that, I designed a mini-collection with circular design strategies in mind. Marketing and customer analyses were also part of the study, and allowed a broad view of the issue.

How did the science and fashion interface work for you?
The correlation between this fashion topic and technology & science is obvious. There would not be recycle possibilities at this regenerative level without research and developments in chemistry or industrial machinery, for example. It is a new but quite relevant field; considering that cotton is the most consumed natural fibre in the textile industry. For sure, there are still challenges on the development and commercialization of such a kind of fibre, and even more collaboration is needed. Nevertheless, since 2016, there’s been some good news and development in the area. To mention a few: the Ioncell-F technology won the first prize at last year’s H&M Global Change Award, Levi’s is working closely to evrnu and wants to make all their jeans from recycled cotton, Lenzing launched its Refibra© and partnered with Inditex to bring it to the market!

How have people responded to your work?
The project has had incredible acceptance and presence in different events and platforms around the world. It was presented during the Greenshowroom in Germany, at the First Global Sustainable Fashion Week in Budapest, as sustainable alternative at the exhibition “Fast Fashion – the dark side of fashion” during Manila Fashion Week, Philippines, and showcased in magazines from South America, Europe and Asia, to mentionsome. Due to the relevance and novelty of the topic, I was invited to many events to speak about it and bring a clear picture to our consumers, increasing awareness of their roles in this system as well.

What are the next steps?
The technologies are already there. What we need are interconnections, applicability, scalability. So, within my field of expertise and knowledge, I am working with businesses and education on the development and implementation of Circular & Sustainable Fashion Strategies for the EU market, through Cirkla Modo and for the Brazilian market through project ES-fashion, and supporting those who want to get one step forward towards a more responsible and beneficial circular fashion future.

To find out more about Alice Beyer Schuch and her work, visit Cirkla Modo.