Ryan, a Royal College of Art graduate, is on a mission to tackle the cost and environmental impact of mass clothing production.
Children grow seven sizes in their first two years of life and on average, parents spend over £2,000 on clothing before their child reaches the age of three1. Cost is just one side effect of mass production. The process from farming through to shipping places pressures on the environment with waste, water consumption and carbon dioxide emissions2.
Ryan’s design is Petit Pli, an outerwear garment that fits children aged six to 36 months. The design inspiration developed from Ryan’s frustration at how quickly his two-year old niece outgrew the garments he had bought for her. He started to consider how clothing can be a dynamic object rather than a static one to suit the needs of rapidly growing children.
Petit Pli works by employing the Negative Poisson’s ratio, which Ryan first encountered during his previous studies in Aeronautical Engineering at Imperial College London. The ratio states that when stretched, materials known as auxetics, become thicker perpendicular to the applied force. Ryan captured these auxetic properties in Petit Pli by folding the desired material to create structural pleats. The pleats expand or collapse in multiple directions which allows the garment to move as the child does. The material has been heat treated to fix the pleats in place so that the garment can withstand washing and the pressures of an active wearer. Ryan has created 500 prototypes of Petit Pli. The most recent garments are waterproof, can be folded to fit inside a parent’s pocket and are fully recyclable.
As James Dyson Award 2017 UK national winner, Ryan has received £2,000. Ryan said
“it’s so exciting to have won the UK James Dyson Award. It’s just great to have that backing and belief in my idea. I am an engineering expert – but as I commercialise Petit Pli, I’d like to be able to bring someone on board who can help me navigate the fashion world.”
Ryan’s next mission is to grow Petit Pli into a business and he is already having conversations with distributors and manufacturers. Ryan hopes to capture the interest of potential investors and continue to develop innovative garments where tech merges with textiles.