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Breathing New Life Into Old Clothes | Shannan MacKenzie-Hall’s Sustainable Fashion Journey

Breathing new life into old clothes.


For self-proclaimed “avid thrifter” Shannan MacKenzie-Hall, that is the crux behind the biggest and hottest trend of 2020: Sustainable Fashion.


“A big problem in fashion today is that a lot of fabrics and materials are being mass produced, and anything not used by designers is just being back stocked or getting disposed of in the wrong ways,” explained the 22-year-old aspiring designer, who recently graduated from Toronto Film School’s Fashion Design Diploma program.



“My personal connection to sustainability is mostly about using what already exists…I personally want to focus on using existing clothing and existing materials and giving them a new life.”


With that aim in mind, MacKenzie-Hall designed Decades Denim – her “simple, ready-to-wear” capstone collection “with a statement vibe to it” – using textiles sourced solely from hand-me-down donations and discontinued fabrics.


“I knew that I really wanted to use a lot of repurposed fabrics and garments for my collection, so…I used fabrics that my mom had donated from all of her friends, which was also a really good way to save money,” she said.



“I personally think that all garments have a story and a journey, and I wanted to explain that with each piece, and show that, despite them being thrown away by someone else, they can be revived into something totally new.”


MacKenzie-Hall recently invited Toronto Film School to preview select pieces from her sky-inspired Decades Denim collection, which incorporates themes of stacking and layering.


Here’s what she had to say about some of the collection’s stand-out pieces:


1) Jump-ring Constructed Jacket – “I wanted to play with the idea of using the traditional paneling idea, but playing with minimal constructions and themes. So, all of the panels in this jacket are clean finished. I used four different pairs of jeans in this one, and played with the different colours, and then I constructed them with just the rings and the grommets. So, really, the only costs were with metal materials that I used and the orange lining, which is a discontinued fabric from Fabricland.”



2) Denim Skirt – “This is what inspired the collection, and was my first idea for the collection. I’m personally a big denim collector, and I had a lot of jeans at home that either weren’t the right fit any more, or weren’t the style that I wanted, and I wanted to think of something unique to do with them. As I was cutting them up for other pieces, I realized I didn’t have much to do with the other detailings, like the pockets and waist bands, so this skirt came to life using all the different size jeans I got and piecing them all together. I also really liked playing with all the different mixed metals in it as well…and I played with displacing the buttons on it.”


3) Top – “This piece is just a simple top, and it’s going to be paired in the fashion show with an undershirt that’s fully mesh. I wanted to play a lot with layering in this piece, to tie back into the stacking and layering inspiration for the collection. For this one, I used three different waistbands and four different pairs of jeans.”


4) Layered Dress – “I really wanted to incorporate the kind of style when you cuff your jeans at the bottom, so that’s the kind of idea that I was going for here. I was also playing with the stacking and layering, as well. I wanted to move the pockets around and play with them in different ways and see how I could incorporate them differently.”



With the completion date of both her Decades Denim collection and her Fashion Design studies fast approaching, MacKenzie-Hall said she now looks back on her 18-month stint at Toronto Film School as a time of “immense growth.”


“I went from not knowing how to sew anything, to being able to sew what I think are really quality garments – pieces that I would personally wear and would love to see on the runway, on celebrities, and on people I know in everyday life,” she said.


“I’m really excited (for the future), because I have a lot of ideas for other collections. Right now, I’m currently in the design process for Spring 2021 – so yeah, big things to come. I’m excited to share how Toronto Film School has shaped me into the designer I’ve become.”




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