It only takes one idea to change a perspective, and RMIT Fashion Design Student Alexandra Hackett is of the few who are redefining sustainable fashion. Forget wool blends, awkward hemlines and shades of brown. Alexandra’s adaptation on ‘upcycling’ fashion is a harmonic fusion of self-expression, hard work and forward thinking.
Hackett’s resourcefulness and skill at repurposing is one to envy – stuck on an island with her with a sewing machine and you will come out more chic than ever. As Hackett calls it – “trash turned fash,” these designs are physical symbols of turning waste into want. And it’s shifting the perception of sustainability to making ‘the unwearable, wearable’ one Astroturf bucket hat at a time.
Like most of her devoted followers, we became privy to Hackett’s designs through her Instagram, under the alias ‘Sheniqua.’ Hackett tells Hessian, “[The name] started off as a joke, but now I feel quite attached to it.” As she reaches her final project for graduation, her popularity is ever growing. Although, is the Insta-name ‘SheniquaDoezInstagram’ a title she wants associated with a potential label? “I think it is more approachable if it’s not professional. It attracts attention. People think, ‘who on earth is this??’ and then they see the designs and say ‘oh, actually, it’s not that bad.’” Hackett says.
Social media plays an important part for any young creative, but you can see how much time and ardor have been put into each one of Hackett’s designs. The fashion student is in her final year and has already got followers eagerly anticipating her next design.
When it comes to sustainability, Hackett isn’t one to preach at her audience, but adapt literal definitions to her life and her work. “I really like definitions because they can be interpreted in many different ways.” When questioned what sustainability means to her, Alexandra Hackett prefaced with the dictionary definition: “Able to be maintained at a certain rate or level. Conserving and ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.” This definition is noticeably apparent when you thumb through Sheniqua’s Instagram profile (the modern day portfolio), you can see how ingeniously she conceptualises an evidently useless item into an expression of literality and revival. Through unconventional materials and broad-minded ideas, Hackett constructs seemingly impossible fashion of banana skin bras, doormat slide-ons, sealed ketchup packet jerseys and security tag sweaters as wearable art. The designs are met with both bewilderment and awe. They merge into something of a new entity; given another breath of life through regeneration; a simple idea is so inventively executed.
Hackett’s clothing not only has apparent style and aim, but also poses a question to the consumer. “Before they throw things out, I want to make them think ‘can I do something else with this?’ and just to get people to question ‘do I need this?’ before they buy something.”
Hackett’s literal designs of wearable artistic expression work well as one-off pieces, but how will Hackett produce these materials into a consumer context? “The key is finding the application in the fashion world that you can make easily and works well with the fabric – like the IKEA bucket hats, I can make them easily enough and they represent the idea [of sustainability] on a small scale.” Hackett says.
So are you always on the scope? “Yes. Always. Everything. Right now there’s a rubber mat over there that I’m eyeing off, I’m just thinking, ‘hmm what can I do with that? Would it be suitable on the body?’ It’s actually an addiction.” However, in the cutthroat world of #fashion it isn’t always endless inspiration and innovation, “sometimes I get really stressed that I’m going to run out of ideas one day, or that someone is going to create something before me.” And a similar thing happened when Jeremy Scott released his McDonald’s range for Moschino for AW14/15. Hackett had been producing McDonald’s sweaters and products long before the high fashion collection was debuted at Milan Fashion Week and was admittedly annoyed upon its release.
As mentioned earlier, Alexandra Hackett is of the few challenging how we perceive sustainability. We’re no longer in denial about recycling and sustainable fashion – it can be transparent and outspoken. As Hackett has shown us, upcycling and repurposing can be chic. The greatest appeal she has with her audience is the perfect weave of candor and creativity.
Alexandra Hackett’s devotion and ‘never-not-working’ attitude to fashion and determination to slip through the gaps to global awareness is what has people taking note. It’s clear that Alexandra Hackett knows no bounds when it comes to recycling materials. From Chux wipe dresses to McDonald’s chip-bag clutches, the limit of her resourcefulness and invention it seems, does not exist.