Amy Twigger Holroyd approaches fashion with sharing in mind. In one project, she created garments that could be shared by friends with different body types. By making clothes that don’t constrict in places where people vary the most, a size six could potentially share her sweater with a size 16. Yep. Her project basically takes the magic out of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (Unless you count buying a pricey sweater with the express intent of sharing it with friends a different kind of magic, which I certainly do.)
But Holroyd’s projects go beyond one-size-fits-all couture. Her PhD research on “fashion as a commons” is an exploration of how to democratize and disrupt the clothing industry. “If you’re not able to make, you’re dependent on buying,” she says. “And if you’re dependent on buying, you’re dependent on what those people [in the fashion industry] have chosen -- the quality of it, the design of it, the aesthetic of it.”
And so, under the umbrella label Keep & Share, she teaches folks how to fix and knit their own clothing, creates and sells long-lasting, sharable clothing, and hacks into cheap knitwear to send a message about the industry. Thanks to the independence of PhD funding, Holroyd is trying to figure out how to make this work in the real world without, you know, tanking her business in the meantime.
Holyroyd has been working and thinking about sustainable fashion since 2003 and describes her job as “designer-maker-researcher -- lots of hyphens.” I was curious about Holroyd’s experiments and called her up. Here’s our edited conversation.
Q. I first came across your work with sharable clothing in Fashion and Sustainability. Judging from your website, your work is much broader than that.
A. My design philosophy has always been about trying to help people get more out of each item of clothing, but to do it in a gentle way. There are some approaches like creating clothes to be multifunctional -- it’s one thing then it transforms into something else. Whereas, I have always tried to take a more gentle approach. I try to create things that can be shared between purposes. So a garment which you feel comfortable and happy wearing in different situations. And also things that can be worn by different people so they can be handed down over time.