Piper H Hartman

Bursting at the Seams: An Exploration of Feelings and Fast Fashion

April 2, 2021   /  

Student Name: Piper H Hartman
Major(s): Studio Art
Minor(s): Education
Advisor: Cassidy Ely

My independent study addresses my concerns about the fast fashion industry by sewing new garments out of secondhand clothing. This process acted as a catalyst to work through previously avoided emotions and to explore my aversion to those emotions head on, whether past or present. My inclination to avoid the hard parts of life up to this point was clearly not an effective way of living, and I wanted to change the way I feel and think about my emotions.

For the physical element of my independent study, I created eight garments out of clothing purchased from secondhand stores that I disassembled and remade into new pieces. The question I asked myself as inspiration was how I could make unique pieces while using the most sustainable methods and materials? After spending months on this topic, I cannot say that I have a definitive answer, but I have examined small ways that I can try my best to be conscious about my purchases and maybe inspire others along the way. As I progressed through the work, I developed a deeper understanding of ways to combat fast fashion and express my emotions.

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Piper will be online to field comments on April 16: 10am-noon EDT (Asia: late evening, PST 6am-8am, Africa/Europe: late afternoon)

79 thoughts on “Bursting at the Seams: An Exploration of Feelings and Fast Fashion”

  1. So proud of you, Piper! Such a raw and beautiful project, and I cannot wait to see what you make next!! <3

  2. Do you have thoughts on how we change the fashion culture to do this on a large scale? I am not sure if it is a financially viable option.

    1. That’s a really good question! I think in order to change a number of things need to happen. Since the fashion industry relies on the consumer for revenue, we as the consumers would need to stop our purchases from fast fashion brands. The problem with that is that it’s rather unrealistic. Buying high quality + sustainable goods is often expensive and in saying that we should simply “stop buying from fast fashion companies” that does not take into account individuals who can’t pay $75+ every time they need a new pair of pants. Answering honestly and with all of that in mind, I don’t have a large scale solution other than industry changing as a whole, which is unlikely. I think a good approach to making more sustainable fashion choices is to start on an individual level with caring for the clothes you already have, buying only necessary items and investing in high quality garments if you are financially able to. That’s a really important question to be asking and I am definitely going to continue my research to look into some possible solutions to the fast fashion industry on a big scale.

  3. Wow Piper!! I love the concept and the fashion looks amazing! Your sustainable outlook is so inspiring. Keep it up!

  4. Awesome work Piper! I love the combination of sustainability and emotions. I like the creative names for the pieces of work themselves too.

  5. I am a high school counselor enjoying my time with Wooster senior projects. One of the tour guides earlier this morning recommended your site and I’m glad I visited. I am a thrift store aficionado and have been since middle school, in my own way recycling clothing and other goods to aid sustainability. Your bold colors were quite appealing fashion-wise, Piper, and the idea of repurposing (re)usable is most welcome. May you continue to challenge those “hard parts of life” and land in a zone of continued self-respect and personal striving

    1. Thank you for stopping by Cigus! I’m always glad to meet another second hand clothing enthusiast and I will continue to examine the hard parts in life and hopefully land in a space of learning and striving.

  6. Hi Piper – what a collection! Here are some of my favorite parts, and I’d love to hear what YOUR favorite parts are:
    * The turtle sort of hiding near the hem of emerald middle
    * The emotional broken heart in unwillingly lenient
    * the complementary masks (great idea to make it all relevant)
    What I want to know more about:
    * the two sides (of the brain?!) in the hood
    * the source fabric for lucky reminder – it looks so old-fashioned (but of course, modernly updated 🙂 – is it a curtain????
    * Can I commission you to make Ellie a pair of technically plaid shorts??? (Are they lined? incredible!)

    You can be so proud of your ideas & execution. Hope maybe to see a few of these pieces “in person”, too. Thanks for sharing this with us!!! xxoo Lisa

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lisa! I’m glad there were certain details you connected with! The two sides of the brain are meant to represent some of my future plans. I’ve always viewed myself as creative and artistic (right brained) and I’ve never considered myself particularly skilled in left brain activities like math or science. As I try to figure out what I want focus on as a career I feel myself slipping away from my creative left brain side and leaning into my right brain side to have a steady job which honestly scares me a little. It was meant represent my very current inner battle of trying to find a job that uses my creativity while providing stability. The lucky reminder fabric is leftover from curtains that my parents had in their room when I was growing up. That was a good guess! And of I would love to design a cool pair of shorts for Ellie! I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the pieces!!

  7. Congratulations, Piper! This is a great way to inspire folks to think about how we consume fast fashion. I absolutely love the turquoise dress.

  8. Hello Piper—There is so much of interest in your work! Can I say first that you’ve introduced me to a new term: fast fashion? I love what you’ve created to respond to that and to work through emotions. Creating is such a positive act, and I feel that positive thrust in your choice to refashion secondhand clothing and in the patterns, colors, ideas and messages you’ve incorporated in these new pieces. Congratulations on your innovation and introspection in this project. I look forward to hearing more about it and what else you might be planning when I see you next!

