As part of our Characteristics feature, we spoke with designer Mette Julie Bundgaard-Nielsen, formerly in charge of design at Fonnesbech, now head of design at her own brand, Bundgaard Nielsen. Mette Julie works extremely conceptual when designing - something we witnessed when we interviewed her in our second edition a couple of years ago. We feel Mette Julie is a great representative of a new wave of Danish designers working both aesthetically and ideologically when creating. Therefore, we asked her to pick out a piece from her latest body of work, something that she feels represents her as a designer and tell us the story behind it.
She chose the newest addition to her impressive work, the Circle 1 Dress. The close fitting dress features long sleeves, a round neckline, and a hemline just below the knee. It resembles the shape of what is recognised as a simple basic block dress. The surface has lines drawn in orange and blue, clearly referencing the anthropometrical guidelines found in the basic block construction system. The bold choice of picking this "undesigned" garment as the item to represent and portray her as a designer is an easy one for Mette Julie:
"To me, this is not just a basic block. Nor is it just a dress. Nor just a look. To me, this garment represents a view of life, a conceptual ideology and a new aesthetic garment system."
The key source of inspiration for the Circle 1 Dress is found within the ideology behind the term "Design to Reduce". This is a relatively new concept of slow fashion, looking at decreasing the overly excessive supply of products that leads to overconsumption, and has unfathomable consequences for both the environment and the human race.
The goal is to introduce a new way of applying sustainability to the creation of clothes through a highly experimental process. This will hopefully result in an industry infused with creative concepts that will enhance longevity in design, and thus inspire a change in consumer behaviour towards a qualitative attitude.
Mette Julie approached the concept of slowing down the circle of consumption by looking at the reasons behind the consumer's low level of relation to their garments. Why do they throw away undamaged clothes and replace them with something new? The reason, according to the report "Design for Longevity" by WRAP, is that the clothes no longer fit. Therefore, by designing easily transformable and adjustable garments to fit multiple shapes and body types, a designer can play a pivotal role in increasing the longevity of their garments quite simply.
"With the Circle 1 Dress, I wish to explore this core problem by redesigning/creating a new size-flexible garment system that will support a sustainable construction of garments, leaving bad fit and standard sizing as a thing of the past."
By methodically investigating the pattern system of the basic block as well as the size- and grading system, Mette Julie is exploring shape-forming cut lines made out of the basic blocks and align them with the anthropometrical data, body types and grading lines and thereby determine the essential parameters necessary for creating a good universal fit. Consequently, the mission is to create a new system of flexible, well fitted basic blocks reminiscing the phrase; "minimal construction for maximum effect". Aesthetically, it will require extensive exploration and experimentation in materials, function, and their relationship in order to manifest the technical, technological and handcrafted character of this concept.
This process oriented work is important to address because it has the potential to inspire a modernised system of creation based on consumer involvement and behavioural studies. This concept omits the conscious and fabricated consumer (highly appreciated terms within slow fashion) making way for an enlightened consumer. The kind of consumer that will base their consumption on values of longevity such as quality of materials and flexibility of garments, not only on aesthetic preferences.
Through the emergence of these new characteristics, form and function are interlocked in an intertwined relationship between form shaping cutlines and functional fit to adhere to the concept of ’design to reduce’. Hopefully, we can introduce a new aesthetic idiom within fashion practices as garment production is thought to evolve holistically and respectfully to respect the whole as greater than the sum of its parts.