First Steps Towards Zero Waste 'Trashion' by Ecaterina Verbitcaia

Salut! My name is Ecaterina (@katrinverb) and I am from the Republic of Moldova. At the moment I am doing my master studies in fashion design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

I am a freelance designer, human-rights activist and craftivist.



I started my sustainable fashion journey with upcycling - making outfits out of curtains, bed linings and old jeans. I’ve also experimented with natural colorants and dyed fabrics with plants. The zero waste approach I tried was using fabric cut-offs as decorations applied on the clothing. And in addition to that white-linen ZW collection I collaborated with a local @realpreciousplastic project and made accessories from used plastic bottles. You can see my designs at @_verbe__.


In 2018 I was introduced to ZW patternmaking by Mylène and since then I have been working in this direction. I dream of bringing more ZWD practices to designers and home sewers in Eastern Europe. So I am really happy to be part of the community and to use this internship as a possibility to learn and grow! It’s a great adventure to move to Lille, France, and to work along on such a great project.


Another part of my career is dedicated to @cires.info. This is a campaign I founded in 2020 to start the conversation about consent culture in Moldova. We work with a team on preventing gender-based violence and educating young people about sex and communication.


Besides fashion and activism I love discovering new places and people, embroidery, psychology, mushrooms and coldwave music. :)


Katrin’s Zero Waste Collection: PRESENCE


I would like to share a bit of the process behind my zero waste collection PRESENCE.


After I graduated from the Academy of Arts in Chisinau, Moldova with my fairytale collection, I realized that organic colourants and natural fabrics are not enough for me. I tried to be as ‘eco-friendly’ as I could, but I still created waste. So I started to think about how I can reuse the waste so it has value again. And as I am a fan of embroidery I decided to combine these two and to use fabric scraps to decorate the clothes I designed.



The most sustainable fabric I could get for this collection was undyed 100% linen. The visual inspiration came from nature - my moodboard was full of photographs of white rocks, waves and moonlight touching the leaves of the trees. Then I started to experiment with the fabric scraps I had from previous projects. I cut them, layered them, and sewed them together until I was satisfied with the complex texture which would create a nice rhythm with the plain surfaces of the garment.



My colleague Diana Altfel and her mom, who is a professional seamstress, helped me to develop the patterns and we created this capsule collection in their home studio. Arranging and sewing the scraps textures required a lot of manual work. We quickly discovered that we didn’t have enough linen scraps to make the layered sleeves for the top so I reached out to a local brand which provided us with linen cut-offs. We went on a trial and error path aiming to get the cleanest look we could, as we wanted to break the idea that fashion made of waste looks trashy. The goal of the project was to show that ‘trashion’ could be elegant and neat.



It was also fun to design some accessories to match with the garments. I collaborated with a team of environmental activists (Tinerii pentru EcoPlastic, @tep_tineriipentruecoplastic) who recycle plastic bottles and caps using machines made by themselves. We tried to mix tiny scraps and thread cutoffs with shredded bottles, then to cover a warm (because it’s sticky) plastic surface with textile waste to get a ‘fluffy’ texture. But we realised it wouldn't be a sustainable product as it’s impossible to separate textile from plastic to recycle it. So we made some bags and hats entirely from white plastic flakes, but you still can see small pieces of other colours because of the bottles which had a colorful logo or text on it. I’m in love with these recycled plastic textures and hope to continue working with it in the future.



After everything was finished we filmed a video showcasing the collection, but also promoting zero waste ideas. It illustrates the five R of zero waste: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.



You can watch the video above or click here to view on YouTube. The project created buzz in the media and I was delighted to be able to talk about zero waste fashion on local TV and to inspire others to think about alternatives in fashion.


You can connect with me on Instagram (@katrinverb and @_verbe__) to stay up to date with my ZW journey and upcycling designs.



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Welcome to the ZWDO team Katrin! 🥳


 

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