What is Make/Use?

Make/Use explores what might occur if we consider not only the aesthetic of the garments we wear, but also the way we use them and the waste we create when we make them.

This ongoing research-through-design project questions conventions of the clothing industry in relation to knowledge-keeping, production practices and material use. Through developing open-source, user-modifiable, zero waste designs, Make/Use aims to empower users of clothing, and challenges them to question the relationships they have with their present and future garments.

The Big Challenges

Make/Use seeks to build a community of early adopters around a new wave of garment/product design strategies that empower users to make, use, remake and reuse. The project centres around the development and testing of an embedded navigational system by which users can formulate a functional understanding of the construction of a garment and its opportunities for manipulation. It explores how the encoding of navigational clues and markers into a garment or product might aid in its facility for creation and modification by the user, thereby enhancing emotional investment and connection, and extending its functional and desirable lifespan.

In addition to further reducing material waste, Make/Use seeks to slow the demand for the production of new consumer goods and materials, to the benefit of global ecologies. Since its beginnings in 2012, the Make/Use project has been testing a simple premise: that zero waste practice might combine with use practice to create clothing that better serves both the user and the environment. Initially conceived as part of Dr Kate Fletcher’s international research project Local Wisdom, Make/Use is now in its third iteration. While each iteration of the project offers outcomes that are complete in themselves, the overall project continues to develop and push the boundaries of what might be possible. All patterns and templates for the creation of the garments in the Make/Use collection are available for download.

The Issue

The fashion and textiles industry is the second largest generator of pollution and waste in the world. From textile manufacture through to retail and end-of-life, clothing has a massive impact on both natural and human resources. Make/Use attempts to address waste generation at three stages in the garment life cycle - production, retail, and (dis)use.

In conventional garment production, an average of 15% of the fabric is unused. In 2015 alone, it is estimated that this will add up to around 60 billion square meters of discarded cloth worldwide, from the making of around 80 billion garments. Embodied in each scrap of wasted cloth is the resources used in its own production – when you consider that the amount of water used to make a single T shirt could sustain one person for three years, the accumulative impact is staggering. This understanding of the true value of materials underpins the zero waste philosophy.

Building on current leading research in zero waste design and production strategies, this research also addresses the postproduction part of the garment life cycle. Postproduction waste is generated when garments themselves are discarded, through the disposal of unsold stock, unworn purchases or items that are no longer wanted – the average consumer regularly uses only 30% of the garments in their wardrobe. Research around maker and user practices has informed the development of the Make/Use system, which aims to turn passive consumers into active, informed and emotionally engaged makers and users.

Make/Use @ Objectspace

The Objectspace exhibition presented the research leading to the development of the Make/Use user-centred system, illustrated through a collection of seven garment designs. Each garment has a few simple variables embedded into the one pattern, which can combine to create numerous permutations of the design. The level of complexity of the garment construction can be set by the maker, making the system accessible for beginners while also offering more challenging modifications for experts.

Over four weeks the Make/Use design team worked in the gallery designing and making zero waste garments and leading weekend workshops that engaged participants with the practical application of the zero waste garment concept. Through encouraging visitors and participants, including novice sewers, to make their own simple but experimental garments, Make/Use hopes to assist others to re-evaluate their understanding of making, wearing, modifying and designing clothing.


Meet the Make/Use team

Holly McQuillan

Holly McQuillan

Holly McQuillan is a designer, maker, writer and facilitator, who works primarily in the field of sustainable design practice. She is a Senior Lecturer at Massey University School of Design, teaching across all levels; undergraduate, post-graduate, as well as delivering master-classes to the public. Her work often explores risk taking in the context of fashion design as a way of discovering new ways of viewing and creating the world we live in. Holly is a leader the field of Zero Waste Fashion, curating and designing for exhibits of contemporary zero waste fashion design practice and co-authoring the first book on Zero Waste Fashion Design, to be published by Bloomsbury in late 2016. She believes that the issues faced by the fashion industry are a reflection of the even bigger problems confronting the world, so 'if people like us don’t change the way we do things and show others how to change, then all that’s left are the kinds of people who got us into this mess in the first place'.



Jen Archer-Martin

Jen Archer-Martin is a spatial designer, lecturer and researcher at Massey University, Wellington. Her collaborative, interdisciplinary design practice seeks to facilitate temporary installations, events, performances and exhibitions, with experience also in residential architecture and commercial interior design. An emerging researcher, her work operates at the intersection of design, health, education and hospitality, and centres around the health and wellbeing of interconnected ecologies – human, non-human and environmental. Jen's contributions to MakeUse include development of the overall system (embedded navigation; decoding of garment permutations; development of grid & template system), cognitive tools (video animations), exhibition furniture, workshop series and overall exhibition design.

