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INTERVIEW: STINE RIPEGUTU

An important question I’ve been asking my self is: Can it be changed?

We had a chat with OsloMet graduate Stine Ripegutu about her graduate collection, sustainability and her personal 14-piece wardrobe project

ENVELOPE by Lotte Fuhre Ellingsen

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First, tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you want to study fashion and production? My name is Stine Ripegutu, I’m 23 y/o and I live in Oslo. I’m from a little town in the south of Norway. I’ve always been creative and in secondary school I started experimenting with clothing. That was my way to express myself. I got my own sewing machine and started making my own clothes, mostly redesign. In high school I studied drama, but I was mostly into making the costumes. After high school I decided to go to folk high school to study Design and Fashion, to find out if fashion was something I wanted to do or not. I heard about the OsloMet Fashion and Production programme there, and it felt natural to apply.

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What’s the theme for your graduation collection? The theme for my collection is overuse and overproduction in the fashion industry. An important question I’ve been asking my self is: Can it be changed? Is it possible to make clothing that people can use, but that won’t be a part of the overuse in the fashion industry? These questions are saying something about environment, but you’re not using the word directly. It feels like a more concrete approach.

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Describe your collection and how you worked to show your theme? My bachelor is inspired by a personal project I started in 2017, where I reduced my wardrobe to contain as few pieces as possible. I ended up with having 13 everyday pieces. I’ve used these as a base for the collection. I’ve worked a lot with these clothes on a mannequin, combined with lots of drawing and material-tryouts. I’ve also worked with the theoritical, to give what I do a value. Theories that state my thoughts about environment and consumption. I’ve been observing stores on how they communicate sales and how they present their goods. The design is inspired by this. I’ve also talked to friends and family to hear what they think so I could get a better understanding of the theme I’ve been exploring.

The collection was primarily made for women, but as I worked with it I saw that some of the pieces could also be used by men, so I opened the possibilities for this. The collection is thought to be distributed through rental, and not to be sold in a store as clothes normally is. I made this decision so I, as a designer, can have more freedom with the design without influencing the environment. The customer can experiment with good quality pieces without having to pay lots of money.

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Overuse and sustainability is a big theme in the fashion industry now a days – what do you think stores and brands can do to help lowering the overuse?

I think it’s important that the brands, and especially the big chains, gets better at design. They should investigate more on what always ends up in the sale and why. There’s a reason why some pieces ends up in the sale and you can often guess it before it’s even gone on sale. I percieve that the pieces that go on sale often look good on the hanger, but it’s not flattering at all when you put it on. I also think it would’ve helped if the stores were smaller and more specialized in what they’re selling. That makes it easier for them to guide the customer to buy pieces they’ll keep a long time and avoid bad purchases.

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You have a personal project where you only use 14 everyday clothes, how does this work and how did you get the idea? I got the idea spring 2016. We had a project about sustainability in school, and I asked myself how many pieces you really need. I started with writing a list of everything I needed. This list included everything from outerwear, workout clothes, everyday clothes and wool underwear. Regular underwear wasn’t in the counting. I ended up with 35 pieces, and 13 of these were everyday pieces. It took a little longer to reduce my wardrobe than I thought because it was important for me that it was going to be a wardrobe that I would be able to live comfortably with for a year. I started in january 2017 and after one year I changed some of the pieces. One of the things I found out I needed was a basic t-shirt. I’m comfortable with my project and I want to keep doing it. It’s become a lifestyle. Now I have 14 everyday pieces and I have a rule that if I get something new, I have to keep it for at least a year before I can change it, and I’m not going to increase the number of pieces. If I want to use other clothes, I’ll have to borrow from friends or rent from concepts like fjong.co – a company that rents out clothes.

By reducing my wardrobe I wanted to test my own limits for what I, a normal person, really needs. How few pieces of clothing you can live with without feeling uncomfortable. I wanted to see what my need for renewing myself was when I didn’t have an «unlimited» access to clothing.

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If others wants to test this out, what pieces should they keep and what pieces can they get rid of from your experience? It’s important to have a wardrobe where all the pieces can be combined. Find out how many of each piece you need. Take care of the pieces you use a lot and know that you’re comfortable to wear. If you want a minimal wardrobe like me, I’ve found out that it’s not that smart to have really special and extravagant pieces. An example is a pair of trousers I had that was made out of lots of old pants sewn together. It was really cool, but I ended up not using it that much because it was to special. It only gave one expression, and that ended up quite boring after a while, so it ended up being changed with a more useful and basic pair of pants.

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What’s your best tips for other people that wants to be more sustainable in the way they shop and dress? My best tip is to buy less but better. Reduce your consumption and think about it twice if you’re in doubt. Ask yourself if it can be combined with what you’ve already got in your wardrobe. You don’t have to be as extreme as me, everything helps.

What are your plans further in the fashion industry? I want to work with sustainability in the fashion industry. How can we change our consumption pattern. The plan is to study one year of economy and then do a master in fashion and sustainability. Then we’ll see where life brings me