"A Conspiracy of Ravens – Men’s Sartorial Zero Waste Collection"
Pablo Alejandro Maas' bachelor's thesis from Lahti Institute of Art and Design. Collection images by Atte Tanner, Megna Mukherjee and Rune Kjelseth.
My name is Pablo Alejandro Maas and I’m a tailor, a fashion designer and soon-to-be UI & UX designer from Helsinki, Finland. “A Conspiracy of Ravens – Men’s Sartorial Zero Waste Collection” is my bachelor's thesis from Lahti Institute of Art and Design.
My collection (resulting in one full three-piece zero waste suit with three variations) was born from the need to prove that form does not need to be sacrificed in order to save material, even when it comes to a well-established piece of clothing in society, like a men’s suit.
While bespoke suiting is a fairly sustainable concept in the sense that it’s made to order, extremely durable, and easily alterable it doesn’t mean it can’t be reviewed critically. A C50 (chest circumference 100 cm) sized men’s three piece suit uses about 4.5 meters of standard width (1.5 m) shell fabric: 2 m for the jacket, 1.5 m for the trousers, and 1 m for the waistcoat with rear in lining. If the material used is a stripe or check pattern, it requires a little bit more fabric to assure the pattern lines up. A three-piece suit consists of over 200 different pieces of often 6 or more different fabrics. And all of the various trimmings, like buttons, the zipper, the fastener and others of different materials are not included in this count.
The tailoring community is extremely proud (and for a very good reason) of its long traditions in its relentless creation of perfection, but while working on my thesis collection, I ran into a lot of diminishing attitudes and prejudice towards sustainable material use and especially with thoughts of combining tailoring with experimental pattern making. Part of this attitude also comes from the concept of masculinity and fashion.
The average man is a challenging target group in that the options for menswear are few, often because of the fear of being ridiculed for dressing differently, especially compared with what all women can wear and enjoy in silhouettes, materials and forms. That’s why in the end, my work aimed to be recognized and valued by average men as equal to its role model and by not revealing how it was made, like a true bespoke suit.
I started by defining what is and what makes a suit: It's a pragmatic uniform that represents masculinity in its restrained form and subtle details. In my definition, two technical qualities defined the suit jacket: the embedded sleeve and the collar with lapels. Remove both and you get a differently named piece of clothing, while the trousers and especially the waistcoat are less strict in their form. I then ranked all the listed details to decide where to start from and determine whether or not something needed to be sacrificed in the process to ensure my concept worked.
I had the aim of achieving a predefined version of a men’s suit but I was also prepared for the fact it may not be possible. Failing was always an option, which would have been also a valid research conclusion. I started assembling the zero waste pattern along the fold, aiming for a more or less mirrored pattern. Originally I thought of making a whole menswear collection zero waste but drew the line in applying the zero waste techniques only to the shell fabrics. I felt using all materials in a zero waste matter would immediately define that the final form could not be predefined as lining, fusing, canvas and padding helps to create form and the balanced fit.