Sustainable Costume Design

Christina Hill

The world currently contains more clothing than its population could ever need, with the UK sending 350,000 tonnes to landfill each year, and whatever you need for your show is probably already out there! It will most likely be more time consuming than dropping items into your ASOS basket, but that extra time will get you thinking more about your design and the elements of it which are most important to you and to the production. In many cases, designing more sustainably will not only be kinder to the planet but better for your budget and some of these tips can even be incorporated into your own style habits.

1. Use what you have at home

The classic school play approach, but the cheapest and most sustainable! This will be most designers’ go-to for things like shoes and contemporary men’s suits that are expensive and need to fit well and basics like white shirts but can be utilised more creatively for costumes of any period.

I’ve often turned to my own or my relatives’ wardrobes, particularly for generic accents like belts or ties, but you can also build more substantial costumes from the actors’ wardrobes. I’ve found that some actors love working on this with me and have a natural knack for it and some get totally freaked out by being given a style brief and turn up with one generic item.

Pros: free, guaranteed to fit and be comfortable, you don’t have to worry about disposal