Greta Menzies

Greta Menzies

Greta Menzies is a Wellington based artist/designer. Her work considers the transformational and performative possibilities of bodies and clothing. Future thinking and a concern for sustainable practice inform her work. She has worked freelance for the last eight years as a textile designer for various labels, as well as continuing her own projects spanning textiles, jewellery, visual and performance art, and film.


karl kane

Karl Kane

Karl Kane's research focuses on service, experience and social design, civic participation and brand communication. He leads and facilitates the brand communication and experience suite of papers as part of the BDes (Hons) degree, and specialises in contextual-studio and work-integrated teaching and learning modes. His personal research interests primarily sits within the area of 21st Century Citizenship. He teaches in the visual communication degree and consults/mentors within Open Lab, with a focus on service, experience and social design.

Jo Bailey 2

Jo Bailey

Jo is a lecturer and designer at Massey University School of Design in Wellington. She's interested in facilitating access to information through design, whatever format or form that takes. With a former-life degree in Geography, she has a strong interest in the environment and conservation. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Science and Society at Victoria University of Wellington. She believes in making things as simple as they can be, but not simpler.




Emma Fox Derwin 2

Emma Fox-Derwin

As a Industrial Design lecturer and product designer, Emma Fox Derwin's  practice concentrates on furniture design targeting new cross-disciplinary approaches to flat-pack furniture design through new materials and construction methods. Her work pushes the boundaries of furnite design through functional designs that both challenge the way we relate to and use the objects in our daily lives. Emma's work has been presented at both national and international exhibition venues including Designjunction - London Design Festival, Salone Satellite - Milan, and both ObjectSpace and the Dowse Art Museum on different occasions. Currently Emma is developing new prototypes exploring flat-packed principles through the intersection of typologies and materials not typically associated with this niche of furniture design. 



Jason O'Hara

Straddling the worlds of art and design, Jason's work is predominately focused on our relationship with nature and to each other. His work employs digital media, photography, video and spacial design to document, analyse and educate with reoccurring thematics of environmental advocacy, anthropology, whakapapa, science and music. He has worked in some of the countries leading design firms and has won numerous national and international awards as well as exhibiting in prominent galleries in New Zealand and around the Pacific. In May 2011 he was selected to join eight of New Zealand’s leading artists on a trip to the Kermadec Islands culminating in the major touring exhibition "Kermadec - lines in the ocean". He is a Senior Lecturer at the Massey University, Collage of Creative Arts and lives in the seaside community of Breaker Bay, Wellington, with his wife and three children.




Bonny Stewart MacDonald

Bonny Stewart-MacDonald

Bonny Stewart-MacDonald is a photographer and stylist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She completed a Bachelor of Design learning how to "make" photographs, a Master of Fine Arts thesis thinking about why and then taught both approaches at tertiary level. Contemporary and historical still life has always driven her art practice along with storytelling with diverse photographic processes and images.




Thank you


Massey University
Creative New Zealand

Make/Use student designers in residence

Isaac Dalkie
Alana Cooper 

Research assistants

Annabelle Fitzgerald  [garment]
Grace Redgrave [garment]
Sarah Cook [textile]
Brendan Knight [space/object]
Glenn Catchpole [space/object]
Tom Rutledge [object]
Isaac Dalkie [graphic]
Mon Patel [film]




Technical support

Robertina Downes [stitch]
Carol Stevenson [garment]
Jess Lewis [garment]
Amy Sio-Atoa  [textile]
Ken Howe [space/object]
Oliver Blair [film]
Massey University 3D Workshop [space/object]
Massey University Textiles and Fashion Departments [garment/textile]
Stephen Brookbanks & Miki Glowacki @ Object Support [space] 

Photoshoot & film

Sophie McElwain-Wilson @ Kirsty Bunny [model: photo]
Hannah Dellow @ Kirsty Bunny [model: film]
Libby McLeod @ Willis York [hair]
Elise MacMillan [makeup]
I Love Paris [footwear]
Vanessa Arthur, Fran Carter [jewellery]



Thank you also to

Naiomi, Philip and Doris @ Objectspace
Lela, Courtney @ Lela Jacobs
Han @ Josi Faye
Think Positive Digital Prints
Sew Love Tea Do
Brother NZ
Mary, Anna and Alana @ Nancy's
Peter @ AUT Textile & Design Lab
Graham @ Auckland Girl's Grammar
Matt, Ian & Abbey @ Metal Construction
Jonathan @ Autex
Janine and Clive @ Paper Source
Sam and Yvette @ Mainfreight
Work I shop
Dave Moreland
Sal and John

Our workshop participants

And all our friends and families for being awesome!



Terms used on this page