These global interior design hubs house many of the well-known clients that demand her talents to produce weave, print and wallpaper.
Yet it is perhaps the textile and fashion industry’s fasting growing and most pressing problem that has sparked a fascinating area of research for Claire.
She combines her Hull School of Art and Design (HSAD) role with freelance practice and research on the subject of sustainable textiles. In short, what can be done to keep textiles out of landfill.
Claire’s passion for her subject is evident and highlights an interesting dilemma for the designer with a conscience.
“Creativity is in my blood,” says Claire, who has been at HSAD since 2005. “Growing up, somebody was always making. For me, it was always fashion and textiles. I knew from the age of 10 I wanted to be a fashion designer and I was making clothes, even selling my stuff, back then.
“I love what I do. Especially designing checks and stripes – they look very simple but, in fact, are very, very difficult to do well. Checks and stripes are some of the hardest things to design because of the simplicity.”
Claire did her BA in fashion and textiles at Birmingham City University and an MA in Constructed Textiles at the Royal College of Arts, which she completed in 1999. She completed an MSc at the University of Leeds in 2011.
“I was working from my first degree onwards,” she says. “I had a paid placement while on my second degree with an Indian manufacturing company and was also teaching at the same time.”
She has extensive experience working in design businesses and manufacturing in the UK, Europe and Asia and now completes commissions from leading design houses.
Claire is currently investigating the way customers dispose of their clothing and the processes that can be put in place to keep more of it out of the world’s burgeoning landfill sites.
“I’m looking at the link between the first supply chain and the second supply chain,” Claire says. “I started researching this subject because I wanted to change direction in my work and there were elements of not wanting to be part of the problem. So, I went off to be a research assistant as part of a University of Huddersfield programme that went to Africa. We looked at landfill sites there and we saw first-hand how much clothing is being sent to landfill that could to be used further as recycled textiles.”
The first supply chain refers to the first use fashion market. “Once we think a garment is valueless, we send it to charity for recycling,” says Claire. “A vast amount of UK textile is sent to sub-Saharan Africa as second-hand clothing, the second supply chain. Yet the whole industry relies on the goodwill of the UK customers. The difficult part is finding a way to influence that goodwill.
“All textiles can be reused and have value, from the top-grade reuse fabrics, which takes the least energy, to the lowest-grade fabrics that can be taken back to their fibre stage and reused.
“End-of-life management and sustainability should be the textile industry’s USP. I want to use my industry knowledge to set a precedent.”
Claire’s research is ongoing.