Making clothes usually means laying pattern pieces on the fabric, cutting them out, and creating a lot of waste in the process. But not for Sarah Brunnhuber. To help address fashion’s waste problem, the textile designer founded Stem, a zero-waste garment production process. The system was formed at Design Academy Eindhoven, where she studied her degree, and developed in labs and workshops across London and Italy before finally landing as an established concept in Copenhagen.
Working exclusively with recycled natural fibres to ensure biodegradability, Brunnhuber’s production method involves weaving the pattern pieces directly into the cloth, eliminating off-cuts. Because the fabric is created with a loose weave, the ‘spare’ edges unravel into fringing: a waste-saving detail which has become an unmistakable signature. With Stem, Brunnhuber is “striving towards true renewal within the fashion industry”. Pieces are created to a pre-order system to avoid making anything that won’t be worn, and even loose threads are used within packaging.
Tone-on-tone weaves and the disorder of the fringing combine as the makings of what some might call ‘statement’ pieces, but the foundational lines and silhouettes are deceptively simple, steering away from the trap and inevitable finality of trends. Introducing a new system into an enormous, pre-existing machine isn’t easy, but the launch of a three-piece collection in collaboration with fellow Copenhagen brand Ganni this year undoubtedly secures a foot in the door for this pioneer..
Text Sophie Benson