Lost & Found: A visual essay about reestablishing self-loyalty in fashion, 2016.

The following is a script from the final BA project for Sustainable Fashion and Business at KEA. Students are given one word, and are asked to imagine a fashion product and concept that emphasizes the word. The project must incorporate practices and theories taught in class, such as design to consumer Loading Time, Pathos design methods, and others. The word: Loyalty.

A Little Reflection:
As a member of the Millennial Generation, you were born somewhere between 1982 and 2000. You remember growing up wearing overalls that were too complicated to take off when you were a five year old who had to pee, right away. When you were six, you used to secretly watch The Simpsons - even though it was inappropriate. At the tender age of seven, your first Tamagotchi died. The following year your favourite number changed again, to eight - because eight was symmetrical, and the best year of your life (so far).
— Survey Introduction for the Lost & Found project

Sustainable Fashion Design and Business:

Lost & Found


Fashion citizens have lost sentimentality for their clothing. Brands sell a signature persona, not a signature style, thus installing an individual style guru upon the fashion citizen for them to imitate.

People invest in their style through their clothing via the fashion taste of others, and have lost touch with what they value in themselves.

The issue at stake is fashion’s disregard for our individuality, spread by overconsumption in hopes to dress for another identity. We should focus on slow repair of self.

Before you became an adult, what was your childhood utopia like?

Anthony Savile believes sentimentality is an escape (Husbands, M, Lundin, R, & Treier, D, 2007). But sentimental escape is not bad:

We are looking back to carry ourselves forward, to uncover our utopias we first imagined as children, and re-engage with these fanciful places. Personal style is evoked through inner reflection and loyalty to self.

The name of this project came from imagining how loyalty to oneself could reignite someone’s intuition, to remind themselves of their individuality. 

This is what Lost & Found is about. 

The irony of the term “loyalty” is it’s association with something that is eternal. However in the fashion industry, there are no laws of loyalty.

Fashion citizens have lost sentimentality for their clothing. I say citizens because I think the current vocabulary - fashion victims, for example- doesn’t remind us that we are contributing to the fashion system. 

I want people to be active fashion citizens, to share their individuality with fashion, and I think this individuality comes from loyalty to what we’ve always loved. 

I started with a stream of consciousness writing technique (similar to a mind map) to get every word out I could think of that came to my mind when I thought of “Loyalty”. 

From here, I came to the conclusion that loyalty comes from a sense of security. It comes from establishing intimate feelings through touch, colours, and shapes - or anything that makes someone sentimental. 

Anthony Savile is a philosopher that I studied briefly last year in Toronto, in a class called the Philosophy of Beauty. The lectures on sentimentality stuck with me, because in my opinion, I believe fashion and communication come from being genuine. 

And to Savile, sentimentality was an escape. But I don’t think that’s true - I think we need to look back this way to decide what we’re going to do next. 

I worked on a blue jersey knit t-shirt that belonged to my roommate when she was eight, from her horseback riding lessons. 

There were small holes in the shirt, and two large holes in the arm pits to patch the large holes, I sourced a corresponding knit with a very 1990s unicorn print on it. 

Based on the survey options, I let my roommate choose the shades of the primary colours she wanted on her tee shirt - for the sake of this project. 

I chose my millennial target group because in the global fashion industry today, we are the last generation to connect the issues we’re facing tomorrow with generation Z, with the background knowledge we’ve learned from the generations before us, still alive today.

As a millennial myself, I have a chance to use my education and skills not just to work. I have the responsibility to teach what I know to the generations before and after me about how to first change their fashion consumption lifestyles, and also how to take two steps forward and implement responsible innovation in fashion. 

So, the input of this millennial generation has impact RIGHT now. 

To ask a millennial about their memories of fashion from when they were a child, will hopefully open them up to thinking more about what they used to wear. 

Maybe they won’t just remember what they used to like before they had to decide how to be an adult like everyone else has. Striking a sentimental chord with them must encourage them to think about how they’re consuming clothing today, too. 

I started the survey with the quote you saw at the top, next to the picture of my sister Hannah and I (we’re in our overalls, on the couch in my second family home, on the Saint Lawrence River, in the 1000 Islands in Canada - probably taken around 1998).

I posed eight multiple choice questions, and left the survey open for 24 hours to collect responses. In my synopsis, I hoped to gather 15 responses from anonymous participants. 

In reality, I got 75. 

I based questions off of primary colour associations, which include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple - with the idea that I could use any of these colours to mix into appropriate palettes for the project. 

Here’s what millennials associate with being five, six, seven, or eight years old:

Based on the highest score for each one of the eight questions, 21.3% associate their own name with the colour red. 

  • Summer Vacation is yellow, according to 32% of the respondents. 
  • The word “core” doesn’t sound mushy, or soft, but 44% say it reminds them of the word metallic. 
  • A best friend reminds 26.7% of interviewees of the colour purple.
  • 46.7% had a favourite outfit when they were little, because it was soft. 
  • Just under half - 46.7% - prefer an even number sequence, over other options such as the Fibonacci sequence. 
  • 21.3% associated circles with the word “loyalty”. 

The 2014 film Boyhood by director Richard Linklater is a great example of recounting what it was like to grow up as a millennium. The film follows a character named Mason as he grows up with his family in the United States.

It feels like Mason always plays himself, honestly. 

And he does:

In tune with a theme of slowness, and time of existence, Boyhood was filmed over a 12 year period - to have authenticity of the developing characters throughout the script. 

That means that each of the actors, such as Ellar Coltrane (pictured here) probably experienced loading time within the film production. 

Grounded on the same themes as Lost and Found, with a nod to slowness, authenticity, and the viewer’s closeness to the characters as we watch them literally grow up.

Boyhood is a film that reflects one’s coming of age, within the target age group of my project.

The three slides above are mood boards, divided into the three categories used in the survey: Colour, texture, and shape.

I focused on primary colours, not just because they are easy to work with, but they often have a juvenile connotation. Textures of the final product may have metallic influences, perhaps through iridescent yarns. 

I also thought about the packaging: I think something tubular, and longer with loose yarns would be ideal for a kit that has to be taken apart in order to use. Imagine if the repair kit sold to fix old, sentimental clothing, was knitted. 

The word circular,  a theme of Loyalty, and an important term associated with a closed loop fashion system,  means to give and take. 

In order to understand this practice, loyalty kits for Lost and Found have to be taken apart in order to mend. Thus leaving no waste behind. 

As for the colour palettes of these yarns, I think it would be brilliant to market them as kits for skin tones, for diverse inclusion. 

For example, three kits may be made up of tints, tones, and shades of the primary colours. The colour palette in the centre of the slide is made of soft cool tones from a colour theory exercise first year university, based on my own skin tone. 

The tee shirt includes pathos frameworks, as well as upcycling design methods.

There is a focus on extending the life of the product garment by deconstruction and reconstruction, for the sake of sentimentality and loyalty to one’s originality. 

Instant presence practice interacts with slow fashion and the fashion citizen, as they spend time to mend their clothing. I established a loading time between the two, and thus reconnected the user to their core persona. 

The time of existence design theory extends the beauty of a fashion garment’s decay from wear and tear, by imposing sentimentality to evoke self-loyalty between garment and wearer, and between wearer and self. After spending all weekend working on the tee, I believe all of these theories and methods did play out in the mending. 

In a way, I was a test run for the product, and I am happy that I successfully repaired a shirt that had great sentimental value to my roommate. 

The tee shirt reminds her of herself, and how passionate she was about horses when she was young. I’d like to assume that the same energy will be reinstated when she wears this shirt again.