Jennifer Whitty

Jennifer Whitty

Senior lecturer, Ngā Pae Māhutonga - The School of Design

Jennifer Whitty is an award-winning designer and researcher working in fashion design. She has worked across approaches ranging from garment design/creation (bespoke/couture to mass production) to alternative design strategies, film, performance, installations, workshops, and, more recently, digital interaction.

Whitty focuses on creating new, more flexible and sustainable ways of thinking, creating and responding to clothing that attempts to address the damaging effects of the fashion industry, such as the shortened life span of products, environmental waste, and the loss of traditions. Having worked in the industry in the fashion centres of New York, London and Paris, Whitty has a particular interest in new models of practice that will redefine the future of fashion. She teaches across all four levels of the undergraduate degree programme and as a supervisor on the Masters programme. 

  • Expertise

    Practice based/design led fashion research; sustainable design; waste minimisation techniques for design/construction (zero waste, up cycling); innovative design strategies; interactive fashion design; cross-disciplinary research; emotionally durable design. 

    View Jennifer Whitty's expertise directory profile.

  • Research Highlights

    Local Wisdom (2012-2014)
    Whitty is the co-lead with Holly McQuillan of the Wellington facet of Local Wisdom, an international fashion research project exploring the 'craft of use'. The project was originated by Dr. Kate Fletcher, Reader in sustainable fashion at London College of Fashion. It links a network of partners and design activity in seven centres of high fashion consumption spread across three continents, as it explores satisfying and resourceful practices associated with using clothes.

    Free Flow (2011)
    Free Flow is a three-piece men’s suit, jacket, waistcoat and wrap trousers which incorporates an extension of Whitty’s method of ‘zero waste’ pattern making/design. Whitty devised a method of cutting which uses the excess fabric, traditionally eliminated in Western menswear tailoring design, to extend the physical and metaphorical boundaries of garment. She has produced a suit in one embedded pattern, using less fabric than would normally be used. Spaces on the lay plan allow for personalisation within the confines of zero waste, which enable spontaneous forms to emerge. This empowers the maker and wearer as designer. She was one of 13 international fashion designers invited by the curatorial team to create designs to be featured in one of the first comprehensive survey of zero-waste designers in the world in the travelling group exhibition ‘YIELD’. The exhibition was shown at The Dowse Art Museum, Wellington, and the Textile Art Centre, New York. It also featured the work of the esteemed designers Zandra Rhodes and Yeohlee Teng. The pattern for the suit is available online, allowing for new platforms for collaboration within fashion. It was subsequently exhibited at FAB8, Wellington, 2012, as an example of open source design.

    Armour (2008)
    Whitty was sole creator of two menswear outfits consisting of a leather armour top, a pair of grey suede/leather ruched trousers (adaptive to the wearer), and a blanket shawl coat with armoured chain-mail jewellery (recycled materials). Her work opposed conventional flat-pattern techniques and minimised waste in its production. She used a method of ‘minimum waste’ design she called the ‘coil technique’ which was made from continuous leather strips that were fur-stitched together and contoured/draped onto the male form. It was exhibited in the Mittelmoda Archives Exhibition, Promosedia International Chair exhibition, Udine Trade Fair, Friuli- Venezia Giulia, Italy.

    This work won the National Craft Fair of Ireland Award, bestowed by The Royal Dublin Society (RDS). A hand-knitted men’s Aran cardigan with foil print and leather hand embroidery, it fuses traditional Irish craft with modern print techniques. It utilises recycled yarns and off-cuts of suede and leather to create a celebration of 'rough-craft', new territory in menswear design. It was one of the 110 winners from a pool of over 400 entries and subsequently formed part of The RDS National Crafts Competition Prize Winners Travelling Exhibition. 

  • Qualifications

    National Diploma (Distinction) (Limerick School of Art and Design)
    BDes(Hons) (The National College of Art and Design, Ireland)
    MA (The Royal College of Art)

  • Professional Affiliations

    Fashion and Textile Working Group (Cumulus International Association of Universities and Colleges of Art, Design and Media)
    The Local Wisdom International Network
    The Wellington Fashion Collective