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Sustainability is the buzzword in the fashion industry right now. As humanity gives more of a shit about taking care of this planet, the fashion world follows – we want to buy clothing that’s cool as hell, but also isn’t contributing to mass landfill. But some designers, like Sydney’s Jeff McCann, have been all over this for years.

“It started when I was a poor university student,” Jeff explains to PEDESTRIAN.TV. “I was working on projects with next to no budget and we had to be resourceful when it came to making props, set pieces and costumes. That’s when I discovered the beauty of cardboard.”

Jeff realised that cardboard is actually quite a strong and resilient material, people just weren’t used to seeing it in the fashion sphere.

“I loved the idea of taking something that’s considered “rubbish” and using my skills to transform it into something new with purpose. It’s problem solving 101, design at it’s core.”

Jeff has been working with cardboard for ten years now, and says it took a long time working with the material to get his product to where it is today. “For me it’s all about experimenting with materials. Working out its limitations and prototyping a lot,” he says.

Alongside his cardboard-based jewellery, Jeff makes absolutely wild fringed jackets. He’s designed some using cardboard:

But also uses other second hand and repurposed materials like advertising banners. Big name Aussie celebs like Thelma Plum and Montaigne have worn his threads.

Credit: @debkloedenphotography

Something he loves about creating these one-of-a-kind jackets is that they subvert the fashion trend cycle.

Something that would make a huge impact on creating a more sustainable fashion industry is to decrease the importance of trends and celebrate more individuality. I feel that clothing trends can spark fear in people. The fear of being left out, left behind or not being “cool” enough. People feel the pressure to continue buying more stuff, creating a vicious cycle.

Instead of opting into the fast fashion cycle, Jeff says a great move toward sustainability in fashion would be to support local makers and those who value the process of creating a garment. “Focus on buying quality garments that don’t just follow trends.”

In terms of moving toward an even more sustainable practice, Jeff wants to work with event-based companies.

“I want to turn their old collateral and waste into new things that they can use for future events. Like music festivals, council projects, cultural events.”

He says his dream is for people to re-think how much they’re buying, but also what they do with waste. “I want to get people thinking more creatively about the things we throw away,” he explains.

At the end of the day, Jeff hopes his method of considered fashion will become the norm in the industry.

“If fashion brands moved towards creating more timeless pieces that have versatility, along with a message of ‘wear it your way’ or custom orders, it would make a big difference as the message they are sending to people is more open to interpretation.”

You can check out more of Jeff’s work on his site, here.

Image: Supplied