    1. I’m so glad you were able to learn a little something new! My hope for this project was that it would inspire or inform those who read/looked at it! I loved having the creating portion accompanied with the written portion, when I struggled with one aspect I’d switch to the other for a little break. Hope to see you soon!

  9. Piper:

    Having watched you work on and through this project from its beginning, we couldn’t be more proud of your passion, creativity and final products–A true labor of love that you will carry forward in many parts of your life! You have opened our eyes to things we didn’t see or know before. Thank you!! Keep spreading your important message and continue your fight no matter how “big” or daunting” the other side can seem. Others will join you. Awesome job!

    P.S. I love the hidden turtle, too…

    1. Hi! Thanks for the comment and all of your help along the way! I’m glad you were able to learn something new from it!

  10. Hi Piper, I really enjoyed this and would love to share it with my high school daughter, who would be thrilled to see your outfits and learn more about your work. Thank you so much!

  11. I am so proud of you! All of these pieces are amazing! I cannot wait to see all of the wonderful things you do in the future!

    1. Thank you Blakely! I can’t wait to see all of the awesome things you do at Woo!

  12. Piper this is truly INCREDIBLE! I am so happy and proud of you! Congratulations Pips!

    1. Thank you so much Cam! I’m glad we were able to talk about our ISs together and I’m excited to check yours out as well!

  13. I thought you already were confronting the hard parts of your life head-on. But you should feel proud of any renewed concentration on the hard emotional things…which are hard. 8 is ambitious. And so many varied styles and approaches…and sewing techniques? (I think you know my fave). Your Dad said you really put your whole curious self into this endeavor. Well done.

    It strikes me that fashion (what I am wearing today) doesn’t really enable me to tell an interesting story about me…and that maybe there is an opportunity for people to wear something (and for you to craft something) that prompts others to ask about “the story” (besides “where did you buy that and how much?”). Am I naive in thinking that fashion today doesn’t really do that? Other things you wear seem to have a more interesting narrative…watches and jewelry…and of course concert Ts!

    You may enjoy this podcast which has some interesting historical commentary woven (see what I did there) in with economics.

    1. Hi Doug! Those are all interesting points but I think your point about everyday fashion not expressing yourself is interesting. I go into more detail about this in the written portion of my project but I think the idea of clothing telling a story could be looked at in a number of different ways. A story could be a narrative that the clothes tells to others or memories you’ve had in the clothing themselves. An example of this is my favorite item of clothing that I own is a ratty old Skyfall t-shirt. It doesn’t have a huge backstory and I don’t think anyone has thoughts about it other than it’s an old beat up t-shirt but to me it reminds me of being in high school, the thrift store I bought it at and it has slowly become my lucky shirt that I where on important days. I believe that in order for fashion to have meaning or to tell a story, it simply needs to be on you. By waking up and making a choice to put on certain clothes you can feel confident, comfortable, professional, rebellious and the list goes on. In many ways you create your own clothing story each day.

      I recommend checking out the book ”Worm Stories” by Emily Spivack. It’s an interesting take on simple clothing items, the meaning they hold and stories they tell.

      I’ll definitely check out the podcast and thank you for your comment!

  14. Piper your work is incredible! I love how you took the broader topics of sustainability and fast fashion and then personalized your project through the lens of processing your own emotions. The pieces you created are so beautiful.

    I’m curious how the pandemic influenced your project — do you think your project would have followed a similar theme of processing emotions had the pandemic not happened? How do you think your project would have been different?

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Ellie and thank you for your amazing paper editing skills!

      That’s an interesting question! I actually switched the focus of my topic half way through to include the fast fashion portion but to also highlight the emotional part even more. The pandemic heightened everything I was feeling and I continually found myself being inspired by the tough aspects of the pandemic. I think that the project would have a bit more surface level if this year had not been a pandemic.

  15. I saw your work in person, and I must say…. WONDERFUL. The creativity and consideration you have presented in this project is amazing. I’ve definitely reviewed my own wardrobe and understanding of sustainable clothing in light of your project. Thanks for your work!

    1. I’m so glad you had a chance to see it in person and that it made you think about your own fashion! Thanks for your comment Jenelle!!

  16. Not only are the clothes amazing, so too are the photographs. I also loved the inclusion of masks, really showcases how this year has altered your I.S. When did you make the decision to include the masks or was it something you did automatically?

    1. I’m glad you like the pieces Marloes! The masks were actually somewhat of a last minute addition. I had completed my pieces and was speaking with my advisor and I realized they needed something that brought them into present day. Adding the masks also hid the face of my model which made the focus more on the clothes and the poses and less on the model!

