About forgotten design Part 1/6 - Color

To make reconstructed and recycled fashions truly fashionable you cannot forget design. No matter what materials or techniques used the finished product must have the design appeal. Too often crafters and recycle fashion labels just make stuff from recycled materials, but they hardly ever qualify as recycle design. It´s really a shame as I know how much time, money and recources it takes to make the product.

The main reason to go and show my work at Helsinki recycle fair Kierrätystehdas was to show that recycle fashions can be so much more than just tote bags made from 70´s curtains or something similary boring.. I never make anything if I feel the design is not strong enough. I´m sure not everyone likes my trashion fashions, but there are so many different tastes that it´s impossible to please everyone. I have established a few rules that can help you to make your recycle crafts and fashions more designer looking. I thought it´s about time I share them with you. In order to do this I feel I have give you some examples on do´s and dont´s (my opinion) recycle fashions so you understand my point. I hope this does not offend anyone as it is purely intended to be as constructive critisism on my part. For better sales and also help you take your recycle crafts to the next level. The challenge is to be able to design something that even your not-so-recycle-or-vintage-oriented fashionista friends would buy and wear. Always aim for design level that would be stylish enough to be featured in Vogue or Elle editorials!


Color is essential in any design. No matter what your material or technique is it is ruined if you choose wrong colors or color combination. If you have to combine several materials in your works, use only different hues of the same color or color harmonies. They are easier on the eye. If your material can be painted or dyed use it to complete your color harmony.

Colors and color combinations can be studied and I feel that color knowlidge is essential to any pro or semi-pro designers. To find inspiration look up sites and blogs that are specialized in colors, like the wonderful Kris´s Color Stripes. Kris uses photos to create color pallettes for designers to use, much like an inspiration board. As you can see it´s not all just hues of one color, that there are contrasts, but they are in harmony (same hue, saturation, brightness/dullness, contrasts).

The colors I use in my works are usually black, and different hues of gray, blue, red/violet/pink, white and metallics. I never use orange or a lot of yellow in my designs as I find it to be very difficult to wear as a scandinavian. If I was designing for a latin american customer base or my collection inspiration would come from an another culture, the color base would be different.

Color can also be used to combine different surfaces, styles and patterns. For example differently patterned fabrics can be combined in the same item if the colors match. Preferably they should be the same color sceme. When doing so, the patterns are "lost" in the combining color and make the design more focused in form. Let´s take necktie creations as an example. Secondhand neckties are an abundant material that can be accuired in virtually any color or pattern if you spent just a little more time when shopping for material. Still I often see neckties used in recycle fashions with out any concideration on color. When the colors are discarded, the design looks mostly just messy and restless. People see only neckties and not stylish design. But with a balanced and harmonious color sceme, the viewer no longer sees the neckties but concentrates on the form and surface of the piece. In best case they do not even realize the garment is made by using neckties!

Don´t. Some necktie designs I´ve seen have over 8 colors (in patterned fabrics) used which is way too many for one item. If the ties were not paterned, the color sceme would work better. I would still somehow organize them.

Do. Two to three harmonious colors plus contrast color, one color harmony or two color harmonies combined.

Necktie patchwork handbag by shesu2008.

One of my own necktie creations, color harmony with organized sliding shades of blue, gray and gold.

Black quilt by Mandy Joe.

Necktie scarf by Liliana Sterfield.

Outi Les Pyy

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1 comment:

  1. Jes! Tämä oli niin asiaa. Jatkoa odotellessa :D.