This story is part of Next Generation, a series in which we give young makers a platform to showcase their work. Your work here? Get in touch and plot your coordinates as we navigate our future together.
Shirp (Shira David) is a recent graduate from Drexel University who graduated with a B.S. in Fashion Design with a focus in textile engineering. Their work blossomed after 2 years of fabricating bio-materials with the hopes of evoking consumer consciousness. The result, the collection ShirpShiro. The project is fueled by the passion to find realistic solutions to the humanitarian and environmental issues in the textile and fashion industries. ShirpShiro was inspired by mycelium networks and how important connection is to keep a habitat flourishing and symbolically working with and for the whole. The majority of the collection is biodegradable, consisting of algae latex, mica/charcoal pigments, kombucha leather, and ahimsa silk. We caught up with Shirp to find out more.
Tell us about your creative process.
My art is and has always been inspired by my dreams, whether they are a daydreaming fantasy world or magical sagas while I sleep, they come to our reality via creative outlets. I sketch and journal together, so my hand is connected to my heart, the visual is a mirror to my soul in that moment. The collection ShirpShiro came about after 9 months of research and development, while investigating my role in the larger structure of the world. Bio-materials are very fluid in construction and they often act in an uncontrollable manner, so while working with them, I have to let the material choose where its going and how it will look after it has dried. For this reason the material in my collection really was allowed to speak for itself.
How did your work develop with the biomaterials?
I began my studies with biomaterials two years ago, while I was deep into my search of sustainable solutions for the textile crisis. There are plenty of free and easy to access recipes for biomaterials on the internet, so I began exploring what I could do from the comfort of my makeshift lab at home. I was able to grow mycelium from a grow kit into high heel molds, pour algae solutions onto dress forms, and shape kombucha around d-rings to form necklaces. For 9 months I tested how to develop these materials into walkable functional garments, and after lots of trail work, it finally came together. Bio-material can be sewn, poured to fit a shape, and most importantly it is a temporary fashion!
Us as humans are social creatures, connected to the world around us, like mycelium creates communication through an entire forest, people are also always telling a story in search of comfort in connection.
Tell us about the space age aesthetics.
I am drawn to clothing and art that is very alien and otherworldly. The bunny motif is seen in two of the looks, like a rabbit in nature or a gimp bunny in BDSM. I am inspired by BDSM culture and the extreme essence of it. The "extreme" concept has also been seen in fashion and nature (in itself is very chaotic and mercurial) I see the unity and connection in everything. Currently my aesthetics are drawn to such: alien, sex, and nature. Everything comes from reproduction. Mother Earth has given every organic life the means to create and recreate, so I think it’s beautiful to put such ideas into fashion. Us as humans are social creatures, connected to the world around us, like mycelium creates communication through an entire forest, people are also always telling a story in search of comfort in connection.
Who is the ShirpShiro collection for?
My clothing is meant to make a statement about the crisis in fashion and textiles. I want anyone that has any sort of platform to bring light to such a dark topic. The clothing is for those who seek change and revolution through circular living and unity.
I want to be part of a reality that brings biodegradable materials into common and everyday application.
How do you envision our material futures evolving?
I want to be part of a reality that brings biodegradable materials into common and everyday application. Most people when they hear “biodegradable clothing” they turn their nose up at the idea of it, when it’s already currently studied and developed to be palatable for consumers. I know bio-materials will be way more widespread on the market in the next few years, and I hope innovation and research will bring even more sources to create a circular world for materials globally.
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