  17. Barbara Hartman (Mom)
    Piper, since you were 4 years old and leading a group of adults through a craft project, you have followed your creative abilities and heart faithfully. That is no easy feat! Congratulations on a job so very, very, WELL DONE! I appreciate and love your curiosity and tenacity to understand the things that are important to you and your ability to raise awareness for others.
    You know my fave is the emerald green hidden turtle dress – watching the transformation from pantsuit to dress was a blast! The pleather skort is my other fave.
    Whatever you do, hold fast to what is important to you. Remember, you can do more than one thing at a time or at different times in your life. You’ve got this girl! So proud of you!
    Mom xoxo

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment!! I agree with being able to do more than one thing at a time. It’s hard to see that sometimes so it’s a good reminder! Thanks for all of your input along the way!!

  18. Beautiful work, Piper! I especially loved “Universal Comfort,” “Unwillingly Lenient,” and “Mismanaged Dungarees,” as well as the fact that you included masks with every item. ¡Excelente trabajo! ¡Felicidades!

    1. Universal Comfort is one of my favorites as well so I’m glad you enjoyed it! ¡Muchas gracias por tú comentario, Profesora Garonzik!

  19. Piper,
    I love the way fast fashion spoke to you. You have such creative talent and a social activist awareness. You have woven these two components into your fashion, coming up with something completely new and compelling. This is uniquely you Piper! That is creativity at its best!!!

    1. Thank you for your comment and it was a really interesting process tying these two ideas together, I’m glad you had a chance to check it out!

  20. Oh Piper, I so regret not saving all the clothes I gave away so that I could have given them to you. You are so creative, imaginative, thoughtful and have a highly developed social- conscious. This was a major undertaking and you have accomplished so much with this, not only the practical skills, but the entrepreneurial nature of your work. Can’t wait to see where you take this. So glad you and Wooster were a perfect fit!

    1. Thank you for your kind comment and I definitely would like to combine all my different ideas into one to continue the work in the future!!

  21. Piper! Wow! What beautiful pieces you created while tapping into your raw emotions. This project definitely made me reflect on my consumption of clothing from the fast fashion industry.
    Such a creative project! You should be so proud 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Mari!! I’m glad you were able to reflect on clothing and the fast fashion industry!!

  22. Piper thank you for illuminating a big problem.
    You are so creative and worked so hard.
    Well done.

  23. Hello Piper! This is a very cool project! I love how you tied in both your emotions and an environmental aspect to your art. Do you plan to work with designers in the near future to create more sustainable clothing?

    1. Thanks Sydney! I don’t have any future plans to work with others on sustainable clothing, but I’m constantly looking for a new project so I am going to keep my eyes open!

  24. Hi Piper! This is truly amazing! But I’ve always known about what a talented artist you are. I so admire you for following your passion.
    Where did you source your materials?


    1. Thank you so much! I sourced my material from a variety of places like Goodwill, other small second hand stores around home, hand-me-downs and scouring our attic for any random materials I could use!

  25. Piper, you have shown such creativity. I loved all the outfits, and how you were able to create so many pieces from repurposing the fabric. Keep up the good work!!!

  26. Piper,

    Big fan of your work! I appreciate your passion for sustainability and your utilization of secondhand items to question fast fashion. Your conceptual process shines through the finished pieces. Love ‘Blue Hope’! Congratulations!!!

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Pom! I will have to show you the clothes in person super soon! I, glad you enjoyed the Blue Hope piece, it’s my favorite piece I made!

  27. Congratulations Piper!
    That Monday when I came into Ebert and saw the gallery aglow with your amazing creations was such a delight! It is so interesting to learn more about the concepts behind your work and so important to bring mindfulness to our purchases!

    1. Jodi, thank you for all of your help during the documentation process, I couldn’t have done it with out you! I’m glad you enjoyed the work and the subject matter!

  28. Great job Piper! It’s been fun to see this project at different stages. I hope you continue to create art like this in the future! Congratulations!

  29. Nice job Piper! You have not only opened my eyes to the realities of fast fashion, but many other as well! Your project is a great example of how we can make the world a little better with a bit of care, consideration, and hard work. Awesome way to end a whirlwind senior year! Can’t wait to see in person

  30. This was an amazing topic and the pieces you made are beautiful! I’m so proud of you and can’t wait to see you at graduation! Congrats Piper!

  31. Amazing work, Piper! I am so so so impressed with how your project turned out and I’m obsessed with all of your pieces! So cool and inspired. I’m proud to know you.

    1. Thank you so much Amelia!! Im glad you enjoyed it and we still need to make a corsets!

  32. I loved every bit of your installation when I saw it in Ebert. Such a twist to secondhand clothing, I love it!

  33. Piper this is awesome! You’ve done so much at woo and I can’t wait to see all you do after grad!

  34. Piper! So proud of you and the coolest work i’ve seen! I love you so much, keep doing amazing things and being the amazing person you are! <3

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