As a textile designer I am aware of the pollution and waste of the industry I am in, in particular when it comes to embellishments. The majority of buttons, sequins and beads are made of plastic and/or problematic natural sources.
While researching suitable alternatives, I found shells to have that potential yet taking them directly from the beach was not sustainable as it would affect their role in the ecosystem they belong to. I decided to then make use of seafood waste from local restaurants as this would virtually help close the loop in the industries of both textiles and food service. After experimenting with the remains of various crustaceans and molluscs, I found a way to utilise primarily oyster shells as they provided me with a powder similar to kaolin clay, if broken to pieces, to create a ceramic-like material.
I aimed to create pieces shaped like precious and vintage-looking embellishments to further dissociate the outcomes from their original, discarded source in order to truly show the versatility and value of the bio-material; to then celebrate the oysters fully, I created re-generated pearls to mimic the animals’ natural mechanisms. This is how the name Re-Pearls came to be.
With my design, I hope to change the designers and the customers’ awareness on embellishments’ sourcing; these, while traditionally small in size, play a big role in turning the industry’s products both precious and detrimental to the environment. I equally hope to shine a light on a new kind of luxurious re-generated materials in order to limit the exploitation of natural resources in the future.