Top 100 Project 2019

How can we extend the use of fashion textile products through narrative design?

Every charity shop has a surfeit of these: the polyester blouse. Selecting them one-by-one from the High Street and from textile sorting centres, Becky Earley has given them a new lease of life – upcycling them (or remanufacturing them) – through print design. Over the years what began as a personal textiles recycling project, has become a highly collaborative international research project.

The Top 100 project began in 1999 as a small studio-based project for my Becky Earley’s B.Earley label. Now, 20 years later, it serves as a vehicle for her practice-based textiles research; she makes the shirts in order to experiment with circular design approaches and create new insights and models to share. Dividing 100 shirts into a series of mini collections has meant that Becky could explore and evolve different narratives and concepts, taking time to work slowly through the many inter-connected ideas and theories that support the circular economy for textiles and fashion.

The shirts have been widely exhibited internationally including: London (Science Musuem; Crafts Council Gallery); Birmingham (Museum & Art Gallery); Manchester (Whitworth Museum and Art Gallery); Dublin (Science Gallery); Tilburg (Audax Textile Museum); New York (Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology); Oklahoma (Price Tower Arts Centre); Rhode Island (Museum of Art).