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RCA Student Wins €50,000 Grant for Sustainable Design

Danielle Elsener (MA Fashion, 2020) has been awarded a €50,000 grant as winner of the evian Activate Movement grant, for sustainable design, for her RCA graduate project.

Danielle Elsner
Danielle Elsener portrait, 2020
Elsener’s winning project, titled ‘A020 – A Zero Waste Design System’, challenges waste standards within the fashion and textile industry. 

Standard garment production wastes an average of 15% material, and Elsener’s innovation aims to prevent this waste through bold graphic language, colour theory, and pattern cutting manipulation to create zero waste designs. 

Elsener has dedicated her life's work to proving zero-waste as a valid and robust design model. For over a decade, she has learned from industry, educational institutions, and self-run initiatives to understand how best to do this. What began as a love for puzzle solving through zero-waste pattern-making, became a way to fix the fashion industry’s biggest problem.

As a design system, A020, allows the user to understand the theory behind zero-waste design by providing them a set of instructions to either recreate a garment or create something completely new. The pieces are classic menswear staples with a twist that highlight the minimal yet beautiful differences that Zero-Waste pattern cutting creates.

Elsener said that the ‘sharing of information and techniques is so important to the further development of sustainability within the fashion industry: my function as a designer in today's world is to empower and educate. To create new avenues of thought that span disciplines, cultures, and traditions. To forge new opportunities that foster interaction and dialogue. Though my methodology might exist in the world of fashion, its core extends so much further. Questioning the reality of something. Looking for patterns in everything around you. Dissecting the parts that create the whole. Solving problems and offering real time solutions’.

 Elsener will use the grant to build a learning platform for designers to continue to improve their zero waste design systems – ‘these opportunities come once in a lifetime and I can’t wait to share what comes next.’


Throughout her time at RCA, Elsener has been awarded numerous scholarships and awards, including the Kaihara denim sponsorship and iDesign grant for her work around Covid-19 PPE designs. She is currently a semi-finalist for the Mayors Entrepreneurial Competition for A020 – A Zero Waste Design System

A020 - A Zero Waste Design System, can be viewed on RCA2020

Find out more about MA Fashion and how to apply.